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Ten Things They Don't Want You to Know About ITIL v3

Jun 23, 2008

Rob England


Although the core set of books are supposed to be stable, the complementary set is intended to be revised regularly, and even the core set are intended to have “updates and amendments” (in fact, there has quietly been one already). Do you buy v1 software before the first service pack?


ITIL v3 represents “good practice”, i.e. proven generally accepted practice. Except where it isn’t. Parts of v3 are speculative utopian models untested in practice, e.g. Service Knowledge Management System. And other parts are hotly debated, e.g. value networks. These parts look the same as every other part—you need to know.


itSMF International now owns a competing complementary body of knowledge called the ITSM Library. Even TSO sell it. There is no guidance as to which one should be used when. Even itSMF was confused enough to initially embargo the publication of the books after buying them. The ITSM Library originates out of the Netherlands, edited by Jan van Bon and published by Van Haren Publishing.


OGC is publishing white papers to explain how v3 aligns with ASL, COBIT and ISO20000. The books don’t tell you. The answers are:


COBIT: not published yet


ISO20000: close but no cigar. The paper plasters over most of the cracks but can’t cover up the lack of Known Error or SKMS in ISO20000.


ASL: they don’t. Described as "Living Apart Together". My interpretation: they have divorced but stay in touch occasionally.


And no-one tells you how ITIL aligns with the Project Management bodies of knowledge PMBOK and Prince 2, which is pretty important now that ITIL has muscled into Application Management. Service Operation gives Project Management two paragraphs (p165), and not as part of Application Management. Service Transition gives Project Management a couple of paragraphs too, but appears to duplicate all of its functions in the Service Transition plan (p40). Service Design spends more time on it (p31-32) but only vague directions to keep the project honest, not details of how the interface might work between Service Design and Project Management, and never once mentioning PMBOK or Prince 2.


Nowhere on or in the five core books, or the Official Introduction, or the Key Element Guides, does it actually say “Version 3”. You are supposed to know.


Rob England is an IT industry commentator and consultant, and nascent internet entrepreneur, best known for his blog The IT Skeptic. He lives in a little house in a little village in a little country far away.