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ITSMWatch Holiday Book Giving Guide

What do you give the ITSM professional who has everything? ITSMWatch has waded through this year's publications to bring you the five best books of 2010.
Dec 15, 2010

Elizabeth Harrin

Configuration Management: Expert Guidance for IT Service Managers and Practitioners by Shirley Lacy and David Norfolk - "People need the CMS (configuration management system) to perform their IT and service management activities," write the authors, "and also to make informed decisions at appropriate times, for example when assessing the impact of a release going into production or the impact of incidents and problems."

Okay, so it's not the most thrilling of topics, but one all good service management professionals should love. The book is based in part on interactive presentations given by the authors, so it includes feedback from those people who participated, making it a very representative book on the subject of config management. It also includes a chapter on good ideas and what to avoid - great if you're looking for a quick start to launch a config management initiative in 2011.

Cooking for Geeks: Real Science, Great Hacks, and Good Food by Jeff Potter - With chapter headings like "Initializing the Kitchen" and "Fun with Hardware," Cooking for Geeks is a book for the uber IT professional in your life. There are kitchen experiments, interviews with scientists, researchers, chefs and food bloggers. Oh, and there are recipes, too.

"For most of us techies," writes Potter, "the largest obstacle in building something great has changed from a technical to a social one. The question is no longer can you build it, but will people want it?"

This book takes a quirky look at the question of what the end goal of any activity should be. In ITSM, it's happy customers. In cookery, it could be any number of things from expressing affection to health or financial reasons. Okay, it's a tenuous link to service management, but the underlying message of "know your end goal" when in the kitchen is one that we can link to our day jobs. And any cookery book that advises, "Don't be afraid to burn dinner!" has to be a good read.

The Myths of Innovation by Scott Berkun - Who says ITSM can't be innovative? Innovation is part of the continuous improvement loop, and we should all be looking to do things better. The Myths of Innovation offers an unconventional way at looking at problems and managing the innovation loop.

"In everyday experience, a problem is something we want to get rid of quickly," writes Berkun. "Discovering problems actually requires just as much creativity as discovering solutions. There are many ways to look at any problem, and realizing a problem is often the first step toward a creative solution."

Berkun explains that it isn't always the best ideas that rise to the top, and that innovation isn't always a good thing. This is an interesting and thought-provoking look at managing with ideas, which any service manager will find interesting.

Effective IT Service Management: To ITIL and Beyond! By Rob Addy - "Unless you have been living under a rock for the past couple of years," writes Addy, "you will know that ITIL is a documented set of processes designed to define how a company's IT functions can operate."

This isn't, however, your average "How do I do ITIL" book. This one sets out the case for and the case against ITIL. "'Best practices' by definition mean that you are only average," he writes. "ITIL was originally developed by government officials to allow government officials to manage IT projects more effectively than they had done previously. Whilst ITIL probably did do great things to improve the effectiveness of these institutions, it should be remembered that the government is not, and is not likely to become, the performance standard against which modern business measures itself."

This is a conversational book that asks some interesting (and tough) questions of service management teams.

ITIL v3 Planning to Implement Service Management by Colin Rudd - At £75 (about $110) this book is expensive, but if launching ITIL is on your list of New Year's resolutions, or if you want to review your own approach to service management, this could be a (weighty) one for under the tree.

This new version of the book has been completely updated with lots of new content, especially around managing the cultural change that comes with adopting service management practices. Covering a six-step process to planning service management implementations, roles and responsibilities within service management, and some helpful hints about enablers and blockers to a successful transition to an ITSM environment, this is a really comprehensive book.

It's not designed to replace the core ITIL books, but it complements them, and as a TSO publication, it's from the same family as the core books so you can expect them to dovetail nicely together.

Elizabeth Harrin is Computer Weekly's IT Blogger of the Year 2010. She is also director of The Otobos Group The Otobos Group, a business writing consultancy specializing in IT and project management. She's the author of "Social Media for Project Managers " and "Project Management in the Real World". She has a decade of experience in IT and business change functions in healthcare and financial services, and is ITIL v3 Foundation certified.

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