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ITIL v3: Passing the Skeptic's Test

The notoriously tough IT Skeptic takes a hard look at v3 -- and likes it! (Well, mostly.)
Jul 2, 2007

The IT Skeptic

I tried to hold off commenting on the recently released ITIL v3 core publications until I had read all the books thoroughly, including Sharon Taylor’s Introduction, which is still coming. But I have to say it: My first impression is that these are excellent books.

As discussed in a recent review of the Service Strategy book, it will take considerable time to really digest these books and their implications, and to test the chisel of theory against the cold hard rock of reality (none more so than the Service Strategy book).

But first impressions can be drawn now and they are good ones.

The books are beautifully designed (as a matter of personal taste I’d have chosen a slightly less aggressive bullet style). The colors and fonts are easy to read. The layout is fresh and clear. The covers are pretty. Printing is crisp and the paper quality excellent, though I question how long the covers will stand up to the kind of service some of us will be subjecting them to. But the binding seems pretty strong.

The content is laid out logically and to a consistent plan between books.

Some of the books have a lot to say. One hesitates to pick on Service Design, given the pedigree of the authors, but it is a big book. The objective was for the books to be the last word in ITSM best-practice, not a pocket guide. And that they are: simplification will be the order of the day for many sites. The world awaits an ITIL for Dummies book. We can leave it to time and the community to decide how much of the content is debatable opinion and how much generally accepted practice.

Okay, Enough of That...

The other question for the world to put to the test is how practical and useful the books really are. I had mixed feelings. On the one hand these are a superb comprehensive reference. On the other, the depth and sheer volume of material will be a challenge for many organisations. What a demand there will be for consultants to interpret and apply it all!

The other thing I’m not sure about is whether we have more or less advice on risks and problems and how to deal with them than we did in v2. There are practical tips scattered throughout the books, but the formal discussion of risk and problems is pretty light in some of them, e.g. Service Operation, of all books, devotes just five pages to the organized discussion of challenges and risk. Service Design has just one-and-a-half!

One assumes the authors figured they covered it all elsewhere, but people are not going to read these books cover to cover: they will refer to them. “Challenges and Risk” is one of nine standard chapters for all the books. It should not be tossed off in a couple of pages, as they all did except for Service Strategy.

The “Implementing” chapters are equally anemic in the four books that have it, except for Continual Service Improvement, which has good stuff.

Next Page: Curiously coy...

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