This story was updated from a previous version to include additional reporting. Read the earlier version here. When Michael Armstrong, CIO of the City of Corpus Christi, Texas, wanted to improve the productivity of his IT \n\nteam, ITIL was high on the agenda.\n MORE ON ITIL The Practical Value of ITIL Watch Out for Training Costs in ITIL Version 3 CIO's ITIL Page \n"We needed to get to a point where we could do more planned work, which meant fighting fewer fires," he says. "And to me, \n\nthat meant getting a better handle on the changes that were taking place."\n\nArmstrong had read that 80 percent of system failures are due to change, and 80 percent of the "time-to-fix" lay in \n\nestablishing just what changes had taken place. Corpus Christi, he suspected, was no different. Enter ITIL, which Armstrong \n\nknew addressed not only change management but a host of other factors that affected service management and the productivity \n\nof the city's IT staff.\n\nOriginally developed in the U.K. in the mid-1980s, the Information Technology Infrastructure Library, or ITIL, is a set of \n\nbest practice concepts and techniques for addressing the effective management of IT infrastructure, service delivery and \n\nsupport. Endorsed by the U.K. government for public sector IT projects, ITIL soon gained traction within the corporate \n\nsector. Published by the Office of \n\nGovernment Commerce, ITIL initial best practice guidelines have been widely adopted around the world, although exact \n\nnumbers are unclear. (All one has to do is purchase a set of ITIL books, and adopt whatever ITIL practices one wishes.)\n\nBut along the way, ITIL has undeniably picked up a reputation for being more appropriate for big business rather than small- \n\nand medium-sized IT shops. And this, in turn, has hindered its adoption by smaller IT organizations such as Corpus Christi's. \n\nArmstrong saw past that big-business stereotype and envisaged ITIL easing the lot of the city's five telephone technicians, \n\nnine field technicians, 30 analysts and 1,600 end-users.\n\n"ITIL hasn't really talked to smaller businesses," says Barclay Rae, former professional services director of Europe's Help \n\nDesk Institute (now known as the Service Desk Institute). "The \n\nlanguage to date has been very much framed in the context of large organizations with mainframes and internal customers."\n\nBut although ITIL's big business credentials can't be denied, there's growing evidence that it can indeed benefit the smaller \n\nIT shop, too. In fact, the smaller IT shop can turn its size into an ITIL asset, says Rae.\n"Smaller companies can implement ITIL\u2014and implement it quickly," he says. "There are fewer people to disagree about it, \n\nand it's easier to get the key people around the same table. I've implemented ITIL in an IT department of just six people: \n\nThey initially complained that they didn't have the time\u2014but by picking just the key ITIL processes, it didn't take up \n\nmuch time at all."\n\nThe Need for Accountability\n\nITIL's processes don't manage themselves, however. "As with all good process development, it's vital to have a process \n\n'owner' and someone who is responsible for ensuring that each process is working well," warns Rae.\n\nTake consulting engineers Cundall, Johnston & Partners of Newcastle, U.K. \n\nCundall has an IT department of 10 people supporting 500 employees across 13 main offices spread over six countries, \n\nincluding Dubai, China, Spain and Romania. It adopted a service management solution from ICCM, precisely because of the \n\nITIL-compliant nature of the U.K. vendor's offering, explains Cundall's IT director Mike Hanna.\n\nHanna says he was specifically recruited to move the firm away from the "break-fix" approach to technology in which it was \n\nmired. ITIL's core processes such as incident management, change management and problem management offered a way to get a \n\nhandle on what was really going on. At Cundall, Hanna charged staff members with ownership of those processes. The incident \n\nmanagement process at Cundall is the responsibility of service support manager George Smith. Change management, which began \n\nin May, is the responsibility of a new hire, Rita Testa, recruited for her ITIL experience.\n\nBut implementing ITIL need not mean expanding the workforce, notes Rae. Whether a CIO chooses to allocate people to ITIL \n\nprocesses or not is a matter of individual choice.\n\n"One of the most common misunderstandings about ITIL in smaller businesses is that ITIL somehow 'demands' a large \n\norganization: People think that as there are a number of 'management' processes involved, there must be a similar number of \n\nmanagement roles\u2014but this just isn't the case," he says. "Many good implementations have simply given out key \n\nresponsibilities to individuals as part of their existing roles."