itSMF USA sure is ITIL-centric

Perhaps you too were under the impression that itSMF is about ITSM, i.e. more than just ITIL. Certainly itSMFuk is heavily involved in ISO20000 as well as ITIL. Well not in the good ol' USA.

Check out what itSMFusa has to say about "service management":

The Information Technology Service Management Forum (itSMF®) is a global organization consisting of corporate and government members responsible for advancing IT best practices through the utilization of the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL®).

ITIL® is the only comprehensive, non-proprietary source of service management best practices that is publicly available. It contains an integrated set of well-documented processes.

...To attempt to duplicate the ITIL framework would take an outlay of several million dollars and would require monthly maintenance from then on. The question really isn't "Why ITIL?" but rather, "Why use anything else?" The (CCTA/OGC) has already done the hard work. Now it's up to you to take advantage of the investment.

This is on a page headed "service management" mind you. Reminds me of the Blues Brothers: "we got both kinds of music: country AND western".

So much for the itSMF's own publications, or ISO20000, CMMI-SVC, MOF (now a public domain BOK), or even - hisssss - COBIT. And of course itSMF would mention USMBOK only over a few dead bodies.


ITIL-centric and Vendor-driven?

I have to support Ian's comments that at the very least itSMF USA is being upfront about their direction. Although I would have to say that if this is the direction of the organization it is going to be news to a number of its members including those that are focused on service within the organization. As someone that has been part of the planning committee for the itSMF USA national conference for most of the last 5 years I would have to say this comes as a surprise to me. It is also very much in contradiction to our approach to planning that event were we specifically sought out sessions of other practices. We were not always successful in balancing the offerings, but as Ian says some of that has to do with the sheer popularity and momentum that ITIL has in the ITSM market place.

More concerning to me is the issue that again Ian brings up, about transparency and conflict of interest in the organization. I am less concerned about them being focused on the flavor of ITSM that seems to be the most common than I am about the complete shift from the organization being practitioner focused to be vendor focused. As Ian says they are very upfront about their support of ITIL and though I might not agree this is "he only comprehensive, non-proprietary source of service management best practices" I do applaud them for picking their camp and stating it. However, as a member that is not employed by a ITSM market vendor organization I am more deeply concerned about the growing conflict of interest that will result from there being no practitioner representation on the BOD or in other leadership areas of the organization.

Understand what you are signing up to support...


Obviously ITIL is the dominant factor here and sometimes it seems the itSMF prefers it that way - which is entirely their prerogative. I know I caused some consternation a while back by blogging at this site that perhaps the itSMF (USA) should rename itself as the ITIL User Group - a sort of back to its roots strategy. But, anyone can make the effort to form a non-profit to pursue a set of objectives and garnish support through membership as the itSMF USA has, and call itself (almost) anything... anyone.

Anyone can claim to be the 'only one', or that their offering is unique. Its just generally regarded as clumsy marketing, being a tough claim to prove and maintain. A quick fact-check of the excerpt suggests it needs tightening.... ITIL is proprietary, its not the only source of service management best practices (note the dropped IT - may I refer to McDonalds or Ruth's Steak House, or perhaps Disney operations?). What are they using as a definition of 'best practice', I hope its not ITIL V3's. And... the recent OGC mandate for change might imply ITIL is neither 'comprehensive' or that all the hard work has been done...

As in any profession, prospective members are subject to the 'buyer beware' rule and need to perform due diligence activities before investing time and money into ANY organization. They must be sure the goals they commit to are well understood and that any code of conduct mandated, is one that helps them manage the properly the commitment made to the organization and others they represent, or work for.

I do think its 'professional' courtesy for any organization soliciting membership interest (dues and know-how) to speak plainly about their objectives, allegiances and governance, and especially how they avoid or manage the 1000lb gorilla in the room - 'undue influence', and its twin sister 'conflict of interest'. Its up to the individual professional as I said earlier to ask questions and check these before committing.

Speaking as author of the USMBOK, luckily I am not seeking nor do I expect any favors from the itSMF USA. The USMBOK defines and discusses service management from a universally applicable perspective, and frankly I prefer its NOT compared with ITIL given its different goals, roots, and perspective. That is a limitation. Their respective value can be judged by the area of overlap, how they help the IT audience apply service management concepts and methods to the challenges of an IT organization wishing to operate more as a service provider. IMHO its far 'safer' and plausible to bring proven concepts and methods used within the service industry at large to IT, than to suggest or attempt the reverse....

It moved....


Please note that the itSMF USA has recently amended its mission to the following:

"itSMF USA is the United States chapter of the ITSMF international organization which has over 40 chapters. Based on the ITIL framework which was developed in the 1980s, IT Service Management has expanded to support and promote other Service Management frameworks such as ISO20000, COBIT, BS17799, PRINCE2, Six Sigma and many others. itSMF USA is a member driven organization organized in Local Interest Groups (LIGs) and one Student-Special Interest Group (S-SIG) located in over forty major metropolitan areas of the country and many others are being started (see the Local Interest Groups section for more information). "

The Vision is stated as "itSMF USA is the definitive & authoritative source for the advancement of IT Service Management Best Practices."

The Mission is stated as "itSMF USA is an independent, membership-oriented association dedicated to the advancement of IT Service Management best practices through knowledge sharing, educational and networking opportunities."

Please note that the optimistic amongst us might now read the "to support and promote other Service Management frameworks such as" as movement in the right direction, even if PMI, Lean, and a few other items more akin to being actual service management framework are not in the short list....

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