The Skeptical Informer, April 2009, Volume 3, No. 4

The newsletter of the IT Skeptic. All the IT skeptical news that is fit to print... and then some!

The IT Skeptic wonders if it is time to hang up my skepticking gear. Next week marks the third anniversary of The IT Skeptic website. When I started out, I was pretty much a lone voice questioning all the sunny optimism over ITIL. Now it is a crowded field, ranging from Aiden Lawes doing a fabulous job lobbing heavy well-considered shells to the rattatat machine-gunning of the much younger Marc Buzina, with a number of others in between. ITIL is undoubtedly over the top of the hype curve and accelerating down into the trough of despair. I wrote some time ago that I hoped that by reducing the height of the hype curve I could thereby reduce the pain of the fall. I don't think I had much effect. Along the way I may or may not have influenced a few things. It has certainly cost me a lot of time and effort and lost revenue for very little reward indeed. It has also I suspect cost me one or two friendships and possibly even business opportunities. On the other hand it has given me a geographic reach and profile I never imagined. But I really don't like hurting people's feelings. Nor do I like being seen as consistently negative or destructive. In my recent compilation of the blog, The Worst of the IT Skeptic, I said:
    I strongly urge everyone to do amateur acting classes even if, like me, you never tread the boards. One of the most important things you learn is mask work. It is enlightening to see how a mask transforms your personality as you put it on. The IT Skeptic didn’t set out to be a journalist but that is what he has become. Journalists are a contemptible breed (except of course any reviewing this book). I don’t much like most that I have met. But the IT Skeptic performs a useful function in the IT industry, asking hard questions that needed to be asked, especially to put a brake on the wild exuberance that is sweeping the ITIL industry away. In order to fulfil their function, journalists must be read by many readers. To be successful - to survive - journalists must serve the market. They write what the market wants to read, and the market likes a little titillation with their content. I can’t say I entirely like the IT Skeptic, but I like what he does and I hope he continues to do it. In the end, I have come to terms with him because he is me.
Now I'm struggling with the recession like everyone else, perhaps more than most reading this. I have a responsibility to my family to focus on more lucrative pursuits. And yet the material keeps streaming in. Vendors, analysts and Castle ITIL alike all keep throwing stuff my way. It's hard to imagine the IT Skeptic kicking off his boots. But he sure has to spend more time on the day job. P.S. I changed the blog colour scheme (CSS) again. Response was not overwhelming. About a third liked it. Only a couple of readers pined for the old scheme. Well I like it and as long as I'm paying that's the end of it :) Actually I'm not wild about the graphic design of the blog but I'm not making enough money to justify getting a professional makeover. Volunteers welcome - I'll credit you on the footer of every page. P.P.S. Continuing on from last month, the pictures are some of my favourites I've obtained from CanStockPhoto. The guy peering through the keyhole is Big Uncle, from a series I did about benevolent public security, but he makes me think a little of the IT Skeptic.

Features

Since ITIL does not tabulate all the role definitions anywhere, not even the glossary (except possibly on the ridiculously expensive ITIL Live - who'd know?), once again the IT Skeptic provides a public service in the same way as our cross-reference list of ITIL V3 processes. Here is

the IT Skeptic's Unofficial Unauthorised List of ITIL V3 Roles

[Updated 2009/4/16: added SFIA cross reference and some questions]
[Updated 2009/10/7: added five more roles - thanks JRD! "By far the best list I've found!"]
[Updated 2009/10/23: added comments about the Glossary]
[Updated 2010/7/26: added more roles from SD]
[Updated 2011/08/11: removed SFIA, see comments]

***** FOR ITIL V3 2011 ("3.1") list of roles, see comment below from Matthew Burrows

14 questions for an ITIL environment health check

Recently the IT Skeptic floated the idea of an On-Demand CMDB. Let us consider some of the implications.

In amongst all the vendor pimping and teenage overexcitement there are folk talking common sense about Cloud Computing. So I am hijacking this blog post that was originally just about the McKinesy report on Cloud and I'm transforming it into a thread of Cloud Common Sense, as picked by the IT Skeptic and you, gentle readers. Feel free to add your own picks but be warned: vendor hype or wide-eyed gushing will be treated mercilessly.

