In May of this year, the core practices of the new version of ITIL were published. The new series, entitled ITIL Service Management Practices, is based on a service lifecycle approach and consists of six core books: Service Strategy, Service Design, Service Transition, Service Operation, Continual Service Improvement and Introduction to the Service Lifecycle.During its development this library has come under intense public and media interest. Experts, sceptics and the public are either hailing the new version of ITIL as the long-awaited ITSM Holy Grail or the end of what we know ITIL – or knew – to be. The author team and I believe that the truth lies somewhere in the middle of this hype; ITIL practices are at last coming of age and expanding the horizons of IT service management. This is what the ITSM community has been asking of ITIL for years now.
The current version of ITIL is recognised globally, mostly for two of its nine book set, Service Support and Service Delivery. They offer a process-focused view, largely operational in nature. Some say this is what ITIL should continue to be. Others say that has been part of the problem with ITIL.One thing is certain and that is there are polarised views circulating about what the new version of ITIL will look like and what it must be to meet the consumer’s need. ITIL popularity continues to grow globally, as do the formal qualifications that support the practice. A large, global, heavily-invested industry has grown around ITIL. What will a shift in the ‘ITIL way’ mean for the industry? What will happen next with a new approach and a new release of ITIL on the heels of business?
For the community that lies in wait, these aren’t the only questions they are eager for the answers to. Below, industry experts and I attempt to provide them.
Many members of the ITSM community have commented on the need to keep a process-based focus for service management and have criticized ITIL v3 for moving to a lifecycle view. Do you think the changes coming to ITIL will result in improvements to ITSM? Do you think a Service Lifecycle approach fits into the industry direction?
Michael Nieves: Ambrose Bierce once observed that, whereas there are an infinite number of reasons for not changing something, there is only one reason for changing it: that doing so is right. Process does not fix everything. Without the proper approach, it may even make things worse. Process is necessary and vital, but brings about its own set of challenges. These challenges often work over the long-term to degrade otherwise successful improvement programmes. Process frameworks which never acknowledged these situations, such as TQM and BPR, peaked in the mid-90s and are increasingly shunned by business leaders. We fail the ITSM community when we facilitate known problems.
Take, for example, the waiter who says, “that’s not my table.” In a certain sense, the waiter’s mental model is flawed. While his tables may be well-taken care of, it is the success of the restaurant that matters most. The tables and waiters are inter-related parts of one system. Care must be had that the well-meaning day-to-day activities do not undermine the long-term goals of the restaurant. Similarly, a process-based approach can sometimes treat many topics as ‘that’s not my table,’ often working against the long-term goals of the organisation. ITIL v3 therefore takes an endogenous view – meaning ‘inside the system.’ The waiters instead see themselves as part of the restaurant’s larger system; following day-to-day process while dynamically adjusting to unforeseen events appropriately. And therein lays the beauty of the service lifecycle. It is the qualitative focus on the big-picture; an organising framework that sometimes results in strikingly different conclusions than those generated by alternative approaches. It shifts the focus of ITIL from processes to services, from the means to the ends.
Paul Gostick: This is an interesting issue. As IT organisations evolve into a Service Delivery model there is a growing awareness that there is no real separation between the business process and the technology that underpins and supports it. The challenge is how to convince both the IT technical community and the business customer that IT does not simply manage hardware and software, but is an integral and inextricable part of the business.
Many IT organisations are at the very early stages of a seismic cultural shift from a technology focus to being truly integrated into the business and not just aligned with the business.
ITIL has historically focused on what needed to be done but, being a framework, was not prescriptive in terms of how to do it or where to start. Now the emphasis is about when in the lifecycle of a service, do changes need to be considered and performed. The primary focus is shifting from process to IT Service. In essence, ITIL v3 Service Management is about a set of specialised organisational capabilities for providing value to customers in the form of services.
In this sense and also looking at the trends towards business service management, we should see improvements in ITSM as ITIL v3 gains traction.
