The Skeptical Informer, June 2007, Volume 1, No. 5
The newsletter of the IT Skeptic. All the IT skeptical news that is fit to print... and then some!
For reasons that are not clear, my newsletter database says I didn't send the June edition. I hope this is wrong, but what the heck: a bonus this month, two newsletters! June and September! (Thanks to the way the template works, you'll get the same pictures in both, sorry)
What an extraordinary month it was in June on the IT Skeptic blog. I had expected ITIL Version 3 books to dominate proceedings, but they took a back seat to debate over the itSMF: it's transparency, it's accountability to members, and the broader debate over its viability and reason for existence.
We also had an enormous debate over the philosophy behind the Service Strategy book, culminating in accusations of plagiarism in comments on the blog! Not to mention robust discussion of APMG's new certification scheme for V3, and the perennial CMDB. Next to all that, the IT Skeptic's new BOKKED, the Body of Knowledge Known Error Database, has had to take a back seat. But I hope this facility will grow if it is seen as useful by the IT community.
Getting back to the itSMF, the IT Skeptic was delighted to see Keith Aldis - CEO of itSMF UK and of itSMF International - wade into debate on my blog. His openness and preparedness to meet criticism head on is a refreshing change from past practice. Long may it last, though a cynic doubts that it will last long, once other powers notice. He has been quiet of late...
We have had two emails from Leah Palmer, itSMF USA President, to US members regarding the accusations of foul play in the itSMF USA Board election. These emails either show a determination to investigate all avenues or a determination to shoot the messnger - I am not yet sure which.
This is not the end of the itSMF's woes with Board trouble brewing in another country as well!
You can see from this newsletter that the IT Skeptic has taken a long hard look at governance and transparency of itSMF. A recent poll shows just under 90% of you are itSMF members so this examination will continue (the rest of you please bear with us for now).
I end with two quotes from me from the blog:
"I encourage all readers who are itSMF members ...to ask ...questions of your local chapter. Ask them formally in writing and ask your chapter executive to pass them officially to itSMF International for response. If that doesn't work email the Chairman direct: email@example.com. I'm just a troublemaking nutter living on 'the last two rocks before you step off the planet'. I can safely be ignored. A groundswell of queries from multiple chapters cannot."
"My personal interest on the internet is social computing or Web 2.0. This blog has made me intrigued by the democratic power of Web 2.0 and I have already served notice that I intend to explore that power. You can see the first rumblings on this blog already..."
This month I want to diverge from my usual model of picking the most interesting comments from across the blog. As discussed above, the focus this month is on itSMF. I have limited this month's pick of comments to this topic (despite some tempting material on Service Strategy, ITIL 3, certification, and other themes). This is still only a sampling of excellent and fascinating thoughts from many sources. I recommend readers dig in to this material and ponder your association.
ITIL 3: The 7 step process model | ITIL Skeptic's Little Brother (not verified)
Continuous Service Improvement : The 7 step improvement process
Now call my BSc in Mathematics a waste of tax payers money but even my 5 year old and 7 year old might be able to count the fact that the model as described in the current literature has EIGHT boxes?
Shoot the 'blagger' not the blogger | Ian Clayton (not verified)
I also mirrored your concern about the messenger. Assuming the allegations have an element of truth...the Board must be quick to answer a few key questions many have posed to me:
1) Is is true?
2) If true, what was the scope of the interference?
3) Who did it, for who and why (this is where I hope the Board will ask for Dr. Linden's help rather than see her as the 'enemy' in all this?
4) Did it undermine the mandate of the current Board and what should be done to fix that?
And like others - I'll be | Visitor (not verified)
what is the relationship (on paper) between itSMFI and TSO? Are they just a reseller? How does it square with the acquisition by itSMFI of the Dutch ITSM Library? itSMFI is beginning to look like Amazon.com without a strategy published to its members... On that point - what do the members want? have they been asked?