The stress levels were rising in Two Hills World Headquarters Tower in inverse proportion to the billable hours. Something had to be done. Urgent action was called for. So I rearranged my office.

[Updated 6 May to use correct link] It has arrived. As previously disclosed, the OGC has appointed APMG to administer a scheme to assure ITIL compliance of software.

Sadly PRINCE2:2009 seems to be a scripted repeat of ITIL V3. Wholesale change is passed off as a minor revision. The public are assured that older certifications will still be of value and that the new certification is no big deal. Your Highness, don't alarm the peasants.

We went through exactly the same crap with ITIL V3, the - haha - "Refresh".

Lately I've been involved in a fair amount of debate and discussion over CMDB. The lucrative over-hyped CMDB-building industry has closed minds to the possibility that just perhaps this isn't the smartest thing to be concentrating efforts on. I thought I'd gather together here my recent statements as to why CMDB is seldom the best use of funds, i.e. why CMDB can't be done within reasonable business bounds.

Once Development was the epicenter of IT, then Operations was. Now it is Service. Soon it will be Governance.

Operations is a commoditised domain now: people increasingly buy on price.

We endlessly hear that ITIL is not prescriptive. Every organisation is different. We must adopt and adapt. Well... y-e-s.

There is a cultural imperative to fit "the way we do things around here" as much as possible, so as to reduce change, re-education and resistance.
There is a historical inertia due to entrenched incumbent systems.

But on the other hand the benefits of ITIL are standardisation and common language. Thess reduce the costs and time when new people come in: employees, trainers, consultants, auditors...

Puhleeese. Green IT is pure fad. Sitting in an air-con office made from cement and steel and plastics, with the SUV parked outside, banging on about saving a kilowatt is just PC hypocracy.

Still cleaning out my rearranged office and found this. One of the worst examples of management I recall, though of course there is some stiff competition

Cloud computing is a popular topic right now. Some see it as a saviour technology for cost cutting but there is too much thought given to how you will connect at a technical level with a Cloud service provider. Just as important is how you will connect at a process level and at a business level. IT development and solutions staff are prone to waving these considerations away as an issue for the operations people and the “suits”, but the process and business considerations are more important than the technical ones.

Messages

Way cool! The Wright Cycle for you

Wright Cycle picture In response to popular demand, the Real ITSM Wright Cycle is available now on shirts and mugs. The perfect ITSM conversation piece.

Wright Cycle Tee Shirt Readers of the official Introduction to Real ITSM will recall that it advises:
Prohibit continual improvement. Once a system is barely adequate, leave it alone. Its life expectancy is short so why invest in optimising something that will be torn down soon enough? Any Real change that does happen is to be based on the Wright Cycle of Guess-Do-Crash-Fix (named for the Wright Brothers, who crashed many an airplane before they got one off the ground.).

Now you can display the Wright Cycle diagram on your shirt or coffee mug so that you may conveniently explain it as required. In order to further stimulate conversation we have arranged the quadrants not as originally shown in the book, and not as the Deming Cycle is almost always erroneously arranged, but in the correct logical order as they would pass when rolling.

Liven up ITSM with the Wright Cycle today.

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All five IT Skeptic books available on Amazon

You can buy all of my books in print now from Amazon.com, as an alternative to Lulu. Digital versions are still only from Lulu.

Yes I know I said The IT Skeptic Looks at CMDB would never be sold through Amazon, but apparently I fliipped the wrong bit and it is there so I am leaving it there although I make very little.

For all books, I'm struggling to get the feed to work into Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.de, Amazon.co.jp etc Sorry, I'll keep on it for you. In the meantime Lulu provides best shipping options for many countries.

By all reports I'm getting, people enjoy these books and find them useful. I hope you will too.


A must-read for everyone who owns, approves, proposes or manages an ITIL project.


My favourite of these books: inspiration and ideas to make am difference in your own and other peoples' IT careers.


"Do your worst", so I did. My selection fo all the content from this blog worth taking on holiday with you for a relaxing, amusing and yet stimulating read.


There aren't many funny ITSM books. According to all the reader feedback this one is. A satire on ITIL, ITSM and IT operations in general.


A controversial book this one, arguing that CMDB is an unjustifiable diversion from improving configuration management process.