Maria Pardee: I don’t believe the lifecycle view prevents an organisation from having a process-based focus for service management as there are still processes during each of the lifecycle stages. Since it has been developed over two years and enhances best practices across industries, and evolving thought leadership on ITSM, then if applied correctly v3 may improve ITSM. For some industries the lifecycle approach fits well. Within the software industry, however, the emergence of agile techniques and practices may prove difficult to apply to the planning and development phase of projects which are moving away from a waterfall model which is closely aligned with the lifecycle approach.
Ken Turbitt: The previous version of ITIL was about IT-to-business alignment and this is something many organisations, large and small, are still grappling with. So many with this focus will wish to use ITIL v2. Many customers and potential customers that I talk to are still implementing ITIL in silos to address immediate pain points and so they reach for, say, the Service Support book and dig into the section on Incident Management or Change Management. Now we know the real value is in implementing many sections together in an integrated manner. Change and Configuration Management together, Incident and Problem Management together, for example. Today this serves to get many onto a best practice route and begin to stabilise their IT operations, moving from a state of chaos to reactive. Now, with ITIL v3, the service lifecycle approach is still valid and some organisations will want that focus, as opposed or in combination with, the IT-to-business alignment. However, the good news is that many actually implement on a service-by-service basis, so having a lifecycle approach will aid this, provided they can select the services they wish to implement one by one and not be driven to all or nothing. Many cannot afford that disruption to their current operations, let alone the cost. So I think initially both have a place. Moving forward, confusion will exist with two versions of ITIL and we need to keep evolving to cater for both perspectives, IT-to-business alignment and service lifecycle, ensuring people can implement in a phased approach, not a big-bang approach.
George Spalding: I believe the service-based IT department has always been the goal of ITIL going back to version one. Treating Service Level Management as just another process never really worked. SLM represented a paradigm shift in the way IT and the business defined success. Without SLM, IT could continue to measure server and network availability and customer satisfaction surveys from the Help Desk and pat themselves on the back. When SLM is fully embraced, the definition of success in IT changes to: Did you meet or exceed the Service level? ITILv3 takes that one step further. Did the business get what it needed? When it needed it? As good as it needed it? Even though they didn’t ask for that much to begin with? Has IT created value? We need to stop talking business/IT alignment and starting talking business/IT integration. That’s what v3 does.
Jim Clinch: Absolutely. A collection of processes is not a rich enough context to convey all the elements of service management. The findings of our global consultations told us that ITIL should be thoroughly grounded in business value and relevance to customers’ desired business outcomes, rather than remain an island of IT excellence. This scope of business relevance and alignment sits very well with the new lifecycle based framework. The processes are all still there and provide an orthogonal perspective. Changes to existing processes have been largely rationalisations.
What are they key ITSM issues that you think face us in the next three years that ITIL v3 must address to be successful?
Maria Pardee: The complexity and diversity of IT services is growing exponentially and strong processes to manage the development and change of those services will be essential. They must not constrain the creativity that we are seeing in the IT domain with the advent of web 2.0 services where customers can create their own IT services from elements or fragments of the service that various organisations provide.
Michael Nieves: I think the key issue that confronts us is how to make the ITIL ideas more acceptable to the audience who are in the best position of being able to do something about them. It’s a very difficult task because we are a very conservative culture. The ITSM community has had enormous success and our principle attitude is ‘don’t fix what isn’t broken’ or ‘leave well enough alone’, rather than recognising that we are an airplane flying through a hurricane and if we don’t continuously adjust our position we won’t get there.
There remain very persistent problems in our industry. The most important challenges lay ahead, not behind us. They cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them. ITIL practitioners will have to work hard to meet these challenges - move past prior successes - in order to stay market relevant.
George Spalding: I’m not really worried about the success of ITIL v3. The number one issue is that IT must demonstrate its value to the business. If it cannot, IT will be outsourced. The current options available to the business are too great to ignore. IT must be run as a well-managed business, not a fiefdom of geeks. If ITIL v3 moves that forward then it will succeed.
Paul Gostick: For ITIL v3 to be successful, we must see its impact. That is, the value it is creating for IT and the business, and the measures to use to determine this value. In addition, better guidance on where to start and project-based applications are needed to help guide ITIL success. This is what Visible Ops does. The IT Process Institute believes that practitioners will only get a couple of shots at ITIL before the business determines that ITIL is only a passing fad for IT groups looking for excuses. Practitioners will need to illustrate success to the business and they need a clear path for getting there.
