Magic happens. BMC promise some magic ITIL.

People want to believe that "magic happens" [why is that bumper sticker so often on cars that look like not much magic happened to them?]. Vendors know this and exploit it by selling magic.

BMC's Ken Turbitt recently put out a paper "can you really get ITIL out of the box?", also available in podcast for those who have nothing better to do.

Basically it is that old vendor trick of blatant denial in the face of the facts: saying my product isn't one of those nasty things you fear then calmly listing all the attributes that say it is ... as evidence that it isn't (but buried in the paper away from the exec summary where no-one who matters will read it). If I may offer my synopsis of the 10 pages:

Apparently "some industry experts are skeptical" [I did not find this paper because it contained the word 'skeptic' and I would have addressed it anyway even if it didn't - it is far too good to pass up] that you can have a fantasy easy way out of the ITIL problem: a magic out-of-the-box solution. These sceptical spoilsports suggest that some products may not be as simple as advertised; that they may not play nicely with what you have; that training may not magically produce effective ITIL people; and that you might have to think about how processes will work in your organisation. Imagine that. Trouble makers.

Then in a quick three-thimble trick, Ken pops in a paragraph that makes the disclaimer [and in the exec summ too: this guy is a risk-taker], but as an off-hand aside:
"Of course, technology alone cannot bring you the entire distance. There are still tasks left up to you. For example, you need to bring about the necessary organizational changes to transition your staff to a more business-oriented approach to IT service. You also have to determine the implementation sequence best suited to your particular environment by deciding which ITIL processes to begin with, based on your most pressing needs. And you will have to personalize the solution to your particular environment."

Oh, is that all? That sounds remarkably like the skeptics' list. This is immediately followed by:
"So if you want to implement ITIL, but are put off by the skepticism, this paper should help relieve your concerns. It describes the extensive capabilities you can gain from today’s advanced IT service management solutions and how they can propel you forward in your journey to ITIL implementation. The paper also provides a step-by-step approach to planning, selecting, and implementing an ITIL out-of-the box solution. Finally, it presents a real-world example of how one organization is taking advantage of out-ofthe-box technology in implementing ITIL."

Get their eyes back on the girl in the sequins.

The body of the paper makes the claim that definition of roles, process flow, process integration, and a CMDB are "advances" in the available technology "available today". Elsewhere on this blog we have debated whether CMDB is even possible, but the rest of it sounds pretty bog-standard service desk technology, as implemented by hundreds of projects that failed because they tried to do a technology-led out-of-the-box solution for ITIL.

BMC's paper maintains the approach of dismissing skeptical concerns as old-woman worrying: "For example, a comprehensive out-of-the-box solution defines the roles of the groups involved in ITIL processes. All that remains for you to do is to supply the actual people’s names within the groups." Wow, it is that easy! Every modern manager knows that once you get the the org-chart right the rest takes care of itself.

Down about page 8, where no decision maker will ever venture, reality begins to loom its ugly head.
"Although IT service management solutions are available that accelerate ITIL implementation with substantial out-of-the-box
capability, implementing ITIL is still by no means a trivial task.
"That’s why you should approach it in a disciplined manner.
This section provides a three-phase, step-by-step approach
to implementation. Each phase consists of five steps for
a total of 15 steps."

What follows is a good description of the huge task involved in any proper ITIL project, except in a technology-driven order rather than a people-driven order, and with the whole process analysis and design phase buried away as "gap analysis... software needs analysis... software localization... tailor the solution...personalization... rules unique to your specific organisation... fine tuning" (apparently, raising a process from one CMM maturity level to another requires only "fine tuning" - how easy is that?).

Having described the typical large ITIL project, the paper wraps up by again claiming the opposite: "viable IT service management solutions are available which ... make it possible to implement ITIL processes out of the box... these solutions significantly reduce the effort required to implement ITIL." Compared to what? No tool at all?

The final duck-and-weave is: "BMC offers solutions that help IT organizations facilitate ITIL implementation out of the box" which may or may not be the same as saying BMC products provide ITIL out of the box.

