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ITIL v3: Still No Rush

Three years on and there's still no compelling reason to switch to ITIL v3, writes ITSMWatch columnist Rob England, a.k.a. The IT Skeptic.
Aug 28, 2009

Rob England

We ITIL'ers are process people not technophiles. Yet, when ITIL v3 came out so many of us were rushing around getting all in a tizzy over it like a bunch of geeks running from booth to booth at Tech-Ed. We’ve mostly calmed down now but many on the ITIL journey are now puzzled about whether and when to go to version 3. Relax. There is no rush.

Why not, you ask? Two years ago, I looked at this question in an article here on ITSM Watch. I gave five reasons:

  • There is nothing much wrong with ITIL v2;
  • Version 3 is too big with no help available on getting there;
  • It's is too raw and nobody understands it properly yet; 
  • Only a small proportion of the community are advanced enough to need v3; and 
  • Version 3 certification isn’t even ready yet.

In the intervening two years, only the last of these reasons has, finally, gone away.

v2 works. It is good. I’ll bet you never thought you would hear me that. But it does and it is. I have been critical of aspects of v2 but overall it is a fine body of knowledge. If v2 worked for a business last year, why wouldn’t it work this year?

My home PC is a Pentium3 (and it runs SimCity3, which is really all I ask). My phone is an old i-Mate PocketPC: a big chunky tablet, no fancy keyboards, no 3G, no WiFi … For many years I drove a 1974 Holden HQ Kingswood. That will mean something to only a tiny minority of readers but if I tell you it had a bench front seat that sat three people, and a three-on-the-tree column shift, you’ll get the idea.

The point is these things work. They met the need back then so why not now? In business as in life sometimes the requirements change and so must the supporting infrastructure but sometimes they don’t. Or the move can be delayed until the infrastructure is ready. Not only does v2 work well, but v3 is a big ask. If v2 taught us how to walk, v3 teaches us how to run. The trouble is many organisations are still sitting down. Only some organisations have already embarked on the ITIL journey and many are not that far along the road. I’d hazard a guess that maybe only ten percent of sites are ready to make use of the more advanced aspects of v3.

Starting with v3

Certainly there is an attraction in starting out with v3 so you don’t need to “convert” later. Do not rush into this decision. For beginners or less advanced sites, there is currently little information about how to get to the higher standards of v3 in any graduated or phased manner.

As a result of integrating all the "Lost Books" of ITIL v2 (how many know that there are 9 or 11 books in ITIL v2?), ITIL v3 is an order of magnitude broader and more complex than the red and blue books of v2 that most people work with. This is an advance for the industry, a step up in competency. Unfortunately, it is only a step up if you are already standing on the ITIL v2 step. If you have not embarked on the service management journey yet, then v3 represents a high wall. Chuck the Five Core ITIL v3 Books at a beginner and they'd run screaming.

upgrading, ITIL v3, IT Skeptic, ITIL v2, no rush

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