Jim Clinch: The days are over when IT practitioners can think of themselves as separate or special in comparison with other service providers that support the business. In common with the others, IT must understand and demonstrate the value it adds. In the past few years, many internal IT departments have found out the hard way that, actually, the business has a choice of service providers. Both the business and IT service provider have to understand the nature of the services space and the choices that each has. The new Service Strategy book goes a long way in mapping this landscape. Understanding and applying these ideas will benefit both providers and customers.
Ken Turbitt: I think the first issue will be how to deal with pervasive computing. Change and configuration management needs to be able to handle always-connected, complex mobile devices and applications. Interfacing more with some of the Telco best practices like NGoss and eTom will help, as they have experience in this kind of complex environment.
The second issue will be service supply chain management, as many organisations will outsource some or all of a service, which may only be a part of a larger business service. The potential problems will include how to manage that end-to-end service supply chain in terms of technology, service levels, process, procedures and roles and responsibilities.
Lastly, it’s service management. Regardless of whether it’s IT or business, treating it all in the same management manner could be challenging. For example, the business ERP and IT ERP (often referred to as BSM) converging under the same management protocol or standard. Part of this will be service portfolio management with project portfolio management and applications portfolio management.
There is a new Qualification Scheme being developed to support ITIL v3. Many think this is an opportunity to address current gaps in the depth, quality and delivery of ITIL education. What key improvements do you feel are necessary for ITIL education that would make ITIL certifications increase their potential?
Ken Turbitt: Foundation, Practitioner and Manager are all good in their own right for the level of skill necessary for various individuals. In my view, team certification is required to not only train and accredit an individual, but collectively teams that could work together in delivering and supporting a service. It would also be helpful for continual improvement of the individuals that some scheme similar to the BCS or IMIS be taken into account so points are awarded continually when people have external education on related topics, either through formal training or as part of presentations or events. Maintaining a ‘current qualified’ level of points ensures that these people keep their knowledge up-to-date and relevant. Finally, as IT is such an important, indeed endemic, part of business today, the certifications should be made a part of any university degree on service management.
Jim Clinch: There have been drivers for change in qualifications other than the content changes and additions arising from the new ITIL. In revising the examination scheme for the new ITIL, the examination panel will have considered career paths, i.e. progression through the qualification structure, and the different needs of managers and technical specialists. There is a drive to improve consistency across the world in various locations and languages, and also between examination institutes and between training organisations. The result will be a more attractive portfolio of qualifications delivered through a more cohesive global governance structure, covering the full scope of the new ITIL.
Paul Gostick: The real issue isn’t about a training gap that causes ITIL to fail, but rather a failure between the planning and execution phases.
Maria Pardee: One has to be careful with all qualification schemes and certification exercises. Having an ITIL certificate does not guarantee that a practitioner working on a project will deliver good customer service for IT services. As with all process/systems design activities, there is no substitute for real hands-on experience.
George Spalding: There is no question that the biggest advancement in the new certification scheme should be a continuing education requirement. Nearly every respected certification programme incorporates both a continuing education requirement and a verification of work experience for their highest levels. ITIL should be no different.
ITIL v3 is said to have content targeted to a C-level audience. Do you think CXOs care about ITIL? Should they? Why or why not?
Jim Clinch:I would not expect CEOs, CFOs etc to care about ITIL per se. Perhaps the CIO should be aware. I would expect all these senior figures to care more about providing value to their customers. That is precisely the new focus of ITIL. Senior business readers may find that ITIL Service Strategy puts IT Service Provision in a business context they can appreciate, and in that way it may be useful. That book can certainly be read by business consumers of IT services and will inform their choices on issues such as insourcing, outsourcing and shared services. The key contribution the books will make is providing a language that both providers and business consumers of IT services can relate to, and which is no longer focussed on optimising processes but on delivering business value.
Maria Pardee: CXOs care about ITIL when a tender document specifies that the service providers deliver a service that is ITIL compliant.