Hands up all those who feel that BMC Remedy (or any tool) provides an out-of-the-box ITIL implementation!


Vendor white papers

Surely no-one can be be surprised that tool vendor white papers ultimately have a sole purpose - to promote their specific tool as 'the answer'. As an ex-employee of a tool vendor, I am well aware of how this works.

Tool vendors often come under heavy fire... but they do contribute a lot to the industry, and if you can take the sales pitch within these white papers with a rather large 'pinch of salt', there is often quite valuable information in many of the vendors white papers.

What does annoy me though is when 'ITIL celebrities' align themselves with tool vendors to produce white papers etc. for large amounts of cash.

I do agree with your 'out-of-the-box' comments, there are tool vendors out there blatantly and wrongly positioning themselves as a 'shortcut' to ITIL. Which is a sure path to failure.

it isn't one of those contributions

Agree with all your points (being an ex-vendor too). Ken's paper has some good content in it but it isn't one of those contributions. It wouldn't be useful contenet to someone new to ITIL, in fact it would be very dangerous, because the good content has been seriously distorted to almost completely erase the work involved in scoping, developing and implementing process change.

Informal vote please readers: IS THIS SPAM?

What do you think folks? Useful contribution to the discussion or shameless comment spam? Am I just being grumpy?

Content Free...

I don't think you're being grumpy. Comment spam. There's no meat on those bones...

food fight

It's pretty close isn't it?

How about a 'Food Fight' section where vendors can savage each other and a users court of order where customers validate (or disprove) claims....wouldn't work but would be fun to watch...

we all have our favorite tools but it doesn't make us all fools. There just needs to be a separate space for that...

John M. Worthington
MyServiceMonitor, LLC

What's behind the hand waving...


I really appreciate your digging through the paper for the crunchy bits. Thanks for that. Your excerpt:

"Of course, technology alone cannot bring you the entire distance. There are still tasks left up to you. [snip] And you will have to personalize the solution to your particular environment."

Is particularly juicy. While many writers have offered similar caveats, how many have actually wrestled this one down to the mat?? As someone who has, I know that this is neither a quick or easy process.

From my perspective, I'd rather see the companies that I work with begin to address these cultural and organizational issues *first* and then use that to determine what supporting elements (technologies, processes, etc.) should be turned on. In this case, context is everything.

Unfortunately, at least for the time being, I end up arriving a little too late in my company's sales cycle to impact this. So, I end up sounding like a heretic. Such is the rough and tumble of the consulting business in a product-driven company. It's a risk I'm willing to take.

I think that anyone who promises an "out of the box" implementation of ITIL that is going to be driven by product is only setting themselves (and their customer) up for unfulfilled expectations. And that's deadly.

At least, that's my view from out here in the cheap seats... I could be wrong.


Pandora's Box

Truth be told, I've offered a 'NOC-in-a-box' in the past. Good marketing, but not reality. As an instructor and consultant in the ITSM space, I feel pretty safe in claiming that you're not likely to get 'ITIL-in-a-box' either.

BMC is a large, well respected player in the ITIL space; but let's face it --- they are a TOOL PROVIDER, suggesting that you can lead your implementation with a tool (their tool of course).

If it's THAT easy, then why not offer an (affordable) month-to-month subscription that I can (quickly) implement to validate these claims? (see Give your ITIL implementation a kick in the SaaS) While I pity the fool without a tool, a pandora's box is worse.

Tool selection has not radically changed (perhaps it should). It's still up to customers to separate claims from fact, visions from reality and price from cost of ownership. People, Process, Products....

The marketing blitzkrieg has begun, perhaps subtly (perhaps in this case not).

To be fair, the same goes for consulting services. Ultimately it will be up to you and your staff to implement 'best practice', and that's as much a people challenge as anything.

This from Wikipedia: "In modern times, Pandora's Box has become a metaphor for the unanticipated consequences of technical and scientific development."

Listen to the message, and know the messenger.

John M. Worthington
MyServiceMonitor, LLC

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