If IT ain’t broke don’t fix it.

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Perhaps the saddest sight in the ITIL world is organisations that adopt ITIL processes when the old ones were working OK. Don’t tell me it doesn’t happen.

IT operations is a domain that tends to attract perfectionists. Damn good thing too when sites are aiming for three-, four- or five-nines [99.999% availability]. The unfortunate aspect of perfectionists is that they can’t leave well enough alone, especially when a fad like ITIL sweeps through, or they get indoctrinated into a cult like ITIL.
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Others make changes because change is power. As that genius business commentator of the late 20th century, Scott Adams, said in the Dilbert Principle: “change is good for the people who are causing the change. They understand the new information that is being added to the universe. They grow smarter in comparison to the rest of us”.

Then we have that phenomenon The New CIO. You know the one: brought in to make some changes. Or because they are new they feel the need to make some changes. Good managers find what works and leave it alone, but good managers are rare in IT. And of course they are rare, because there are no professional qualifications or accreditations for IT people: not real qualifications and accreditations like, say, for engineers or doctors. IT gives anyone a go. And some companies give anyone who can speak geek a go at CIO.

I have watched with fascination one guy who bluffed his way into a small company X as CIO, stayed long enough to look OK on the CV but not so long as to blow his cover, then used that experience to get a job at a much bigger organisation Y where he bluffed and bullied for a couple of years until he couldn’t get away with it any longer, then quickly left. For quite a while he was appearing in the press and at conferences as the CIO of Y and then the ex-CIO of Y until that got tired, then he scored a job as country manager for a vendor (vendors respect a master of B.S.). So many CEOs and Boards are IT-ignorant that it is easy for these guys to pull it off. The sooner we have a proper professional body the better…

OK a quick nip of Wild Turkey and a walk round the garden and I have calmed down again. There are a few things other than ITIL I’d also like to take pot-shots at one day. As I was saying, plenty of CIOs and Ops Managers change things because they need to be seen to, or they feel they want to, or it isn’t perfect, or they like change, or they really have no idea what they are doing.

I worked for a software vendor, a big one. I was present when our CIO was interviewed by a journalist for the IT press, who asked if we used ITIL ourselves in-house. Now you need to know this is a big shop: mainframes, huge storage farm, worldwide network, tens of thousands of users. And they sell a service desk. A PinkVerified one, so there. My breathing stopped as I waited to hear his answer because I knew we didn’t, and I had often whinged about the fact (to colleagues who like me didn’t matter): how could we sell an ITIL tool and services when we didn’t even use ITIL ourselves? (though we used the tool and very well). He replied no we didn’t, because our processes were very good and delivered effective service to the business (all true). When they needed fixing he would look at the business case for ITIL.

Those guys I worked for cop a lot of flak but they run a tight business: the political pressure on him to be a showcase ITIL shop must have been immense, but his job was to run IT on a budget and he wasn’t going to blow it on the fad du jour. I told that story with pride when challenged.

If IT ain’t broke don’t fix it.


Hi ITIL Skeptic

As an ITIL professional I'd like to join you in your journey :-). Any formalised way of doing things needs scrutiny and challenge. I believe that pragmatism should be used when implementing ITIL; processes should support the people *not* the other way round. I look forward to discussing this with you in the future, disagreeing you in some areas and learning from you in others.

Best wishes.

Lynn Jackson MISM
Nottingham UK.

Hi Lynn and welcome

Hi Lynn and welcome

I completely agree. As you - and many reading this - know: ITIL has a basic principle of adopt and adapt, and generally lots of built-in pragmatism and common sense. So while I may not resist lobbing a few bombs at ITIL itself, often I am having a go at the way ITIL is approached more than the methodology.

I doubt anyone has much to learn from me. I'm not an ITIL Master. I don't think I have fresh insights. I'm just stating the obvious. But let's state the obvious together: it's fun, and we just might save some waste. I doubt that a "bad" ITIL adoption can bring down a company like a bad SAP one can, so I don't think we can aspire to a nobler cause than stopping folk from being idiots.

Now please will everyone stop agreeing? Obviously I think I'm right but I also know I'm not all right. We can only learn, and refine the ideas here, through discussion and debate. So c'mon peoples: take exception!

One small correction

Pink Verify is a service offered by Pink Elephant in order to evaluate Service Management tools and their compatability with ITIL best (or good) practices. Pink Verify does not evaluate the service desk function.

If this software vendor as you say was such a big shop, global, how could they not be following ITIL? In my experience, I agree, if it ain't broke don't fix it. However, there were numerous clients I had that needed to jump on the bandwagon and say they were 'following ITIL' for various reasons. Did the company have any customers which required them to be using ITIL practices? What about Sarbanes Oxley requirements for having a documented change process with controls accurately mapped out?

I suspect that if the company was running a tight ship that many of their own processes were similar to what ITIL promotes. If so, horay for your CIO for not jumping on the ITIL bandwagon.

Promotion of good business sense is what this industry needs. Promotion of the latest fad is becoming passe'.

SOX had some ugly consequences for this company

"they sell a service desk. A PinkVerified one" it was their product that was PinkVerified not their internal function. I know about PinkVerify

this was pre-SOX. those who know where I worked know that SOX had some ugly consequences for this company.

As you say, many of the processes would have been close. But he wasn't going to spend the money painting them red and blue.

I agree to disagree

Hi Lyn/Skeptic,

"I'm just stating the obvious"... that is where you will find most people to agree with you. Stop doing the obvious and disagreement will follow. Also remember that the obvious conclusion is not always followed by the obvious action. That is not where most consultants make the money since that requires to empower the client in doing your work.

Now you made me to agree again, but I hold the right to disagree in the future.

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