This content is part of the Essential Guide: ITIL and ITSM best practices for process improvement

Top 10: What IT service delivery challenges plague CIOs?

ITIL expert Gary Case has consulted with a wide range of companies over a long career in ITSM. Read his list of the 10 IT service delivery challenges that continue to bedevil CIOs.

Even though various best practices for IT service delivery have been around for many years and new ones have been added over the years, it's amazing that organizations continue to fall short of what their IT service management programs aim to achieve.

The following are the IT service delivery challenges I've seen again and again at many organizations over the years, and they all are challenges that have a direct impact on an organization's ability to address the business need for better, faster and cheaper IT services. (The list is not in any order and may not be seen in each organization.)

10 common and persistent IT service delivery challenges

1. Lack of buy-in and adoption of best practices. It is important that management and staff understand why a change is required and that the current state is no longer acceptable.

2. Lack of communication. This is related to the challenge above. The implementation and continuous improvement of IT service delivery requires timely and effective communication that flows down, across and up the IT organizational ladder.

3. Lack of business knowledge. You can't align IT services to business strategies, goals and objectives if you don't understand the business and what it's trying to accomplish.

4. Lack of alignment between IT process maturity and business needs. Many organizations believe that they must have all IT processes at the highest maturity level. However, the maturity level of IT processes needs be aligned with the value of the process to the business. Getting to a level three maturity (out of a scale of one to five) is often all that is needed. Going higher, when there is no value to the business, arguably leads to over-investing in and over-engineering of IT processes. Falling short of the maturity levels required by the business creates a risk.

ITSM is loaded with metrics; the challenge for organizations is using metrics to improve strategic, tactical and operational IT and business decisions.

5. Lack of continual improvement for processes and services. IT service delivery is not a "one and done" project. Processes and service should always be reviewed for improvement opportunities.

6. Lack of identifying and implementing quick wins. This is related to the prior challenge. Continual improvement depends upon IT being able to spot incremental changes that will improve the process.

7. Lack of meaningful metrics. IT service management (ITSM) is loaded with metrics; the challenge for organizations is using metrics to improve strategic, tactical and operational IT and business decisions.

8. Lack of consistently managing organizational change. Change management -- the people component -- is arguably the most important and most challenging aspect of IT service delivery.

9. Lack of ability to move the focus to higher quality while delivering value faster. IT often is not responsive in meeting the needs of end users, who typically want value delivered faster with higher quality. In response to this, IT organizations are adopting Agile and DevOps practices. When successfully executed, these approaches deliver value, faster and with higher quality.

10. Lack of focus on problem management. problem management removes recurring incidents that lead to employees spending their time on waste activities (as defined by Lean IT) instead of on higher value activities. Problem management, in this author's opinion, is the most value-added process within ITIL and it is also supported by Lean. It helps improve availability, stability and reliability, as well as increase customer satisfaction and reduce the cost of delivering services.

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