Does anyone care or involve the members here??? | Visitor (not verified)
HELLO???????? Member here! Does anyone at International, or the local Chapter come to that...ever ask what they wish for them to do?????? ...Is this all part of an overall business plan for 2007/2008 - if so can I get a look?
Good stuff! itSMF is being | Keith Aldis (not verified)
Good stuff! itSMF is being talked about...Regarding the role of itSMF, Skeptic is partially correct and it's true, the articles of association of itSMF do not specifically mention supporting the members. The title, IT Service Management Forum, says it all! itSMF is here to create and maintain a forum for interested parties to share best practice in ITSM and to procure the means for doing so. Its membership comprises in the main, the people who use this facility and so itSMF, in whatever guise, would do well to listen to its members and other customer's interests, needs and wants.
itSMF does have a contract with TSO/OGC for the translation of the new ITIL books as well as the re-selling of these books.
It is also both capable of writing new material and of procuring other organisations/author's materials too, should it be asked. It has however, to do this in the interests of the wider community and in an open, honest, transparent and accountable manner. It remains a "not for profit" (perhaps a more accurate description would be "not for dividend") organisation but this does not mean that it is not commercial in its business delivery.
Like any business it needs to deliver quality products and services to it customers and similarly like any trade body, it needs to listen to its members...
Thank-you Keith for taking part | skeptic
...and good on you. Ladies and gentlemen, the new CEO for itSMF UK... I would suggest that reading the mission and objectives of the itSMF shows "sharing" or "exchange" are secondary. The primary purpose of the itSMF is the promotion and advancement of ITSM. These are fine objectives. But in the regions the itSMF fulfills the "association" function by
default, in absense of anyone else doing it. The fact that the itSMF has failed for years to see the need and officially step up to the mark is sad indeed. It is indicative of the fact that far too many people in power in the itSMF community don't give a toss. Now a sub-group have been allowed to pursue this objective independently, the IoSM, with the blessing of itSMF, when blind Freddy could see itSMF should have taken the role.
Not tough - exciteable...and perhaps with some reason possibly? | Keith Aldis (not verified)
...If there's a need to get openness, clarity, transparency and accountability into the itSMF, again then that's what will happen. My Chairman and I are determined on this...We are all seeking to bring ITSM up to the proper level of professionalism and recognition it deserves...
Good point - and well made! | KeithAldis
...it is right and proper for any itSMF Chapter and the International Organisation also, to listen to the members even if, as in the case of the contract with TSO it's not specified that we should...Sure there are issues around IP and thankfully members be they individuals, vendors or more likely, individuals working for or supplying to vendors, contine to support the movement. Ultimately the cost of the development or knowledge gathering for ITSM Intellectual Property is paid for down the distant line by the users of Service Management. Rest assured though, that any money made from any activity of itSMF's wherever it occurs must be ploughed back into developing new products and services to promote good practice in ITSM and to support the sharing of ideas...
transparency | skeptic
Money made by itSMF is ploughed back into ITSM, except for the money that goes to pay for itSMF International and all those who make a career of being the ITIL elite. In return they serve, and make possible the ITSM movement, so it is a fair trade.
Except for one word: transparency. Who decides how itSMF International money is spent? Who decides how often and where the Board should meet in person? Who decides how many itSMF should attend conferences and which conferences? How does the membership know who went where and how the money was spent? How do we know what we got in return? More to the point, how do we get a say?
Skep. An interesting | KeithAldis
An interesting viewpoint except for one thing. I've already talked about principles of openess, honesty, transparency and accountablity. Rest assured I think this is exactly what as a basic minimum, is required to happen if (let's say) the UK chapter and others are to continue to be involved in supporting International. International is after all "owned" by its Chapters...
5% of my dues go to itSMFI | skeptic
Now Keith, don't get disingenuous on us. If 5% of my chapter's income goes to itSMFI, then 5% of my dues go to itSMFI. "It's not that money it is this money over here" is a basic sleight-of-hand that gets past no accountant.