Ken Turbitt: This is an interesting point. All CXOs would be impacted in some way by either the lack of ITIL deployment or when full ITIL is deployed. However, they do not necessarily need to know about the best practice called ITIL, only the benefits, improvements and results it will bring. So, if you mention ITIL to a CEO or CFO they may glaze over, and rightly so. But if you mention protection of profits (reducing unplanned downtime via mis-managed changes), you would grab their attention. I think if we get away from IT service management and look at service management, then elements like the service strategy will strike a chord at the CXO level to ensure the corporate strategy is reflected in how all the services that make up a business are delivered. Only at this level should the CXO be aware; except for the CIO/CTO, anything else would be too much information and needless detail. After all, the CEO will know of GAAP and what is pertinent to him, but he may not know all the details - he would expect the CFO to know all this. What they do need to know is that, like accounting and finance, IT has a best practice which aids compliance to regulations and stabilises IT operations, ready for new projects.
Michael Nieves: One of the biggest problems CXOs have is dealing with fundamental change and the difficult issues that emerge. Management strategies that have worked in the past may not be effective today. Most improvement efforts never get off the ground. Rather, they generate initial success but are ultimately overcome by organisational resistance. How should you change them? What are the most optimal steps you can take to improve? How do we make internal capacities reflect demand? How do we resolve the difficult issues of the organisation? ITIL offers methods for managing more intelligently. Any executive seeking ideas on solving difficult management and organisation problems should be acutely interested.
George Spalding: CXOs shouldn’t care about ITIL. They should care about what IT can do to enable the business and how IT can innovate new solutions to business dilemmas. ITIL is now, and has always been, one of the best means to that end.
Paul Gostick: The IT Process Institute (ITPI) Benchmark Study findings show us that high performing IT organisations significantly outperform their low and medium performing peers. Comprised of 13 per cent of the 98 organisations that participated in the study, high performers are able to complete eight times the projects, support six times more applications, complete 14 times the changes, show five times the server to sysadmin ratio, have the fewest repeat audit findings, have one-tenth the mean-time-to-repair, one-half the change failure rates and one-quarter the first fix failure rate. These are measures that the business and CXOs should care about.
Most importantly, high performers have one-third less unplanned work than their counterparts and as a result of their high performance, demand budgets up to three times greater than their peers. We observe that to decrease the time and money spent on maintaining systems, IT organisations must have superior production service delivery. According to the ITPI Benchmarking Study, IT can increase their project throughput and ability to meet due dates by decreasing unplanned work. As a result, they are able to increase the amount of resources they are given to deliver projects, creating a virtuous cycle where they have more and more resources for strategic, planned work. The key to changing this ratio is controlling unplanned work.
Since the current version of ITIL was published, CobIT, Six Sigma, Sarbanes Oxley and similar frameworks and legislated requirements have crept into the IT service spectrum. There is now even an ISO/IEC 20000 standard for service management. Must ITIL now compete for attention in this arena now or is there a reason that we would continue to need ITIL with all this?
Paul Gostick: Many people think that there is an overlap between Six Sigma, CobIT, SOX and ITIL. This is not the case. Any practitioner should be able to clearly explain the differences between each and how they complement one another. For example, ITIL is a descriptive framework for IT process areas describing roles, responsibilities and processes and how work gets done within this framework. CobIT on the other hand is a descriptive controls framework that uses a plan, do, check and assess approach. CobIT does not discuss underlying IT processes. Six Sigma is a process improvement model, focused on how to use processes such as those defined by ITIL, to decrease variance in defects. SOX is focused on ensuring that specific controls exist to ensure effective achievement of financial reporting, meeting specific control objectives. Using the whole of any of these framworks, or worse, trying to use all of them concurrently, is a dangerous practice.
Maria Pardee: ITIL must compete with these other initiatives, unless it can prove that the use of ITIL supersedes the need for some of the other practices. I cannot imagine any CXO signing off on their Sarbanes Oxley obligations on the basis that they were ITIL compliant for their ITSM.
