Who now controls ITIL?

Who now controls ITIL? Who sits atop this multi-billion-dollar empire and calls the shots? The real power behind ITIL is still fragmented, although one wonders for how long. The IT Swami predicts!

The books

One of the reasons I publish my books independently is because many publishers think they own you. They think it is their book, which they pay you advance (if you are lucky) and fee or royalty to write. I'm getting clues that TSO are coming to see the ITIL books as "their" product. (They reportedly saw no problem in issuing a revision of the books without asking the authors or OGC). I hope not. I hope they remember they are the servant contracted by OGC to provide outsourced publishing services, and that OGC and their other providers can say and do as they wish about ITIL brand and content without being answerable to TSO.

Then you have itSMFI publishing books that are heavily branded as "official" books, Van Haren still(?) the "official publisher" to itSMFI, itSMFUK publishing their own books and a few other chapters too. Watch itSMFI battle to get that lot under control. ISACA are moving to bring content under a single umbrella (easing out ITGI) - it is time the ITIL community did too but it will be a much longer road.

The web presence

[Updated: removed the detail to a new blog post]

TSO and APMG both maintain websites "on behalf of" OGC. TSO also maintains their own commercial site with a confusingly similar name to the "on beahlf" one. Neither of them provide any user community- that is left to itSMF to do. All of the sites have entirely different look-and-feel. Page ranks of pages are [corrected:] 6 or less, while for purposes of comparison the less popular ISACA quietly maintains a page rank 8. The Wikipedia entry is rubbish. ITIL's online brand presence is a dog's breakfast - ill-conceived and poorly executed.

The brand

The web presense is a big part of any brand in this decade, but the number one aspect of brand is of course the trademark.
Who owns the ITIL brand? The trademark is still under OGC control but see "The Future" below. Right now OGC defend it as fiercely as a sedated shitzu.

One wonders how much the itSMF brand is associated in the public mind with ITIL. Not too much I suspect. I find awareness levels of itSMF way below those of ITIL. Nevertheless ownership of that itSMF brand bears watching. The itSMF trademark is still held by itSMFUK, though obviously itSMF International want it. Watch this space, stuff is going down...

The training

Books don't make a lot of money (except maybe the core ones). Some of the really big money is in the training courses and certification.

A panel of Castle ITIL known as the ITIL Qualifications Board seems to control this under the figurehead of APMG. The Examination Institutes are APMG's primary customers (not OGC and certainly not us). The training vendors are the ones who pay the money to APMG so APMG will not want to alienate them.

The consulting

Services remain uncontrolled by anyone. The ITIL Expert certification does not have the respect or awareness yet to make it essential for an ITIL consultant, and OGC shows no sign of wanting to control the service provider companies. Look how quickly one entrepreneural person grabbed the product certification space. There is an opening here for someone.

The software

ITIL drives a big software industry in Service Desk, CMDB, Event Management, SLAs, Catalogue and so on. Now that APMG are setting the standard for ITIL compliance, it would seem they are calling the shots. Right now APMG have the vendors by the balls, but the money is with the vendors so I am predicting it won't take the industry long to get control of the compliance scheme just as they did the certification scheme. There will be a vendor backlash and we'll quickly see a Board of vendors "guiding and advising" the compliance scheme.

The future

Back when this blog turned three I tried to contact the IT Swami for a contribution but I had to settle for Rob England. The Swami has finally surfaced. Apparently his latest research assistant Chantelle had a San Pedro cactus in her front garden - "had" being the operative word. Although he finished the resulting soup some weeks ago he still tends to incoherency, but by merging seven emails I came up with the following synthesis:

Nobody independant provides governance of ITIL. Every official body is drawn from the same old inner circle of OGC, TSO, APMG (and the EIs) and itSMF. As we have seen, multiple powers struggle for control of it. Sharon Taylor has put her own personal stamp on many aspects - which hasn't delighted everyone. She is a nice lady but it is neither suitable nor sustainable that one person try to bring it all together - it needs an official organisation. For COBIT it is ISACA, for ITIL it could be itSMF... or ISACA.

OGC seems to have a certain reluctance over their stewardship of ITIL. They've reduced their ITIL-focused staff down to pretty much nil. As ITIL grows so does the controversy, the problems, the power games, the onus. Maybe OGC would be glad to be shot of the thing. There is no reason it has to remain Crown property for ever.

OGC has already effectively turned itSMF down once, in the CAR tenders. itSMF has matured since then and continues to do so. ISACA already has the maturity, the reputation, the strong brand. ISACA are far from perfect (some of the qualifications structure bears closer inspection on this blog some time) but if it came to a race for some future OGC tender for ownership they might have a lead on itSMF. Hopefully all parties would see the sensible way out of such a situation and a merger will result. COBIT and ITIL under one roof is an attractive prospect. You read it here first.