Do 2000 meet 6-weekly to build itSMF's best practice model? | Visitor (not verified)
...Its time for every member to check the vision, mission and strategic plan of their local chapter and ask themselves a simple question - is it something I believe in and can support? Perhaps the alleged election scandal here in the USA is a good thing - it might focus the members on the Association, its mission, why someone would dare to interfere with its mechanics.
What does an effective | Visitor (not verified)
...Growth is a function of the association's ability to perceive changing member needs and to extend offerings which are better solutions than those offered by competing organizations. The operative phrase here is competing organizations. That noise you hear may be another association that satisfies the professional knowledge that the service management community eeds to acquire, sucking the itSMF membership away.
TEN WAYS FOR A BOARD TO SUCCESSFULLY RUIN AN ASSOCIATION | Visitor (not verified)
[worth a read]
vendors are people | skeptic
It is important to moderate vendor influence. However, as I have said before, vendors are people. There are crooked and greedy and otherwise undesirable non-vendors too. Any systemic discrimination against vendors is unethical and unnecessary.
Good governance needs to police people, no matter where they work. Not only that but excluding vendors eliminates a large pool of enthusuiastic skills and energy. It also discourages sponsorship...
Ok, vendors are people, but with their own interests | avallesalas
..."By the members, for the members"...if this gets evolved into "by the vendors for their potential customers" it is not what I meant as itSMF.
selfish ego-feeders and scrabbling vendors | skeptic
...No itSMF is not regulated. The cobbler's children have no shoes. itSMF is a quaintly amateur club running on gentlemen's agreements that suddenly finds itself riding the tiger of a billion-dollar industry. There is little process and even less governance...
Vendors and assocaitions | J M Linden, Ph.D. (not verified)
[this post iis notbale in that it comes dfrom Dr. Linden who is leading the allegations of impropriety in the USA Board elections]
...if you “staff” an association with its volunteer members, they will without a doubt run the association into the ground.
You employ professional staff to run an association. Show me one person on the ITSMFUSA governing board with any entrepreneurial experience. Show me one person that has profit & loss responsibility in their professional job sitting on their board. I’m sure you’ll hear declarations that one or two have $10M or $15M budgets, but, are they responsible for producing that income or are they allocated that expense? ...Vendors are a necessary part of every association, generally they are the deep pocket that started many an association and the one the aaociation taps for new initiatives. They have as much interest and make valuable contributes just like the industry members. Controlling the environment in which they participle makes them productive and generally controls their influence. This is no secret, and they know it was well.
Giving them a stake early on to take their money and letting them hold you hostage is their good marketing and the association’s mistake...Governance seduces you to think inside the box. In a rules are for fools corporate board room where board members what the next microwave, VCR, walkman or iPod to create return for their shareholder, they’re not running marketing or accounting or R&D. They’re coming up with ideas! They’re proposing the future...There are two kinds of leaders where change is concerned: Those that think about the future and determine how best to position their organizations to capitalize on emerging trends, and those that choose to respond to changes that threaten their organizations.
That's all very well Dr. | Visitor (not verified)
The solution therefore is to raise the skills of the staff to match or exceed the skills of the volunteers. That way the skills of the volunteers will also be raised in turn...
Skills | Visitor (not verified)
What good does it do to raise the skills of the staff if you don't utilize them in the first place.
The viable models: ACM and IEEE | Charles Betz
[Charles and I don't always agree, but he makes some really useful and sensible posts, like this one...]
As a model, I'd suggest starting with the real professional organizations: the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)...they remain the gold standard. We need something along these lines, backed by peer reviewed journal(s) and academics declaring their primary allegiance...The Society for Information Management (SIM), the Association of Information Technology Professionals (AITP), and the Data Management Association (DAMA) are all in the mix.
A great ITSM association | Visitor (not verified)
...Here's the formula:
1. Have its member’s professional development at heart of its agenda.
2. Listen to the members
3. Have a strategic board of directors
4. Make sure your mission and services are aligned
5. The members are the reason....
Actions speak louder than words.
