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ITIL Version 3 Service Strategy: An Early Review

If V2 taught us how to walk, V3 teaches us to run. Trouble is, says The IT Skeptic, many organizations are still sitting down.
Jun 18, 2007

The IT Skeptic

The first of the five books in the ITIL Version 3 core suite, Service Strategy is ITIL’s bid for credibility outside the back room. Actually, much of Version 3 is a cry for acceptance at higher levels in the organisation (or a power grab for more of the business, depending on your perspective).

But Service Strategy leads the charge, making an effective case for delivery of IT as a service, and for a strategic, analytical and theoretical approach to such delivery.

One group of readers will consider this book an excellent solution for some fundamental problems with ITIL versions 1 and 2: the lack of a theoretical and philosophical vision; the relegation of business considerations to a backwater book seldom referenced; and, frankly, an inadequate emphasis on IT as a service despite all the claims in the introductions to the ITIL books (count the references to service catalogue in the Version 2 books).

Whether they agree with Service Strategy or not, the academics, theorists, pontificators and philosophers of ITSM will consider this book one of the most interesting things to happen to the sector in a decade.

Another group of readers will reject Service Strategy as an upstart attempt to give some white-collar credibility to a blue-collar framework. ITIL comes from the wrong side of the tracks. Operations people wouldn’t know a strategy if it stood up in their porridge. Their grasp of architecture stops at Visio diagrams of a physical network. Previous attempts to extend ITIL’s tentacles into solutions development, procurement and other aspects of the IT business have been seen off with the contempt they deserved, but this book returns with a land-grab at a whole new level of presumptuousness.

And a third group will discard it in bemusement or frustration. Service Strategy reads like a university textbook.

Heck, it is a university textbook. The first 70-plus pages are a systematic and comprehensive documentation of the body of theory behind modern business analysis based on value networks and dynamic systems, with a particular focus on how these apply to the delivery of operational services within the organisation or to customers of the organisation.

Then we return to planet Earth with a second 70-odd pages of more execution-oriented approach to the processes that live in this book: Service Portfolio Management, Demand Management and Financial Management. However, the heavily theoretical tone remains, and many practitioners will find this a burden. They will want to cut to the chase.

I predict that more pragmatic theory-stripped versions of this part of the book will be highly successful publications for those who can get through the copyright minefield the OGC is busily laying (this means probably only itSMF and a few chosen others).

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