With ownership of the brand and the copyright, one organisation could wield real power over governance, management and control of all aspects of ITIL. If the vendors can be kept in their proper place - that is as equal members - and there are the right governance structures, then that could be a Good Thing.


It is a farce

Maybe ITIL should practice what it preaches? If it cannot provide a framework to consistently manage itself how can it purport to be a solution for serious business? Personally, I think it's a hames.


"Hames: a pair of curved metal (or sometimes wooden) pieces lying on the horse collar of a horse harness, taking the pull from the traces "??

Yes Hames

That'd be a little bit of an ould colloquial term for 'mess' Skeptic. ;-)

Gartner Hype and ITIL

Have to say, that the comments in this thread match pretty close to where Garnter puts ITIL in its Hype curve.
Yea though I walk through the valley of discontent.....Someone is going to turn on the lights soon.

They should sell it

I do not think that the itil-boom has many years left. With V3 itil has lost its focus and by that everything. V2 was sorely needed to bring some order to the it-castle of the 80's. Service Desk, Incident and Problem Management was a HUGE step forward if you started with no organized support. Change, Release and Configuration Management helped to bring order to the Wild West of cowboy management of infrastructure. The training and certification system was aimed to the techies. V3 does not have the same power. It has been aimed to much wider audience and a lot of its old ideas have been adopted and it does not bring any original new ideas. I'm pretty sure that Aidan Lawes was right about companies turning away from itil training because V3 Foundation class is a waste of time and money.

Fads come and go fast, an optimist might hope that this will be the last it-management fad. From 2003 to 2006 the number of itil trainings doubled every year, after that the growth has been slower. So this would be the perfect moment for OGC to unload itil to some big corporation before the downturn becomes too obvious.


Twenty year old fad

How on earth do you define fad? ITIL has been around for twenty years--an astonishingly long time in the fickle world of IT. I can think of only one other similarly long-lived IT topic that remains relevant: TCP/IP.

All things come to an end. But ITIL has more than earned its place.

We invented the wheel

We invented the wheel thousands of years ago but the hula hoop was still a fad. ITIL laid dormant for most of that time and you know it. ITIL may have been around two decades but the ADOPTION of ITIL veers dangerously towards faddishness.

It remains to be seen whether ITIL sticks. Will all the sites who rushed into ITIL still be "doing" ITIL in five years? Cult? definitely. Long-cycle-fad?...to be determined.

Good prediction

Your 2006 entry was a good prediction, I had not read it.

I would say that in some areas ITIL training and implementation is a fad. To me it looks like teambuilding in the 90's. There is nothing new or wrong in teams, teams work. The fad was the teambuilding training with rock climbing etc. It created a whole industry of trainers which was a good business for several years when every manager wanted to do a teambuilding exercise.

Itil is good but the massive certification program is the fad.

it's not brain surgery

You know I agree.

I don't see why a well-experienced IT Ops person has to spend thousands, or TENS of thousands, of dollars for the "right" to run ITIL processes. Sure you have to get your head round ITIL to understand the talk and maybe even learn a new concept or two, but if you know your IT stuff and are half way smart it's not brain surgery.

But people love a slip of paper that says you know what you are doing, as if that could be tested by a few multichoice questions.

Time v Money

One feature of the original ISEB scheme that we've lost is the element of time investment. If I look back on a two week manager's course slide pack from those days there are less slides in it than for a V3 Foundation course. The difference is the amount of additional material there was in the form of exercises and practical case studies. The emphasis was very much on understanding and applying, with a fair bit of personal development thrown in for good measure. We always ran the courses residentially because evening sessions were the norm. It seems hard to believe in the current world but we also used to recommend exam candidates got five days of study leave from their jobs.

The downside of this was that the courses could hardly be productionised, and the true cost of the course in time and money restricted the number of candidates, but those who attended were usually highly committed.

This was obviously a factor in introducing the Foundation course as a way of sheep dipping large numbers

I don't see how we could ever return to those days, or that it is wholly desirable to do so. I do think that the combination of the newly qualification scheme and current economic conditions mean that what we have in place now is not sustainable and requires a rethink.

James Finister
Wolston Limited

Yes but

True, itil has been here a long time, fad is a bit strong word.