George Spalding: We should stop using these endless lists of frameworks as if they are all the same. The more you know about each one, the less similar they become. CobIT 4.0 is now an IT management framework that is so broad in scope that no one in the world is able to meet all of its recommendations. It has become the goal of what the perfect IT shop might look like given enough time, commitment and resources. About half of the CobIT processes can be mapped directly to ITIL. The Sarbanes-Oxley legislation references COSO which, by extension, uses CobIT. ISACA created a guide for IT auditors which uses 12 of the 34 CobIT processes to define what a SOX audit should contain. Six of those 12 ‘SOX’ processes come from ITIL. Many IT audit firms recommend ITIL to their clients as the road to SOX compliance. Six Sigma is a great way to design and maintain high quality processes (any processes) but it doesn’t have much to do with ITSM. ISO20000 is based completely on ITIL v2 and fills the need for an ‘ITIL site audit’ and an ‘ITIL site certification.’ I believe that ITIL is the foundation for many other frameworks and standards. It will continue to serve as that foundation in the future.
Ken Turbitt: At present, of the frameworks mentioned, CobIT, Six Sigma and ISO 20000 are complimentary to ITIL and so do not compete. MOF does compete, though it is heavily based on ITIL v2. ITIL has, to date, international acceptance as the IT best practice for delivery and support of IT services. Therefore this position has to be nurtured and maintained, especially as many have aligned with it already. Many vendor applications have automated processes based on ITIL and a new competing framework would cause confusion in the market. After all, going back to the GAAP, we only have one. Now, we do need more collaboration between the other related/complimentary standards out there to assist ITIL followers and implementers. Take CobIT, for example; ITIL does not go into detail about what should be reported on, or which controls should be set in place for auditing. Working with ITIL and CobIT together would assist (many controls have ITIL headings for ease of reference already). Six Sigma is not a best practice for IT services, however it is good at removing defects in the service delivered and is part of the continual improvement arena. So, in short, showing the complimentary elements of the main best practices in conjunction with ITIL will greatly assist the business and hopefully avoid a new ITIL emerging and competing with the one we’re currently upgrading.
Jim Clinch: All these frameworks coexist in the world but each has a different focus. For example, CobIT is demonstrable to auditors, Six Sigma is an optimisation tool based on defect reduction and SOX is about demonstrably sound business governance. ITIL is about the management of IT through the perspective of service delivery. It uses effective, measurable, repeatable processes, and the existence of these means that it is possible to manage IT effectively and demonstrate control and compliance to corporate governance standards. In a similar way, ISO/IEC 20000 is a specification and code of practice but ITIL can provide the structure, organisation and processes to demonstrate that the specification is being met. You should still customise ITIL to optimal effect in your particular organisational circumstances, but it forms the bridge between your practices and the specification in the standard.
Michael Nieves: ITIL is a very different animal. It has one foot in the domain of frameworks and the other in the land of instruction manuals. At its heart lie many apparent contradictions. It is formal discipline that allows for emergence and self-optimisation. It combines the analytics of process with the synthesis of systems thinking. All of these are necessary given the fluid and ephemeral nature of its subject matter: services.
Those who suggest ITIL is challenged by frameworks such as CobIT and ISO/IEC 2000 have misunderstood the nature of ITIL’s strengths and successes. As long as IT is at the centre of the service economy, we will need something like ITIL.
A myriad of ITIL-based products and services exist in the market today, many claiming to be ITIL-compliant. Do you think the release of a new version of ITIL will send vendors scrambling to engineer new products for the ITIL market space?
Jim Clinch: Because ITIL is a generic best practice framework and to be applied it needs to be customised to local needs, the term ‘compliance’ is not really appropriate. Maybe ‘compatible’ is better. I expect tool and service providers will wish to align their offerings with the new ITIL. Hopefully, this will lead to more valuable and useful products and services.
Paul Gostick: Vendors should be less excited about a new version of ITIL and more excited about creating real business benefit from their ITIL offerings. Wouldn’t it be incredible if there were a 90-day business benefit guarantee with these vendor offerings? As an industry, we should be focused less on the language of ITIL and more on the results, analysing what works, what doesn’t work and replicating successes.
