ITIL V3 has a bet each way: proven guidance and bleeding edge thought-leadership, but how to tell?
Every so often discussion on this blog touches on something fundamental. Lately we've been examining how ITIL seems to have a bet each way: it wants to be proven and bleeding edge at the same time. This is dangerous for the very people ITIL is supposed to serve.
Here is a sampling of the discussion:
...ITIL has in similar fashion to Windows Vista acquired bloat to make it cumbersome and prone to difficulty... not only are there no examples of the larger SKMS, you would be hard pressed to find functional examples of even smaller subsets or components. Personally, I think the cart is before the horse...
...It's clear that the Big Four (IBM, CA, HP, BMC) are all moving aggressively in this direction with their product suites and marketing. Components such as change, incident, availability, project, vendor, contract, and skills management of course have been available for years. The next stage is to integrate them...The integrated IT management systems are being pursued by the Fortune 50, and when the challenges of this integration are solved for the world's biggest companies, the resulting solutions will be scaled down and sold to smaller companies...
...ITIL is so far ahead of the market with the SKMS concept that all that is visible is the disappearing rump...It is interesting to note that the Official introduction mentions SKMS only once in the beginning and once in a diagram...Perhaps the SKMS was too much for Sharon too?
...It's not a new reality that ITIL is ahead of the "market" in process maturity and concepts, this was true for v2 and v3 exposes this even more...If organizations understand the concept and work toward the concept, the "knowledge" now becomes more usable and greater benefit is derived. Remember, ITIL is descriptive not prescriptive.
There is no debate on the fact that (many practices 'described' in)ITIL is ahead of the market. And the background/context of that fact is the main point of debate against ITIL in many fronts. Personally I dont have any issue with ITIL being progressive or 'ahead of market'. That way it can be a good reference point for organizations wanting to improve ITSM practices. However,that intent takes ITIL away from the basic definition - of being a documented 'best practice' (or the new practice of usage goes - 'Good practice') for ITSM.
There is a real danger in my mind that ITIL v3 can be seen as having moved away from being a practical guide into the area of theory...There is a legitimate case for ITIL to be ahead of the game in terms of suggesting novel approaches, but they should be sign posted as such. Conversely there is not enough sign posting of those things you must do if you are going to deliver effective services.
A better term than "best practice" is "good practice" and an even better term is "generally accepted practice", like GAAP for accountants. Either ITIL is Generally Accepted Service Management Practice or it is providing thought-leadership for where ITSM should be going in the future. It says it is the former, and everyone thinks it is, but it behaves as if it is either, depending on the author and the chapter.
Here are some possible reasons ITIL has wandered off from GASMP and contains unproven bleeding edge ideas:
- the authors want to be clever
- OGC wants ITIL to stay current for another ten years without having to go through another Refresh
- ITIL is now a handbook for consultants not end users
- Parts of ITIL are there to generate new markets for the vendors and/or consultants
You pick, or suggest others.
There are no clear indicators in the books of which ideas are which. They should be colour coded; blue for safe proven GASMP; red for theoretical ideas suggested to the industry as a future direction [at least one of the books could just be printed on red paper]. But they aren't.
This is dangerous for the very people ITIL is supposed to serve: those who need guidance in ITSM. If they know enough ITSM to differentiate when ITIL is being pragmatic and when it is being blue sky, then they don't need the books.