The worldwide adoption is still relatively new thing. In my market most people have known about itil for three years. I was talking at a local Service Desk seminar a few weeks ago and only a small minority said that they know itil.

politics not commerce

OGC aren't in it for the money. Civil service remember? If ITIL creates a useful justification for OGC's existence then it will be retained. If it causes too much grief they might just get shot of it. And whoever got it would have to be a politically acceptable choice. I don't see it happening any time soon. i'm just saying it's not impossible in the future

Office of Governement Commerce

Isn't OGC created to make money for HRM

Her Royal Highness is doing OK

I think Her Royal Highness is doing OK without the book royalties


No, OGC is intended to be self supporting but its objective is improve UK governements VfM


So, ITIL is OK but the certifications and tranings are not?

What I read her and in many other posts (also on other forums like LinkedIn) is that there is a common understanding that ITIL on itself is good. Most people claim the the things added and changed in ITIL V3 are worthwile. Anyway, for me the ITIL books are still a good sort of cooking-guides (like the one my mother gave me when I left the house)

We just do NOT agree with the current certification scheme and course content as dictated by The Lords Of APMG.

This would call for action. In France we would go for a strike (but I think that would be useless). Why don't we create an alternative set of certifications, certification scheme and syllaby in present that to the world (with or without the support of itSMF). Perhaps that might convince The Lords Of The APMG that they are on the wrong track. For a first suggestion and inspiration: take a look at EXIN's IT-Track approach which is based on competences needed to fullfull certain jobs (instead of bundling knowledge from just one book in a certification).

Can we fix it? Yes we can!! It's time for ITIL revolution!!

Eyes wide shut

I'm kind of hanging between. Is ITIL V3 good or is it an Enron/Subprime/Madoff-thing. There were a lot of experts who believed in those. On the other hand we have shown that there are a certain amount errors in the books but OGC/APMG/TSO are having their eyes wide shut. Nobody admits any errors but suddenly the worst bullsh** is taken off the Foundation exams. In a way they seem to be admitting that all books are not equal.

My dilemma is this. I'm losing business because I don't do V3. Am I being too critical? Should I start training it and do as James wrote?

Rob. Could we have a vote? Just for the registered people. It would be intresting to know what is the opinion of skeptical people.


Perhaps Aale, if you start

Perhaps Aale, if you start training ITIL V3
- you might discover once again that it is not perfect
- you may on the other hand discover some good things in it
- earn a bit more money, however stupid we might think it is, people always want the newest version of something

anyway, nothing is perfect, not even ITIL and......ask the guys form TopGear....how do you think a V3 engine would run ;-)

We'll just be patient and wait for V4 of even better V6 or V8. It's never gonna get perfect.

What should improve drastically though (in my humble opinion) is the certification scheme and certification approach (e.g. the syllabi totally lack any kind of requirements for practice). I still think that APMG is 3 steps behind the old V2 approach (EXIN/ISEB) which was better, yet not perfect!, than what we have nowadays


There's a lot of comment that the exam structure is not correct. Ultimately the owner is OGC. Have you tried contacting them and informing them directly?
They can only act if you tell them........

Well...I adressed them a few

Well...I adressed them a few mails on another subject but did not get much response so frankly.....I gave up hope.

Besides.....who am I? Just one silly Dutchman living in France.

It'll only work if a big group of stakeholders would react. If you see that even itSMF has trouble getting real influence in what Skep calls "Castle ITIL" you would really lose hope. The point is that even in itSMF the real users of ITIL training (the people who send their employees to training) are in the minority.
Many course participants end up enrolled on a specific. training because the purchasing department happened to find the training on the market with the "best value for money", that is: cheap, mainstream, the newest version and if possible a course institue with a good name in the market.

I think training of ITIL should be part a career development plan where people get prepared for their next role in the company. In the ITIL intermedia training RCV in the syllabus is stated:
(quote) "It is recommended that course providers make use of exercises to enhance the reinforcement of the learning objectives in this syllabus. To aid course
providers, there are areas within each learning unit whose learning objective include such phrases as “illustrate, discuss, use examples”, etc, which may be considered as opportunities to introduce practical course exercises. These are not mandated areas for practical exercises, but provided as suggestions for use by course providers" (end quote)

See for yourself, there are no mandatory requirements for excercises here (luckily EI's like EXIN demand a fair amount of excercises for a training to be eligible for accreditation ! ). Afterwards there is no check that the excercises have been done or understood, "just" a complex Multiple Choice exam which typicaly test a fair amount of "ability to understand MC questions" besides ITIL knowledge. The higher levels of Blooms taxonomy cannot solely be tested by MC questions. You will need proper assessments, real exams, just like at the university. Has anyone obtained his university degree yet by only doing MC questions (apart for the fake certifdicates that you can buy oin the internet ;-) )

Voting with feet

Those experienced people who think v3 is flawed (as opposed to those who think it is utter rubbish) know that you can always teach around the flaws. Good teaching is actually a good way of exposing flaws and developing improvements in a subject as part of feedback system. The current system appears broken in that respect, because the flaws in the exam structure itself get in the way - there is no dialogue between the delegates and the examiners.