Ken Turbitt: That’s a good question to put to a representative of a major vendor! The vendors are keen to understand what is within the ITIL v3 (Editor’s note - this interview was conducted before ITIL v3’s release). We already know that what is in v2 will be in v3, so many of the products are protected from that standpoint. However, we also know that new areas are emerging and enhancements to existing areas are going to be made. The vendors will review and assess and will enhance their ITIL-aligned applications and systems, and, if necessary, bring out new ones for the ITIL v3 elements. I have to say that I’m not sure about there being a ‘scramble’, but vendors will be keen to help consumers by aligning with the new version where appropriate. This will only benefit the customers who are intending to align and implement ITIL v3, though, as the vendors will continue to work on improvements, making it easier to upgrade and implement the new processes. As always, the key issue to watch out for will be which vendor has the best integration for the delivery of the full solution at a process level.
Maria Pardee: No, I suspect they will continue to claim that they are ITIL-compliant. My experience of this is that it is especially difficult to prove and almost meaningless. For example, many of the large software packages that we deploy claim to be ITIL compliant; however, they all allow a large degree of freedom in how you configure and execute the processes that they support. Depending on who implements the processes, and how they are deployed to the users, may mean that your processes are not even close to ITIL compliant.
George Spalding: There is no such thing as ITIL-compliance. ITIL is a framework, not a standard. You must have a standard with very specific stipulations in order to measure compliance. Many of the existing products have done a wonderful job of automating the integration of ITIL processes. We refer to these products as ITIL-compatible. In many cases the vendors have lead the industry and ITIL v3 with their products. In ITIL v3 Service Operation we now have event management and service request management separate from incident management. Many vendors had already done that because that’s what the customers needed. There will be new and upgraded products, of course. But the many vendors are further along than they even know right now.
Gartner has predicted that a major future growth area for ITIL is the small to medium enterprise. Skeptics predict that ITIL v3 with its service lifecycle approach caters only to the large, deep pocketed consumer. Do you agree with this? Can’t small and medium enterprise benefit from a lifecycle approach?
Michael Nieves: I fundamentally disagree. Knowledge has become the single most important factor of production and the nature of knowledge lies in its intangibility. How do we determine the scalability of something we cannot touch? How do we tell if a business is too small or too big for an idea?
ITIL and the service lifecycle is a management idea. Management ideas matter to all enterprises, small and large. When J. Westerman travelled to England and Holland in the mid-1700s, he wanted to know why the English made superior ships and the Dutch made better ceramics. Imagine his surprise when he learned that both nations used machinery identical to that used in his home country, Sweden. The difference stemmed from the superior management techniques of the British and Dutch. Scale was an implementation detail. Like the British and Dutch, small and medium businesses frequently compete on their superior application of management ideas.
Maria Pardee: Any business can benefit from the adoption of standard measurable repeatable processes at all stages of the lifecycle. I suspect the Gartner prediction is based on the fact that the SME area is probably the least disciplined from a process perspective, because of the nature of the organisations serving that market being small enough to know their customers and their staff, so good service can be delivered in an ad-hoc manner. As these organisations grow, they need to introduce the rigour of process and procedure and ITIL will be a natural selection.
Jim Clinch: All users can benefit from the lifecycle-based structure. After all, they all compete in the same marketplaces and need to appreciate the same truths about competition, value and best practices. From the ITIL development side, the core books come first and they must cover everything. The large contains the small, but there is a lot of simplification possible for smaller organisations, although I appreciate that the whole thing might appear daunting for a smaller user trying to apply it. There is a book, originally called ITIL in SITU (Small IT Units), which, at v2, was renamed ITIL: Small-scale implementation, and the authors are already revising that in the light of the changes in the new ITIL. It will be published later this year.
Paul Gostick: Early research from the IT Process Institute has found that ITIL success has less to do with the size of the organisation and more to do with the complexity of hand-offs within the IT organisation. Initially, it has been found that less complex organisations receive 70 per cent of the benefit from three foundational controls and more complex organisations receive 70 per cent of their value from only nine foundational controls. If you believe the research, there are differentiators, but it does not come down to the service lifecycle, it comes down to the controls necessary to create performance improvements.
