The Skeptical Informer, September 2009, Volume 3, No. 7

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

In the ITIL world, some things improve but others don't. On the blog I recently said
If OGC would pull their heads out and look around they have an enormous potential they could harness. But they don't. They don't even tell us who is writing the ITIL Refresh Refresh, or how they are being selected. When they do offer writing jobs, they give the public three days to apply. Collaboration with existing bodies of knowledge is almost non-existent. Review cycles are rubber stamp exercises instead of genuine attempts to build content and embrace diversity. They surrender certification schemes (people and products) to the vendors. They surrender their web presence to the vendors, who have torn it into three or more pieces. More than anything else, this is why ITIL is probably doomed.
Look at the governance of ITIL professional certification. For those who don't know,
in 2006 The APM Group became the Official Accreditor for ITIL. APMG provides accreditation services related to training, registration and the examination scheme. As the Official Accreditor, APM Group are responsible for running the ITIL Qualifications Board. The Board includes representatives from all interested parties within the community from around the world. Members of the Board include (though are not limited to) representatives from OGC, APM Group, TSO, V3 Examination Panel, EIs and itSMF International as the recognized user group.
..."all interested parties within the community from around the world" eh?
The Qualifications Board act as a steering committee for the official scheme, ratifying any decisions made ... by APM Group as the Official Accreditor. The Board will also be available to consider any complaints escalated to this forum regarding any accredited member of the official scheme ...
Just in case there is anyone who doesn't know...
APM Group as the Official Accreditor is authorized to license EIs to administer ITIL qualification and accreditation activities. APM Group will also use their international offices to act as an EI to deliver the scheme to the market place in the form of training and consulting accreditation and the delivery of qualifications. All organizations approved by APM Group as EIs will be audited by independent auditors appointed by APM Group in accordance with the principles of international best practice standards. APM Group will also submit their EI to this audit process.
I guess that gives APMG a comprehensive understanding of the market if they are both an auditor and a provider. Who is actually on that Board? With difficulty you can find out who was some time ago. The only non-vendor representation on the Board is that staunch independent voice of the ITIL user community: the itSMF International. The ATOs (some of them) make more noise on behalf of the customer than itSMFI does! That's why they've got their own IQB sub-committee, to give the pesky nuisances somewhere to vent. What does the Board decide? If you need to know, there will be a press release - they publish no minutes. Check this out from a year ago:
The ethics board of The APM Group (APMG) met the board of itSMF International (itSMFI) recently to further knit relations between their organisations, which both share the aim of establishing the highest possible standards among service management professionals. Cementing their alliance Sharon Taylor, Chair, itSMFI and Richard Pharro, CEO, APMG, signed a contract, which seals the agreement whereby APMG will share revenue generated from the ITIL Foundation exams to help itSMFI expand and support chapters. In return, tSMFI is committed to promoting ITIL globally and supporting the qualification scheme through its involvement n the ITIL Qualifications board. Colin Rudd, itSMFI’s Qualification Board representative and ITIL author, said “I am pleased that a close working relationship has been established for the benefit of the service management community and for ITIL at large.” “We were impressed with APMG’s corporate governance structure and have extended an offer to Richard Pharro to speak about the subject at itSMF conferences." CEO Richard Pharro, APMG said, “Our relationship with itSMFI and with the international community of service managers continues to grow. Our ethics board is certainly a contributing factor in facilitating this relationship because it gives the community confidence that we endeavor to act responsibly and with transparency.”
Now the IT Skeptic suggests nothing untoward here but it is all very cosy don't you think? APMG give itSMF a cut of revenues in return for itSMF's support. So who is independently repesenting the end consumer on the IQB now? Sharon Taylor was acting in her role as Chair of itSMFI not in her other role as APMG's Chief Examiner. Colin Rudd was acting as itSMFI’s IQB representative, not as Managing Director of his company which was awarded the contract from ISEB to develop the ITIL v2 to V3 Bridging course. One hardly thinks they needed to "further knit relations between their organisations". Note that APMG’s Ethics and Standards Board, led by Chairman Alan Deboo, Canon of Salisbury Cathedral, is responsible for ensuring APMG adheres to good governance standards and works ethically, representing the interests of all its stakeholders. This is an admirable piece of self-governance (no, really!).
If, as a stakeholder, you would like to contact The Chair or Deputy Chair of the Board to raise a particular issue or concern, please send an email to their respective email addresses, or and the Chair or Deputy Chair of the Board will respond to your enquiry as soon as possible. This email will be treated as confidential and will not be seen by internal APM Group staff.
So, exam question: What is the purpose of the ITIL Qualification Board? Are they there to represent the interests of a) the owners of ITIL? b) the vendors of certification? c) the purchasers of certification? d) the community who use certification as a means of assessing people they pay? (In true ITIL fashion there is one correct answer and one less-correct answer). I put it to you that there is no independent governance of ITIL beyond the indirect involvement of APMG's Ethics Committee. Who speaks for the millions of ITIL practitioners? Who speaks for the over-half-a-million people certified in ITIL? In the unlikely event that a Board member spoke up for we poor punters
Each member of the ITIL Qualifications Board has a single vote and the views of the majority will prevail
P.S. please consider nominating the IT Skeptic for the ComputerWeekly Blog Awards as an "IT Consultant and Analyst" site. Hurry, closes soon!
P.P.S. Photos this week are of two of my most favourite things: my son and trains, because... well because.