\n\nOne Size Doesn't Fit All\n\nWhere to start with ITIL and where to stop are also matters of choice. For the City of Corpus Christi, for instance, the \n\nchange management process has been the starting point.In CIO Armstrong's eyes, that is where the greater reward lay. "The \n\nincident management piece of the puzzle is important," he acknowledges, "but that comes next."\n\n"The incremental approach [to ITIL] is very common, and is one that we see generally giving the best results with smaller \n\norganizations," says Graham Ridgway, CEO of Touchpaper, the U.K. \n\nsupplier of the service management solution adopted by the city. "More usually, organizations start with incident management \n\nrather than change management, but it's very much a question of individual preferences."\n\nSo is where to stop. At Cundall, fully certified ITIL compliance "is not a short-term goal," stresses IT director Hanna. "The \n\naim is to move closer to full compliance, and then take a view as to whether we want to go the extra mile. From where we are \n\ntoday, 70 percent to 80 percent compliance should make life so much easier." Accreditation, in other words, is a \n\nnice-to-have, not a must-have.\n\nCorpus Christi's Armstrong is more outspoken. "We're not doing ITIL just for the sake of saying we've done it. And I'm not \n\ninterested in certification," he says. "What I am interested in is providing a better service to our internal customers\u00beand \n\nwe simply don't have the resources to do it any other way."\n\nSuch flexibility is important, adds John Noctor, senior consultant at ICCM, \n\nprovider of the service management solution chosen by Cundall. "Around ITIL, you hear the words adapt and adopt a lot," he \n\nsays. "It's a suggested framework, not a mandatory one: You pick the bits that suit you best."\n\nEven so, the level of adaptation is diminishing as ITIL itself becomes more accessible to smaller organizations. Published in \n\n2006, the Office of Government Commerce's guide to \n\nsmall-scale ITIL implementations is already in its third printing. As with the Office's other ITIL publications, it is \n\npublished by government publisher The Stationery Office and costs around $70. (Exact pricing depends on the current exchange \n\nrate.)\n\nBut while many ITIL practitioners broadly welcome such moves, they stress that smaller organizations can still benefit from \n\nworking with the full set of ITIL guidelines. \n\n"There's still a fair degree of ignorance among smaller businesses about ITIL's potential benefits," argues Paul Cash, \n\nmanaging director of Partners in IT, a service management consultancy and \n\nITIL training provider. If more small IT organizations were aware of ITIL's benefits, he adds, they would be more inclined to \n\nadopt the full guidelines and not a scaled-down version.\nITIL CAN WORK FOR YOU, TOO \n\nPoints to consider\nThe IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) is applicable to small- and medium-sized organizations. Consider these points when deciding whether or not it's right for you:\n\n1 ] Don't be daunted. Remember that ITIL can work for smaller companies. Even if the processes were written with big companies in mind, the lessons apply to smaller organizations.\n\n2 ] Appoint a process owner. You need a leader in charge.\n\n3 ] Pick your pieces and prioritize. It's O.K. to select aspects of ITIL and not the whole thing. Pick up the points you think will work best for your organization. \t\n\n-M.W.\nStamina Required to Meet ITIL's Demands\n\nOne smaller business that has done just that is U.K.-based Ioko, a \n\n300-employee outsourced managed services specialist and developer of Internet-based applications for global giants such as \n\nShell, the BBC and AT&T. ITIL appeared on Ioko's radar screen in 2001, explains VP of Managed Services Sian Hodgson: "We had \n\nambitious growth targets and realized that we needed processes and systems that scaled as we grew."\n\nWith ITIL's small-scale version not yet available, Ioko embarked on a full-scale implementation\u2014but more gradually, \n\nimplementing ITIL practices at the pace that it could absorb them.\n\n"You need stamina," stresses Hodgson. "You need to recognize that it's a journey involving hundreds of small changes, rather \n\nthan a onetime silver bullet. People see ITIL as some sort of Nirvana, but really it's just a very sensible framework. Take \n\nITIL's approach to change management: It provides a very credible level of detail around the processes of designing, \n\napproving and ultimately implementing change."\n\nAnd for Ioko, ITIL has delivered on its promise, adds Hodgson. With revenue of \u00a39.1 million in 2001 when first embarking on \n\nITIL, Ioko has now grown to sales of \u00a334 million, she says. "And we haven't had to make changes to our processes, because \n\nthey were already in line with what we need," Hodgson says. "What's more, we could double in size\u2014and still not make \n\nany changes."\n\nMalcolm Wheatley is a freelance writer who is living in Devon, England.