Ken Turbitt: The debate on this has been ongoing since the release of ITIL v2. Many small to medium organisations are said to find it too much to handle. Yet we know that many actually carry out the functions by accident, unaware that ITIL describes it. The difficulty arises in determining what you call small to medium. In the US, a business defined as an SME would be considered large or even an enterprise in many parts of EMEA, so it becomes difficult to answer. The obvious response is that the content will be of value regardless of size; even if you do not implement, one will have learnt and put some beneficial changes into place. My view is that ITIL v3 will be mostly for the large enterprises, especially when it caters for outsourcers, but the information will still be relevant for SMEs, too, though full adoption may not occur. Actually, full adoption in many large enterprises of the existing version of ITIL has yet to happen!
George Spalding: Without question the larger enterprises will benefit from ITIL adoption to the greatest extent. The introduction of process into smaller organisations has always been challenging because a small number of people wear a large number of hats. The ‘hero’ culture is most prevalent in SMBs and most often rewarded and valued in SMBs. ITIL specifically, and process initiatives in general, will allow smaller organisations to position themselves for growth and increase efficiency at the same time. I believe smaller enterprises will continue to focus on getting their process act together, then worry about the service lifecycle later on.
The entrance of ITIL v3 into the market will offer opportunities to innovate new products and services to the ITIL consumer. What buyer beware advice would you give to the average consumer about early product hype that might knock on their doors?
Maria Pardee: ITIL v3 is an evolutionary enhancement to v2, not a revolution. The world will not change overnight. Start adopting and applying v3 practices where appropriate and measure the benefit as you go along.
George Spalding: In terms of software, the reputable ‘suite’ vendors will include any new features or elements (event management, request management, etc) through their normal upgrade cycle over the next year or so. Many of them are already touting modules that automate the business relationship of IT errors. The most exciting developments may come from the niche players in the Service Catalogue arena as they expand deeper into the Service Portfolio area and wider into request management.
Jim Clinch: In keeping with the advice in Service Strategy, I would advise ITIL consumers to understand the value proposition of whatever is being offered to them. A good response from ITIL users to the changes in ITIL might be to ensure they are informed, and to implement whatever will give them most benefit. As with earlier versions of ITIL, it is a question of prioritisation. Users should implement ITIL content in areas where it is evidently better than their current practice, whatever that is.
Paul Gostick: Be sceptical. If ITIL v2 didn’t work for you, there is no reason to think that v3 necessarily will. Be critical and analyse why v2 didn’t work, and if those answers are not in v3, determine the right place to find those answers.
Ken Turbitt: As with any hype, even as indicated in the Gartner Hype Cycle, it raises inflated expectations. Therefore, as always, it is best for the consumer to read the new books covering the new product or service area being investigated and ask appropriate questions of the vendor. This will both show that the consumer understands what they are looking to acquire and test the vendors’ knowledge of ITIL and their products or services. The benefits from ITIL come from the integration of the processes, the life-cycle automation, so always test how well integrated the new product or service is to the existing elements at a process level.
ITIL v3 will offer a research and knowledge centre aimed at involving the community and partners in maturing and evolving ITIL practice going forward. Currently there is no formal research, analysis, and knowledge management evolution managed by ITIL. Do you see this as an area that ITIL should continue to develop going forward? Could (and should) this become a centre of innovation for ITSM?
Ken Turbitt: This is a great idea. However, many of these activities are currently carried out by organisations other than the owner of ITIL (OGC). Such as the itSMF and BCS, for instance, plus analyst organisations like Gartner and Forrester, and many vendors, too. Many of these Organisations will not want to hand over this information to a new body creating an ITSM knowledge centre. However, a facility of coordination with links to key information from all of these sources would be of great value. I notice that ITP Global has been trying to facilitate such a framework recently, and maybe it could become the conduit for this working with OCG and itSMF and the others I mention, and many more I’ve not. So the idea/concept is good but the issue would be around facilitation and content ownership/access.
