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Pink Elephant's PinkVerify Proves Compatibility, Not "Compliance"

Response: ITSM Watch guest columnist Bill Irvine of Pink Elephant clarifies PinkVerify in response to The IT Skeptic's column about ITIL "compliant" product suites.
Nov 30, 2006

Bill Irvine

Dear IT Skeptic,

I agree there is no such thing as an ITIL “compliant” toolset as you said in your November 16 article.

In order to comply with something you need a standard. The best we have from an ITIL standpoint are the guidelines that were defined in the ITIL Version 1 books—IT Infrastructure Support Tools & IT Service Delivery Tools—that address various topics: Conformity with the IT Infrastructure Library, scope, criteria, data structure and handling, etc.

The PinkVerify “compatibility” service uses these guidelines to test for some basic functional capabilities, appropriate levels of integration and to ensure ITIL processes are effectively supported to at least a minimum level by the toolset.

We also categorize the tools into groupings based on the number of processes they attempt to support and we look to ensure they follow the appropriate process flows and integrate these between the processes effectively.

PinkVerify is provided as a free service to ITIL practitioners to help them identify some of the products that at least meet ITIL’s guidance. Pink has not attempted to “rate” the functional capabilities of the products but to focus on “verifying” to ensure it meets a basic set of requirements.

A basic ITSM support product may pass the ITIL criteria in the same way that a functionally superior ITSM suite does. Your choice depends on your specific needs.

I am pleased to see that at least some of the vendors are genuinely trying to create a toolset that fully supports the ITIL processes. Having lived through a couple of ITIL implementations using the 3M Post-It note approach in the early '90’s, I’m a big advocate for trying to use an ITSM toolset to reduce the administration and help automate process compliance.

There are also some interesting collaborative activities underway where a few of the vendors are trying to develop a “common” CMDB schema, which would help to drive some standardization that isn’t specific to one vendor’s outlook on what ITIL support tools should do. This should help sort out the functional capable tools from the label change products you referenced.

It would be great to have more definitive functional requirements that are formally sanctioned by OGC (U.K.'s Office of Government Commerce, developers of ITIL) but as you indicated these are not available leaving organizations to develop their own list of product capabilities that meet their ITIL and business specific needs.

I guess that what the OGC and ITSMf were trying to avoid in not defining “product criteria” was the issue we see all the time with clients in that each IT organization has a very different set of needs based on their current technologies, size, architectural design, etc.

ITIL processes are “one size fits all,” ITSM support products are not.

Every organization should go through a process-centric review of potential toolsets before they purchase them. Whether a product has been verified as “ITIL compatible” or not, it must be tested with specifically designed use cases to confirm it will deliver on an organizations functional expectations as part of the selection process. Anyone who buys a toolset without going through this formalized process will get what they planned for.

There are a huge number of available products that use ITIL terminology. These products may or may not meet the needs of a specific organization and the more process-mature organizations will probably need a functionally sophisticated (and typically more expensive) toolset to meet their increasing IT governance needs.

Like the Skeptic, I wish everyone would just say “compatible,” there is no such thing as “ITIL compliant.”

Bill Irvine is an executive consultant at Pink Elephant, an ITIL consultancy.

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