In the UK some drastic price cutting seems to be taking place and I hear from freelance trainers that they are picking up less and less work. I think the market is already beginning to ask questions about the value of the new courses and structure, I know my client's are.

There are alternatives out there. A G2G3 simulation, for instance, probably provides a lot more value than a Foundation course if you are getting people to understand how ITIL can improve the service they provide. There is also training for MOF and ISO/IEC 20000, and then there is an increasing number of MSc. courses out there.

Eventually I think the ITIL exams will change in response to market forces, though possibly very late in the day.

Providing "alternative" ITIL courses with ITIL in the title raises all sorts of licensing issues, and I doubt would be possible. I have wondered aloud if it it would be possible to keep the v2 scheme going as a separate stream, sold off to another third party to develop independently.

The best option, and I know a lot of us are chatting about this at different levels, would be a scheme based around ITSM, embracing COBIT, USMBOK, ITIL etc. and adding in other experiential training which is of practical use to ITSM. Where, for instance, do you learn how to actually run and chair a CAB, or to negotiate an SLA.

Thanks James

It was good of you to remind me of the simulations. I used to do ControlIT but did not like the new and fairly complicated Quint simulation game so I started doing trainings without simulations. Now I have created a new game and did it first time today. The class was quite enthusiastic.

My new FluKiller Inc is a simple and easy game but it made the necessary points beautifully.



I have to say that in my Quint days I was a big fan of Control IT, but I think the G2G3 one works better and is more realistic. Apollo 13 doesn't quite do it for me because you can only kill so many astronauts in one day and walk away feeling good about it.


Come on James! You can only kill 3 astronauts at a time ;-)

We're getting a bit of topic I know, sorry Skep.

I've played Control It at least 150 times and still like it. The good thing about it is its adaptibility of the script (wich I percieve as a bit less in the latst versions of Contril IT I've seen, being 3.3). The older versions were available in more languages (French, German, English, Spanish) which is great. Don't know about the current version.

I find Apollo 13 appealing but found that the script could not very easily be changed (you always have to go 'round the moon). I'm not "up-to-date" with the latest Appollo versions.

Wall Street (Formally Quintegrator, the Quint game) has recently been simplified and runs well. Is at least available in English and French, but exclusively for Quint

What I like (as a game leader) about these games is that there is NO computer support and that you can still quit easily change things whlist running the game and managing the players who (especially in the first round) work and cry and panic ! As we want to show that working along processes really works, the human factor in these games is the most important. Also, playing the game is one fun thing. The preparaton and de-briefing of a round is far more important!

In France we have 4 versions of the G2G3 game (Polestar, Airport, StockExchange and another which theme I forgot ) non of them are translated in French and very "screen-driven". The scenario is completely computerised which leaves the gameleader with less possibilitues to intervene on the spot. I must say I've only seen demonstrations of thes games and never played themselves so I may be completely wrong.

The fun thing is that all these games (but Apollo) originate (are based on) from Control IT version 1 ;-)

Peter (Game-boy ;-) )

I'm fairly certain all these

I'm fairly certain all these products are derived from the grandfather of experiential simulators: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beer_distribution_game

While I am of fan of these products, I prefer the original. The modern versions focus solely on the "how?" while ignoring the "why?". So while they provide an improved conceptual understanding of ITSM -- and thus how to better react to changing conditions -- they don't trigger the sorts of insights that lead to structural change.

The beer game

The beer game teaches in particular the instability of systems in the face of lagging feedback, and in general the usefulness of systems theory to describe complex production and distribution chains. Not relevant to ITSM other than perhaps bits of Service Strategy and for developing an empathy for one of the challenges faced by users. The idea of a simulation game may come from the beer game but even that i doubt - the idea is older. Fun though.

So far the only ITSM game I've done is the Lucid-IT railroad simulation. I guess they are all pretty similar in intent. They teach how much more smoothly we deal with incidents if we have incident process in place (and roles and communications and ...) and then if we have the supporting ancilliary processes such as problem, config, change and knowledge. Far more relvant and applicable than the beer game, which is much too general for this context.

That's exactly why I

That's exactly why I insisted on preparation and debriefing being more important than playing the rounds itself. It's there where a good gameleader can make the participants realise the "why"

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