The whole of New Zealand was out by 190 metres - we're in the middle of fixing it. No big deal: redraw, rebrand, reprint, redistribute every single topographical map of the country; recalibrate/reprogram some of the GPS devices; run batch programs to change the coordinate position of everything in every database in the country; work really hard to make sure all the emergency services stay on the same page map. Simple really. Harder is telling people it is happening: nobody I speak to even knows. It would have been a little simpler if they had got it right the first time, but that is unfair criticism since technology has moved on over the however-many decades or centuries since they surveyed it for the last set of maps. The errors took a long time to show up (when GPS became widely used).

Imagine the reaction if it were to come out in a year or so that the latest set of maps is still wrong.

There seems to be a major disconnect between ITIL V3 Incident and Problem Management.

I've launched a new group on LinkedIn. This group is for all decision makers (IT-literate or not) who are presented with an ITIL® proposal or asked to oversee an ITIL project, or who find something called “ITIL” or “Service Management” in their budget. It tells you what the ITIL industry won’t.

For everyone else involved in ITIL projects, join in to help you stay grounded and safe.

The IT Skeptic is proud to announce an exciting new facility on the blog: the ITIL Wizard!! After long negotiation, we have finally persuaded one of the industry's leading ITIL experts to write a column for us answering readers' hardest questions about ITIL.

What is it with IT geeks' inability to accept the need for change control? Here is a beautiful example of how they just don't get it.

Sometimes IT really matters. It feels different.


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Carpe diem

I've issued plenty of warnings about the recession, about how it may well be gathering momentum rather than all over. And I am still very cautious. But perhaps I've been too cautious. In fact maybe this recession has got me into a funk. I've found myself saying no to much interesting stuff. The main reason for adopting this lifestyle was life's fickle nature: I need to get back to a bit more carpe diem - sieze the day.

As Brian Tracy says

The most important quality for success in entrepreneurship and in life is the quality of optimism... In order to be successful in business, and in any activity where your money is involved, you must temper your optimism with negativism. You must be enthusiastic about the possible upside of the investment but you must be skeptical, critical, suspicious and demanding about all the different ways that your money can be lost... listen to negative thinkers, but don’t necessarily accept their advice. When the inevitable fires and storms happen in your business life, no matter what anyone says, you must remain positive and optimistic, and take full control of your situation.

So I'm sorry for all those fun conferences I turned down in interesting places - I hope you'll ask me again next year. Many readers will have seen that I am going to Las Vegas with Pink Elephant next year. I'm doing some work with the New Zealand Police right now - maybe they'll lend me a kevlar vest? I'm writing over on Pink Elephant's blog leading up to the conference.

BTW, I'm receiving small amounts of money from a few ITSM-related companies now. In the interests of full disclosure I list them down the bottom of this blog.

Classic Skeptic

The IT Skeptic’s little brother is so excited by the iPhone he wrote an article about it.

From the blog

If you know something about IT operations (not just development) and your IQ is in triple figures then passing the ITIL Foundation exam should be no big deal and no big investment. (If in doubt, read the testimonials in the comments below). Follow these six nine eight seven steps:
[updated 14/4/2015 ]

According to a recent Computerworld article, the mysterious Julie Linden who stalked the pages of this blog a couple of years ago was none other than the executive director of the itSMFUSA, Jim Prunty. That pisses me off.

