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You Don't Need Every Part of ITIL

ITIL describes a near perfect end-state most organizations not only don’t need, they could never attain (at least not easily), writes ITSM Watch columnist Hank Marquis of ITSM Solutions.
Oct 20, 2006
By

Hank Marquis





Any reputable player in ITIL marketplace will honestly tell you not everyone needs ITIL, and those who could use ITIL don’t need every bit of it. There is nothing wrong with that, and anyone who won’t tell you this is trying to sell you something you probably don’t need.

Many have made a tidy living convincing clients they need full maturity in every ITIL discipline. Again, this is just plain wrong. You only need to implement those parts of ITIL you need and find appropriate, and you only need to mature them to the state required to do the job you need.

Thus a real ITIL implementation will only consist of the processes required and within those processes only those activities needed.

A reputable professional will even tell you if you don’t need ITIL at all and, in fact, might be better served by an alternative to ITIL. Yes, there are alternatives to ITIL, and for some organizations or requirements, they are better solutions.

ITIL Alternatives

These alternatives fall into three broad categories:

  • Those based on or derived from ITIL including Microsoft Operations Framework (MOF), Framework for ICT Technical Support (FITS), etc.
  • Homespun solutions that, while not purposefully based on ITIL (or anything else), seem to work.
  • Frameworks similar to ITIL but specific to an industry or purpose, for example COBIT, ETOM, TMN, etc.

    Some of these alternatives are very different from what ITIL describes. Consider the Enhanced Telecom Operations Map (ETOM.) ETOM evolved from common practice, to defacto-standard, and gave rise to ITU standard M.3050. ETOM/M.3050 is the standard for managing IT organizations within service providers such telephone/telecommunications carriers.

    Both ETOM and M.3050 describe how to mange and diagnosis problems, establish service level agreements, etc. ETOM and ITIL address many issues compatibly but the perspective of each is radically different. ETOM includes order entry, billing, and even marketing elements—advice beyond the scope of ITIL.

    Telecommunications Management Network (TMN) or ITU M.3000 is an international standard describing a framework for interconnecting systems and networks as well as defining the infrastructure needed to support the management and deployment of telecommunications services. Much like ITIL, TMN is based on multiple standards and best-practices and aims to reduce costs, improve service quality, increase efficiency, etc.

    Then there is COBIT. COBIT is not a standard or a best-practice. It is a collection of control objectives for the specific purpose of making IT auditable. COBIT is also very different from ITIL (but, then again, it serves a very different purpose). COBIT and ITIL are not mutually exclusive, and in fact, when used together, often result in a better and more controlled IT organization.

    Consider also ITIL variations. Microsoft’s MOF is derived from ITIL (often word-for-word). The difference between them is ITIL is descriptive and not prescriptive—it does not tell you how to do much of anything. MOF on the other hand is prescriptive, and details exactly how you should use Microsoft products in order accomplish the objectives it contains (which just happen to be ITIL objectives in almost all cases).


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