Correct | SoothSayer (not verified)
Let's face it, itSMF has been a front for self interest for years. But try to raise this in some places and the likes of Jan van Bon shout you down, as they seem to see nothing wrong, and even today push itSMF at the expense of all else...They are NOT part of the open movement. They are NOT an open forum. They are NOT driven to serve their members as their prime objective. Yet they generate a fortune and spend it on what? On their own jolly hierarchy, their own secretariat, their own get-togethers ...APMG really are an awful development, but at least they accept openly they are driven by profit.
Be assured | jvbon
Be assured, "the likes of Jan van Bon" see plenty of stuff that goes wrong. At least, I do. But that has never withheld me from working in and for this community. And it's not a self-interest issue. Believe me, my wife and I could both have driven a Rolls Royce if I would just have sold my expertise in the format of consultancy hours, like so many of my esteemed colleagues do. I just like this field and I see it as a great privilige to be able to contribute to it.
Instead of moaning and complaining I have a different approach: I simply try to do the right thing...And I'm not the one "to see nothing wrong, and even today push itSMF at the expense of all else".... Just have a look at the news items on itSMF at the ITSM PORTAL International, and you know why some itSMF officials are quite 'skeptic' about me. And that was BEFORE there was an ITSkeptic... I've never been afraid to say what I mean and I will keep on doing so...We're going to see a couple of extremely interesting months ahead of us, and the ITSM market will be completely reshuffled within a year. I hope that this community can refind itself, in the spirit of the itSMF I once knew when we set up the Dutch chapter, a long time ago. The 'vendor problem' was tackled very effectively there, and - as I remember - it really takes no more than a few strong minds to do so...
Practitioner Representation | Visitor (not verified)
Then there is the Institute of Service Management (IOSM) however despite being a member I’m not wholly sure what it does other than add a line to my CV. As I'm already paying subs to the BCS, itSMF and ISOM I'm not sure I'd want to be paying yet another chunk of money out for another body to represent me. Perhaps the IOSM could take on this challenge for its 380+ members.
Now! Now! | KeithAldis
itSMFI is a company which has to publish its accounts at the UK's Companies House like any other UK based company. These accounts are a matter of public record and they are be freely available to anyone wishing to pay Companies House the fee for getting hold of them...We shall likely put these financial reports onto the website in future, together with the Chairman's report ...But just to let you know in 2006 itSMFI's turnover was in fact £77,098 (split roughly equally between Global membership and Individual Chapter subscriptions/levies) with administrative expenses of £20,161 and an additional income of £86 for Bank interest. It actually made a small surplus before tax of £57,023. No dividends have been paid and surpluses were planned into itSMFI's 2007 business delivery. The 2007 recently independently audited accounts (which are going through the process of approval before submission to Companies House as they must - and so, are not a yet a matter of public record)looks like showing a small operating loss...
I reckon my numbers are pretty close for the current year | skeptic
...as the 5% tythe really cuts in, V3 sales take off, new revenue streams come on line, and the global members pay up. And absolute figures aside, I still think we should see the breakdowns of how it came in and how it went out.
Add in five sponsors at over a hundred thousand dollars each | Visitor (not verified)
..Turnover will far exceed a million. You have forgotten the V3 rollout. Add in five sponsors at over a hundred thousand dollars each. I imagine they as much as anyone will be looking for better financial reporting this year!!!
Much better | Visitor (not verified)
Hey come on - give the guy a break. We are already getting more information from the new CEO of ITSMF on its activities than we've ever had before. Continual sniping and demanding will not make things happen any quicker. Do not let your behaviour get in the way of something positive - that is just being churlish. Well done Skeptic and well done Keith.
Sure - Clarity and careful are my middle names! | KeithAldis
My role is as Company Secretary and Chief Executive Officer for itSMF International. I'm titled as Chief Executive Officer - Operations. The itSMFI has an agreement with the UK Chapter which is for the "provision of services" to itSMFI and this has recently been extended to April 2008. It specifically includes the role of Chief Executive Officer ...itSMFI also employ a consultant under contract, who is helping the organisation to look at strategic development and he often goes under the title of Chief Executive Officer - Strategy. I have been tasked as Company Secretary by the Chairman, to update and modernise the governance structure. This will be discussed at the Board in July and if approved put to the chapters either at an EGM or at the AGM. I am also CEO of the UK Chapter...