Just when I asked whether there was any change to ITIL V3 books, out comes Project requirements for an update to the ITIL® core publications. OGC say "scope of change is gradual and not too extensive." We've heard that before.

Hornbill has released an ITIL State of the Nation survey [registration required]. I think it is a good report, relative to the usual Crap Factoids we see. It doesn't try to get all worked up about any one number. Sadly I think it still suffers from all the flaws we see in these industry "research" reports. It does however point to one interesting result: ITIL V3 doesn't seem to be taking the world by storm.

ITIL V3, PRINCE2:2009 (The-Framework-Previously-Known-As-Prince2), ITIL V3 New Edition... and now M-o-R:2010 and MSP:2010. Yes, OGC are calling for authors for Management of Risk 2010 edition and Managing Successful Programmes 2010 edition. Go on! How hard can it be? But you better hurry...

If you are thinking the ITIL V3 2nd Edition or Refreshrefresh - or whatever it is called - is just about adding a few missing semicolons and spelling Ivor Macfarlane's name right, think again. Even if they get talked out of this plan to rewrite (read: dumb down) the whole of Service Strategy ("oooh ITIL is HARD - why can't it be easy like TV?"), take a look at some of the errors to be fixed in the books. Remember, paid authors for each book from major corporations, hundreds of reviewers, professional commercial publisher with professional editors... and we get:

Once again the comment discussion on this blog has dug down to a very fundamental question: Is ITIL there to describe what the experts know? Or is it there to guide those setting out on the ITSM journey?

Dear Wizard

Where can I buy ITIL for my company?

Northern CIO

Along the way, I've somehow never got around to discussing a very important paper: Aligning COBIT® 4.1, ITIL® V3 and ISO/IEC 27002 for Business Benefit. This is one of the official OGC Alignment White Paper Series that do the alignment between ITIL V3 and the other frameworks, that ITIL V3 should have done in the first place.

There's a fresh new look over at ITSM Portal. I only really used the old Portal for news - Jan picks good stuff. I fed the Portal news RSS into my ITIL Pipe. Beyond news, it probably had much of the same great content as the new ITSM Portal but I never got led to it as the new format does. There's a goldmine of stuff here.

Dear Mr Wizard

Our auditors have expressed concern about the lack of security controls in our computing environment. Is ITIL a security standard we should apply?

Lisa G.

At a CA conference last century, I listened to a far-out guy with a mass of dreds talk about virtual reality. (Then I got to don a heavy headset and do battle with colleagues and pterodactyls). That guy was Jaron Lanier. Fast forward to my first copy of "Communications of the ACM" as a new member. It is a livelier read than most equivalent publications, a pleasant surprise for a fusty old org like the ACM. In fact I think it nearly justifies the fee without counting all the other excellent perks of membership. And there is an article by Jaron, Confusions of the Hive Mind. And it says something excellent about AI:

"New concepts are not to be added" says OGC's "Mandate for Change", the Project Requirements for the ITIL V3 Refresh refresh

This has been bugging me for a long time: why on earth did ITIL V3 rename Forward Schedule of Change to Change Schedule? Beats me, and it is counter-productive.

CanStockPhoto kovalvsHere's a simple analogy for incident, problem and change that I use quite a bit.

ISACA have announced the members of their COBIT 5 taskforce, to develop the next generation COBIT.

I've blogged before about how ISACA and itSMF are chalk and cheese and how this shouldn't be so - we could be brothers. I'm reminded of this again with ISACA's Invitation to Participate. itSMF members read it and weep.

Someone asked on LinkedIn about what guidance ITIL gives us for restructuring an IT department. I came up with two rules of thumb:

From time to time, a consultant is in the position of explaining and justifying fundamentals. Recently I was describing how incidents are not the same thing as calls, that every call is not a new incident if the same user has already called about the same incident previously, that it is more effective to record the call history on the same incident. I went to three sources of "best practice" for support - there isn't any.

[updated 11th Sept 09] ITIL V3 was supposed to be the last word in ITIL with continual improvement of the books instead of rewrites. I worked out that it is cheaper to buy new books every couple of years than to subscribe online. OK so it's time. Do I need to buy new books or not? And how would I even know?

The itSMFUK, EXIN and TÜV SÜD Akademie have reached an agreement on cooperating in their ISO20000 qualifications.

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