Michael Nieves: There are many exciting ideas and best practices taking place in disciplines far removed from our industry. IT is not the only field to have customers, deal with complexity, or suffer the vagaries of human organisations. ITIL v3 was very careful to reach beyond IT and take a careful look at how leaders in other industries are solving their most challenging problems. Our community places a premium on pragmatism, often ignoring theory. While we all want to know ‘what to do on Monday morning,’ the rest of the week may not be as cooperative. We often overlook important solutions simply because we are not armed with the proper mental models that allow us to adapt and innovate in real-time. An engineer would never think of physics as impractical, or a doctor look upon chemistry as unnecessary knowledge.
Research and analysis is equally vital to the practice of service management. A centre of excellence moves past this dysfunction by placing theory and practice in complementary roles.
Maria Pardee: It is essential that ITIL continues to evolve and mature as IT as a service continues to evolve and mature. This would seem a sensible role for ITIL to progress.
George Spalding: The ITIL v3 scheme incorporates the concept of complementary guidance – a living library of additional information on very specific or isolated topics that can be continually updated. It saddens me that current ITIL research has been left to the commercial entities like consultants, training organisations and software vendors to create in order to ply their trade and sell their wares. We already have an organisation that represents the ITSM community worldwide – itSMF. This is where the research and knowledge centre should reside. The itSMF has existed for 15 years in the UK and nearly a decade in many other countries. It’s time for the itSMF to step up and lead this movement.
Jim Clinch: The nature of best practice is that it is not invented in one place or monopolised by one organisation. ITIL principles are based on the most effective approaches wherever they have been observed, which is why the OGC has drawn on an international base of IT service management and business expertise for its authors and reviewers. Any attempt to actively seek and research best practices in an ongoing organised way to improve ITIL is useful, and will enhance support materials to v3 and prepare the ground for v4.
Paul Gostick: This is terrific and necessary. We should elevate the level of formal research and analysis to that of pharmaceutical drug trials.
There have been major benefits claimed from ITIL adopters over the years in investing in ITIL. Does the evolution toward ITIL v3 raise issues or opportunities for those with mature ITIL practices today?
Paul Gostick: We should test the benefits claimed by IT adopters over the years and if they are repeatable, codify them and incorporate them into ITIL.
Jim Clinch: Opportunities. I can’t believe there is no room for improvement even in current implementations widely regarded as successful.
Maria Pardee: Upgrading to a new version of anything always raises issues as there may be a cost in re-certifying processes or re-working processes to make them v3 compliant, which may not deliver any real business benefit. However, I suspect that those with mature ITIL practices are also the sorts of organisation, like our own, that constantly strives to improve their services and the management of their services. The enhancements in v3, which are heralded as ‘best practice’ from industry leaders and experienced ITIL adopters, are likely to assit organisations in the improvement of their processes.
Michael Nieves: The removal of physical constraints has restructured our thinking about information production and consumption. The manner in how information-based services are conceived, produced and distributed is changing. We have seen the emergence of new business models where knowledge and productive capacity is more dispersed than ever before. For IT organisations to flourish, it is not enough to simply intensify existing management strategies. ITIL v3 raises both these issues and their opportunities. We’ll have to wait and see where the market takes us from here.
Ken Turbitt: If the benefits are already being realised within mature ITIL organisations’ implementations, then one expects to find that many of the new enhancements to the existing process in ITIL v3 have already put in place or looking into. If the new services or areas, as yet unknown to us, add value to the delivery and support of all services, then this is good and will be looked at by these organisations. However, the main issue would be gaining new funding for more best practice initiatives when the business budget holders think this project was already completed or is nearing completion. I do not see organisations clamouring to obtain the new books and start implementing immediately. Yes, they may get the books out of curiosity to see what is new or changed, but will not risk more disruption by moving to the new version if their v2 implementation is mature. In my opinion, the move to v3 will be made over the next three to five years as vendors provide the capability. As v2 content has been moved over and enhanced in v3, then those already implementing v2 will and should continue as the overall objective is not ITIL (v2 or v3), but the stability of IT operations and the ability to change quickly with minimum disruption to current services within the business. Supporting and maintaining the business is the goal, not ITIL itself.
George Spalding: A best practice framework should be based on best practices not best new ideas. I think that the question should be re-phrased: Did the ITIL v3 authors correctly capture and document the most successful practices of the more mature ITIL adopters? I hope we did.