Thanks Keith So itSMFI has 2 | Visitor (not verified)
So itSMFI has 2 CEOs -- both are under contract. One is for Strategy and one is for Operations...the Governance of itSMF
must follow the principle that itSMFI MUST be independent and separate from any Chapter and its operations to ensure that it can deal with all Global issues and Chapters in a level and objective fashion...
Transparency | Visitor (not verified)
The itSMFI has always worked in a stealth mode. Information has alway been slow to come from them, and when it does come out, it has been drug out. Keith seems to have opened that door and perhaps can make some changes in the perception that the international is worthy of support. That being said, what's going on and what can be expected it the months before the next AGM? Aren't elections due this year? Have nominations surfaced, or will they do it the way the US does it, the old fashion Chicago style.
The examination system is the result of hard-fought politicking | skeptic
Now be nice to Sharon: I think she has done an extraordinary job. The examination system is the result of hard-fought politicking by "committees" of avaricious competitors trying to maximise revenue and optimise their own position. their "governor" is a for-profit enterprise with entirely the same interests. Waddya expect the result to be? ...
[updated: it seems salient to revisit this post. To the vendor who proudly declared on this blog that your product is "ITIL aligned" you might like to measure that "alignment" against this list. ("Aligned" is the new slippery-speak now that "compliant" is on the nose)]
The IT Skeptic’s ITIL
Compliance Alignment Criteria
If you are a visual person like me you may find a diagram helpful in understanding just what ITIL Version 3 means, what has changed. The diagram has been moved to here (it's still free!).
Look, let's get this clear once and for all: the itSMF does not exists to represent the interests of its members. Many people seem to be under that illusion. I have said this before: the itSMF is not an ITSM practitioners' society, despite the "forum" in its name. Its purpose is not to give the ITSM community a voice, or to represent or certify ITSM professionals (though I think it should be). Read the itSMFI website.
In the old days the itSMFI website actually had a page describing itSMF and ITSM. it said:
This article has been podcast
The IT Skeptic estimates itSMF International, the "not-for-profit" governing body separate from the 40+ local chapters but owned by the members, turns over somewhere approaching a million dollars annually. They do this without any public reporting of their finances, as far as I can tell.
I guess ISACA are the governance gurus and itSMF can be forgiven a little shaky governance right? Why should every chapter bother with published accounts? In a tough year, of course an international team needs to meet face to face every quarter – there is only so much you can do with teleconferencing. Is there a best practice for a Board to extend its tenure, or even try to avoid elections entirely? And what’s a wobbly election process between friends?
The backstabbing and undercutting going on over the ITIL V3 book sales is good news for consumers, but less so for local itSMF chapters, or for those who'd like to see the ITIL world as a respectable place.
I can confirm that TSO sold direct to one or two of the Big Four vendors, causing orders with itSMF to be cancelled. The discount was reportedly 40%.
Now TSO doing the dirty on itSMF is good for consumers. With a bit of luck TSO might get into a price war with their own channels. It is not much sillier than what is going on now.
The IT Skeptic is pleased to announce the launch of BOKKED™: the Body of Knowledge Known Error Database.
With typical megalomania this is designed for any body of knowledge whether it be ITIL or COBIT or whatever, but the intent is obviously to first capture any errors we may find in ITIL Version 3 books. My books arrived this morning so I'm making a start. Please add Known Errors as you find them too.
We have spoken at length on this blog about the unseemly commercialisation of ITIL. Many firms feed at the trough right now, but the IT Skeptic predicts the trough is about to get higher and harder to reach.
Now here's a thing. A reader has uncovered a most interesting deletion from the ITIL V2 Service Support book.
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