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The Pillars of ITIL are Crumbling

Is it time for OGC to hand over the reins?, asks ITSM Watch columnist The IT Skeptic.
Mar 28, 2007

The IT Skeptic


OGC (the U.K.'s Office of Government Commerce) is providing an essential public service by creating and owning ITIL for which we are all grateful. It is hard to think of a better owner than a government body. But there are many pillars of the house of ITIL and OGC governs and manages only three (one now outsourced).

It is time the OGC handed over the reins to someone that can control all the pillars, or took it to that level themselves.

Other Articles by The IT Skeptic 


What Goes into an ITIL Business Case

ITIL Must Embrace the Collective


Stop Calling ITIL Best Practice


What You Need to Know About "ITIL Compliant"


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OGC’s ITIL isn’t growing at all. With v3, OGC is maturing what they have — documentation — but where is the surrounding infrastructure? As ITIL has grown in adoption it has also grown in scope to match. ITIL isn’t just books anymore and hasn’t been for some years. The growth that is happening is ad-hoc and outside the control of OGC or any one body.

There are several components that make up the scope of ITIL, my “Pillars of ITIL." You may name a few more.

Core content: Owned by OGC and tightly controlled through copyright. Good stuff. Some uncertainty with v3 imminent.

Complementary content: Well regulated and quality assured (others may debate this but most of the books seem to me to be in good shape).

Governing board: There isn’t one. There is no über-body that represents all the stakeholders, has elected members, sets policy and strategy, and provides governance, for all the Pillars of ITIL.

As ITpreneurs say “The ITIL market is still predominantly a market guided by customers but dependent on a delicate coalition of interests (OGC, itSMF, APMG, ISO, TSO, EXIN, ISEB, education companies, consulting companies, and tool suppliers). For the market to work effectively, the players need to collaborate.”

The newly formed Combined Strategy Board (CSB), chaired by OGC, may provide this function. It remains to be seen. APMG says the Board has “responsibility for global marketing and overall product development”, which is a promotional role rather than a governance one. Moreover there is no transparency of this body: it seems to publish nothing, its membership is appointed not elected, and it has no accountability.

Professional Body

There was nothing until recently that provided certification and college for practicing professionals. Now we have the Institute of Service Management in the U.K. and the newly formed Institute of Certified Service Managers, or the IT Service Management Institute in U.S.

Do any of these have the official recognition of OGC? What governance does it provide over their activities or standards? Why is the ICSM-USA only for ITIL “masters” but the U.K. body more broadly for “senior ITIL-ers”? Because nobody is internationally regulating the emergence of these bodies.

User Group

The itSMF is often presumed to be the user group for ITIL practitioners and users. But it isn’t. In theory it is a body dedicated to the promotion of service management standards and practices, including ITIL. Look at the aims of itSMF International:


  • To develop and promote industry best-practice in service management;
  • To engender professionalism within service management personnel;
  • To provide a vehicle for helping members improve service performance; and
  • To provide members with a relevant forum in which to exchange information and share experiences with their peers on both sides of the industry.

    Note there is nothing about representing the views or looking after the interests of the members (other than providing networking). itSMF exists to represent and promote service management as a concept. This is a fine ideal. Just please don’t be under the illusion that itSMF is in theory a user group providing the voice of the user community.

    In practice, it varies from country to country. In some it is an ITIL networking club; in others it is the public face of ITIL, serving the theoretical aims; in others it veers close to being the captive body of vendors.

    Sometimes the itSMF presents itself as the voice of members, but how does it derive its understanding of what members want? There is no forum, no voting, no surveys. Sometimes the views of national committees are canvassed (usually at short notice) on key issues. It would be more accurate to say it represents the voice of the senior network of the ITIL “elite”.

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