From the blog

Is anyone else troubled by the racial overtones of the current wave of anti-outsourcing and especially anti-offshoring sentiment? If you have read Introduction to Real ITSM you will know how scornful I am of outsourcing. What troubles me is that the recession-fuelled backlash going on right now in the USA seems to be focused on how you can't trust Indians and all foreign places are dangerous. This seems ignorant and racist. Anyone who reads the papers knows what an unsuitable country the USA is for doing business...

From the book Owning ITIL®...

14 questions to ask about an ITIL project proposal

1. What is the vision? What is the strategy to achieve that vision?
2. What is the driving need or requirement?

[last updated 29th April 2009]

People are starting to realise how different ITIL v3 ("The Refresh") is from ITIL v2, and how much more extensive the scope and ideas are. There is no doubt that the re-engineering has been extensive. The following diagram makes that clear. A bit like a DOS-based command-line-driven utility being rewritten as a Windows GUI with workflow. The original routines are still in there somewhere but the manuals sure look different! Saying it is an add-on is like saying a Chev Corvette is an add-on to an LS1 V8 motor, or Windows is an add-on to MS-DOS. Sure ITIL2 is still in there somewhere but not so as you'd notice.

14 questions for a post-ITIL-implementation review

1. How has this changed the way people think, speak and act? Describe instances/anecdotes.
2. What has been the feedback from customers? Suppliers?
3. How did we measure success? Did we measure against something other than ITIL? Did we succeed?
4. What has been re-scoped, deferred or dropped since the business case?
5. Are we measuring the ROI? When will we review again to check that we got the ROI expected in the business case?

14 questions to check on progress of an ITIL project

1. Have you encountered resistance? (Resistance is good). How have you / will you overcome that? (Ignored resistance is bad)
2. What champions have you ‘converted’ to the cause, who weren’t on board at the beginning?
3. What cultural change activities have you conducted: workshopping, communications (newsletters etc), consultation, walkthroughs, training, coaching, monitoring, feedback, celebration? NB. Emails don’t count as communication

It is a happy day indeed for the IT Skeptic when I find myself singing the same song as such a venerable member of the ITIL community as Aidan Lawes, and yet that is very much the case with a recent blog entry by Aidan. Does the ITIL V3 certification scheme provide real value to the buyer?

Readers may have missed the comment a while ago that the ITIL portal was originally going to be "available to the ITSM community at no cost".

The iPhone apps thing is undoubtedly a goldrush and possibly a mass hysteria. If one more person tells me how they are going to get rich on iPhone apps I'm gonna scream. Three in the last 24 hours! Next step is for my Mum to ask me to teach her how to program (and what an iPhone is). Remember folks, the ones who get rich in a goldrush are the ones selling shovels. And by the time you hear of a goldrush and get there all the easy claims are gone. Not that i can talk - still digging away in the Web gravel long after sensible people have gone home...

We had ITIL V3 in 2007 (and 2008 and 2009 if you are talking exam syllabus), and PRINCE2:2009 (why not PRINCE3? - it was a sweeping rewrite). Apparently we have also just had PMBOK 4th Edition.

In both cases of ITIL V3 and PRINCE2:2009, OGC/APMG have cavalierly assured users there was little difference and they should happily continue to pay for the old exams up until the time it is no longer convenient for the training companies for users to pay for the old exams. And of course in both cases this was crap, with the new syllabus being totally different.

The new PMP exams are due June 30th. How different will they be?

I found a beauty. Actually embarrassed I have not seen this earlier.

I was looking a V3 problem Management Graph and noticed that one of the inputs comes from proactive problem management which would indicate the proactive problem management is outside actual problem management. I tried to find more details and this is the result.

The SO book describes Proactive Problem Management (4.4.5, see also 4.4.7):

Proactive Problem Management which is initiated in Service Operation, but generally driven as part of Continual Service Improvement(see this publication for fuller details).

[Updated now a reader found the syllabus for your simple-minded Skeptic - thanks James]

Since ITIL V3 Foundation certification can legitimately be sat without taking a prior approved training course, you will want to get the ITIL V3 Foundation syllabus before sitting the exam.

