KCS and ITIL: It Can Be Both!

In the spirit of total honesty, I have to tell you that until recently, every time ITIL came up in a conversation, invisible shields went over my ears and I started humming.  This technique worked to drown out the sound of the person telling me important information about ITIL that I should have known long ago.

To my great shock, when Rick Joslin of HDI provided an update on KCS and ITIL at a DeepDive Discussion recently, I was able to hear Rick talk about ITIL without the shields and humming.  It confirms Buddha’s quote, “when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”  With my ears finally ready to listen, Rick changed my perceptions on many topics related to KCS and ITIL.  Imagine my amazement to hear the following myths busted based on the information Rick shared:

Myth 1:  “We don’t need to implement KCS because we already have ITIL in place.”

The question shouldn’t be, “Do you have ITIL in place,” but instead, “Are you happy with the knowledge management component of ITIL?”  If you are satisfied with your implementation, then perhaps you aren’t in need of the KCS methodology.  However, if you aren’t yet satisfied with the cultural adoption of knowledge management, then you could definitely benefit from looking through the KCS Practices Guide to learn how the KCS methodology can help your organization capture and reuse knowledge more effectively.

Myth 2:  “We have already started our ITIL implementation, so we can’t implement KCS until that is complete.”

ITIL is a framework that does not include implementation guidance. Those with a service management implementation underway based on ITIL often struggle with the knowledge management piece. Because KCS is synergistic with ITIL, the KCS Practices Guide is the logical place to go for guidance.  It includes the best practices and techniques that have been proven successful by organizations of various sizes and industries.  Rick tells me that in his experience, organizations that discover KCS late wish that they had seen it sooner.  Often times, they have to go back and refine the knowledge management processes and end up adopting the best practices already documented in the KCS Practices Guide.   If you are implementing processes based on ITIL, then you should consider implementing KCS concurrently.  This just might save you valuable time down the road.

Myth 3:  “ITIL and KCS aren’t easy to implement together because the terminology just doesn’t align.”

Terminology between KCS and ITIL don’t align perfectly.  However, that is not a barrier to adoption.  There are many examples where processes are similar and familiar but named differently.  With a small effort spent identifying where these alignments occur, it is very easy to see ITIL and KCS working together beautifully.    For example, ITIL uses the concept of processes and process owners.  Specifically, there is a Knowledge Management process owner.  This person could be the one within the organization who identifies the ways in which ITIL and KCS align and then serves as the person spearheading the KCS implementation.

Myth 4:  “KCS identifies processes that aren’t called out within the ITIL framework.  This makes it very difficult to implement both at the same time.”

Yes, it is true that the KCS methodology outlines processes that aren’t included within the ITIL Knowledge Management framework.  However, this shouldn’t be a deterrent from implementing both KCS and ITIL at the same time.  The robust, industry-standard KCS methodology offers organizations the best-in-class Knowledge Management methodology with these additional processes.  These serve to add depth to the knowledge management process within ITIL.

Learning more about how ITIL and KCS can work together came as such a relief to me.  I loved hearing Rick talk about how these two industry best practices can coexist AND complement each other.  I wish you best of luck as you embark on KCS and ITIL.

(Special thanks to Rick Joslin for his thoughtful presentation and feedback.  Any mistakes are completely my own doing.)

KCS is a registered service mark of the Consortium for Service Innovation.

ITIL is a registered community trade mark of the UK Office of Government Commerce, and is registered in the US Patent and Trademark Office.

HDI is a registered trademark of UBM, LLC.

4 thoughts on “KCS and ITIL: It Can Be Both!

  1. Nice blog post, Melissa.

    In my experience, most IT support teams don’t use KCS but could certainly benefit from doing so. I’ve worked in several large organisations who’ve invested considerable effort and expense in knowledge management for customer support but overlooked the benefit in extending the practice across IT. I do believe KCS and ITIL compliment one another and often work with the IT teams to share KCS best practice. Sharing simple tips like employing hyperlinks to acronyms and unfamiliar terminology can help the inexperienced learn their role more quickly and de-mystify subjects being relayed to the layman.

    We all ‘win by sharing’ so thank you for sharing your thoughts on this subject.

  2. Well said Melissa.

    I’m a big fan of Rick Joslin as well.

    I’ve been implementing ITIL and KCS in large organisations since 2005, I must say aligning both framework terminology and practices are imperative before rollout. Once I finish up my current project (Very time poor), I’m keen to write about some of my own personal techniques that I’ve used to tackle the perceived conflicts between ITIL and KCS.

    Truth be told, KCS is ‘HOW’ you rollout your ITIL processes!

    If you want to see some real results of the two frameworks together please see my presentation of an 8 year case study on meta-cafe:


  3. Good article and strong points. Highlighting the myths around their coexistence and demonstrating their synergies offers a clear path for organisations to enhance their service management processes.

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