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ITIL v3: Passing the Skeptic's Test

Jul 2, 2007

The IT Skeptic

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Implementing ITIL is a meta-lifecycle: a lifecycle for the lifecycle. As such, the core books “accidentally” have useful material on planning, design, cultural change, etc. that is as applicable to implementing ITIL processes as it is to implementing services. Additionally, a good case can be made for a complementary book devoted to the subject, since much of it is generic across all the core books.

I found the books light on practical examples. One particular disappointment for me was the Service Catalogue example in Service Design. It is trivial, banal. Sure there are going to be “value added" examples on the internet and all sorts of complementary content, but we may end up wishing the books were not so theoretical. If you are going to put samples in, make them robust ones.

While we are on the topic of Service Catalogue, I wrote recently about how it is the pivot to the whole wheel of ITIL (to borrow a metaphor current in v3). Service Design gets stuck into the subject, fixing a huge hole in v2, but it is curiously coy about one essential aspect of the Catalogue: as a selling tool.

It uses dry terms such as “the customer view”. It acknowledges there are business and technical versions of the Catalogue, but the business version is not treated as what it is: a brochure. If IT is to operate as a business and meet business on its own terms, marketing is an essential activity that does not feature in these books except for Service Strategy which addresses it head on. Or maybe I haven’t found it yet.

Perhaps my biggest objection to v3 is the continuing insistence on a CMDB, or rather a CMS as it is now, which is an even more complex system of multiple CMDBs. I've written before about how CMDB is a technology solution to a process problem that only serves to line the pockets of the tools vendors and send poor ITIL implementers on a fool’s quest.

ITIL is admirably vague on the technological underpinnings of process in all areas except this one. It is high time the processes were designed without this requirement either. Just like service desk, good processes in other areas can work without much configuration technology. They just work more efficiently and effectively with it. I had hoped v3 might improve the situation, but it seems only to have compounded the complexity.

These issues aside, the books are a wonderful addition to my library. Three hundred quid is a lot to pay, but most users will be spending somebody else’s money anyway, and I’ll get my money’s worth before the covers give out. To all those who worked on these books: Great effort folks! Thank you.

The IT Skeptic is an ITIL professional and active itSMF member who, for editorial reasons, prefers to remain anonymous. More thoughts from the IT Skeptic can be found at his website. The IT Skeptic's latest project is BOKKED: The Body of Knowledge > KnownError Database, where you can record errors you find in books > just such as > ITIL Version 3.