I see the price of TSO's ITIL Live™ has fallen even further, in fact halved AGAIN. Since the £495 per annum fee now includes ITIL V3 Lifecycle Suite content - i.e. you get an online subscription to the books included in the price (normally £265 p.a. ) - some readers may now judge it worth considering, especially if the boss is paying. Quite a cut from the original £2,500!

Here's a blogger taking the vendors firmly by the ear and twisting. My Hero! I am not worthy! etc etc

Conventional wisdom would assume that in a challenging economy, strong relationships would be a key success factor to retaining business and mitigating loss of revenue. Unfortunately, this does not appear to be the case for many companies, including vendors in enterprise software.

[Updated 7th May: see below]

It's true folks.

BMC announce:

BMC Software [NYSE: BMC] has been awarded the first “ITIL® Process Compliant” certification and trademark, achieving this important milestone ahead of any of its competitors

The UK local governments are apparently fining staff for using jargon and cliches [thanks Ian].

Well actually James Finister has long been in the blogosphere but he has a new blog Core ITSM that I should have mentioned before now. Very useful thoughtful skeptical views on ITIL in particular and ITSM in general. I don't agree with everything he says, which is also a good sign.

I had some small part in the discussion that came up with the name of this blog. Whether James does or not I'm not sure, but I see it having an ideological connection with my own ideas of Core Practice: cut the crap, don't gild the lily, look for the key necessities. If I stay unemployed much longer there will be time to explore that connection!

In our mobile age it becomes very difficult for employers to build a base of expertise in the organisation. It leaks. You've no sooner paid for someone's ITIL Manager's (now Expert's) certificate and they are moving on. Pink Elephant has been talking about an interesting alternative approach: an expert team.

Slightly related to Crap Factoids, take a look at William Vambenepe's Crazy Stats. Love it.

I've got one for William to add: "only 34 percent say that they are more effective at introducing new technologies than their competitors"

Telesales advertisers and other hustling snake-oilers no longer use images of “thousands of dedicated” white-coated scientists and bubbling test tubes. Science is out of favour with the general public due to the rise of post-modernism, new age, alternative this and that, and other bilge thinking. The only positive to this gradual erosion of the Western world’s intelligence is the demise of science as an image of credibility with marketers.

The same has not happened with computers.

Putting aside the IT Skeptic's role in itSMFI and Aiden Lawes recent barracking after many years as an itSMFI stalwart, Kiwis have always contributed more than our 2% of the world economy or under-half-a-percent of the world population. Continuing this tradition, itSMFI has appointed Kirstie Magowan as Chief Editor.

It is really bugging me the folk who don't seem to realise there's a recession slowly gathering momentum. It's like people fishing on the beach after a tsunami warning has been issued. A couple of waves lap up and they go "oh good that's over". NO IT ISN"T.

Here's a blog I'll be following (if only he'd post a bit more often): ITSM for the Real World.

Oh this is great skepticism about IT in general: 10 Things I Just Don't Get About Tech by Thomas Wailgum.

As Castle ITIL gathers itself for another assault on ITIL V2, we should ask again: are they mutually exclusive? And do we want ITIL V2 killed off? And if we don't, why are they doing it?

PRINCE2 gets a new version this year. For those who went through ITIL V3 Refresh, it is deja vu all over again.

The loooong awaited COBIT User Guide for Service Managers is now available. As an ISACA member I just downloaded my free copy (imagine itSMF members downloading free copies of core or complementary ITIL books - ow! my brain hurts) . The rest of you rabble can buy it (ebook here). I reviewed this book so I have some insight into what its impact will be. I believe this book rounds out COBIT as a concise body of ITSM knowledge that presents a credible alternative to ITIL. Not as deep in the detail, certainly not as wordy, but broader, more complete, more structured, systematic and consistent, not (yet) as mercenary and captive of vendors, and cheaper (using downloads). Don't ask me to pick between COBIT and USMBOK (yet), there are pros and cons of both. But I'm using them in preference over ITIL any time a client hasn't drunk the KoolAid.

Recession brings out the worst in us all. The jingoism in the USA over Satyam's currrent spot of bother is hypocritical in the extreme. Satyam could have used some SOX just like the USA badly needed it so few years ago. And bringing home the jobs is just cynical xenophobic PR.

I wonder if APMG are in the same building as some of the British school examination designers?



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