The cure for the common cult of "ITIL by the book"

What a great line: "the cure for the common cult". Oooh, I wish I had thought of that, but I didn't. It comes from a recent article by Brian Johnson, one of the original authors of ITIL and an occasional contributor of comments on this blog.

One approach to ITIL is to implement it "by the book" in what could be considered a cultlike fashion that attempts to implement ITIL to the letter ... The books themselves are meant to guide; they are not steadfast laws. None of the authors, contributors or publishers ever expected organizations to adhere to every word of their publications ... When an ITIL implementation begins with an assessment of the organization's business needs and a plan is developed to help implement ITIL to address those needs, everyone benefits.

... and the business gets appropriately scaled implementation that has a business case and an expected ROI.

Amen brother.


Another approach to implementing ITIL...

Hello Skeptic,

I'm going to propose another plan to implementing ITIL. I touched upon it in a response to another of your posts "Don't fall for the demo..." The second approach to implementing ITIL successfully is to not implement it, yourself, at all but to simply turn it on.

If you break down ITIL into all it's disciplines dissect them, for example:

- Application Management
- Asset Management
- Change Management
- Configuration Management
- Financial Management
- Incident Management
- Problem Management
- Release Management
- Risk Management
- Etc.

you'll find a few things:

1) That ITIL is incomplete and imperfect, meaning it doesn't cover everything you need to correctly implement IT Operations, successfully (examples include lack of Requirements Management, Design Management, Facilities Management, Resource Management, etc.).

2) That ITIL is growing at a pace that is faster than enterprises can keep up with (since they keep adding new ITIL versions with new disciplines).

3) That the cost and complexity of implementing a solution for each and every discipline is insanely high. The summary here is that ITIL is very expensive, very complicated to implement and can take an enterprise decades to implement.

So I'll ask some simple questions:

If ITIL represents a framework of disciplines that are common across each and every vertical industry (which I totally agree with), implying that these disciplines are all horizontal, why does everyone implement ITIL differently?

In other words, on the premise that all of the disciplines are horizontal and all enterprises perform them in some way, shape, or form, then why do enterprises perform and implement them differently across companies?

Why does everyone re-invent the wheel when they implement each ITIL discipline?

Isn't a discipline like Incident Management the same everywhere? If it's not, is there a legitimate reason (such as some hidden competitive edge) as to why it needs to be different?

It appears that there is a legitimate need for such disciplines (since enterprises perform them, regardless of whether it's called ITIL or not) but the supply for a whole picture solution is weak. Everyone tries to implement their own "point disciplines" and this leads to a new (and highly incomplete) wheel in ever enterprise that attempts to do so. Each wheel is different but, yet, the need for the wheel remains. No one seems to be worried about the entire vehicle.

OK, I'll cut to the chase. The new trend in implementing ITIL (and horizontal IT, in general) is to simply buy it all as a black box service. I'll get to what this means, below. But first, enterprises have successfully outsourced many non-core expertise services for decades. Examples include but are not limited to:

- benefits provisioning
- accounting services
- legal services
- payroll services
- cleaning services
- Etc.

Why? Because other specialists can perform such services better and faster, at more effective prices.

Please note that there is a huge difference between outsourcing the entire service and simply buying a piece of software.

Anyhow, until recently, it was cost-prohibitive to outsource horizontal IT provisioning. Sure you can outsource pieces of it: your network, your system administration, help desks, development labor, etc., but you couldn't outsource "IT". Technically, you still can't. It's far too big for most large enterprises. However, you can now outsource very large portions of it. This leads me to the alternate approach for implementing ITIL...

Outsource the platform implementation to an expert provider that can provide you with the best solution for the lowest cost, in the quickest timeframe. Outsource it to a "connection provider", where you simply pay for access to the the platform through a connection, based on consumption. Outsource it to an expert provider who focuses on it full time and has the dedicated and necessary expertise and infrastructure to provide the best solutions. Outsource it to someone who has built the entire vehicle (or is the closest to it) and allows you to leverage their wheels!

You have a number of posts that worry about the implementation of a CMDB? I ask, "Why?" Isn't worrying about a CMDB a complete waste of time for an enterprise that is not in the business of selling CMDB? You shouldn't be worrying about it. In this day and age, you should simply have one. Period. You shouldn't be worried about where you got it, how it was built, how it will be improved, or how it will be maintained. You shouldn't be worried about how to provision for it, how to integrate it, and how design it. You should simply have it, along with each and every horizontal discipline. Do you worry about implementing and maintaining the wheels on your vehicle every day? Of course not. They're a commodity.

If you're worried about implementing ITIL, you're not worried about your vertical market problems. This is bad. It drains your vertical resources to implement solutions for horizontal problem spaces that have been solved many times over by many other enterprises. However, this doesn't mean that you don't need or want a solution for what ITIL represents. It just means that focusing on it is a distraction away from your core expertise.

If you want to implement ITIL successfully (and you're too big to rely on paper, spreadsheets, and Access databases, etc.) there's only one viable solution. Buy a ready to use "ITIL" utility platform, one that provides you with better IT solutions than you can provide your enterprise with, yourself, at the lowest possible costs. Sure, it won't be perfect (since nothing ever is). But, the vendor will be more qualified than you are and will build the solutions faster, better, and cheaper than you can. And, while it won't be perfect from day one, if you get a good one, you will see that even from day one it will be far better than anything you will "ever" achieve on your own, at a far lower cost.

The future of ITIL is On-Demand ITIL that comes prepackaged as part of On-Demand IT. I'm betting my own enterprise on it!

Again, thanks for the opportunity to post and share my views and experiences. I hope you and your community find the information useful.


Frank Guerino
CEO & Founder
On-Demand IT

Who forgot to switch the users on

You raise some interesting points Frank....however, I think there is a dfference in putting in place systems that support ITIL processes and getting an organisation to the point where they can say that have a three parts mature ITIL (or ISO20000) organisation.

I am sure that the on demand piece is a valuable component of the solution. I am equally sure that ITIL is now seen by consultants as the best thing since "y2k carrion". I am not sure where that leaves us in terms of an intelligent approach to ITIL....nowhere I suspect. Maybe time to hold a few of those chips back, before you stake your life on it...


Round here we try to keep the approach intelligent

Thanks Richard for a great comment. "Y2K carrion" - I may use that.

The IT Skeptic is of course dedicated to steering people in intelligent IT directions, and the consultants of which you speak are our #3 target (after vendors and analysts). I keep a close eye on the consultants, being one myself :-D



I guess we are all consultants some of the time, BUT there are consultants and consultants....Here is a link to some mischievous research that I posted on the RedMule blog.


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