Constructive criticism or demonising ITIL?

A recent blog post by Aidan Lawes deserves response. Actually all Aidan's posts deserve response, unlike some blogs that deserve just to be ignored. I'm responding to this one in particular though because Aidan says "I have less time for those who demonise [ITIL] for shortcomings that are more to do with their view of what it should embrace" and I'm egotistical enough to think I'm one of "those" he has in mind with that comment.

As I've remarked before, Aidan is quite a skeptic himself

some of the strategy book in particular is more “best theory” than “best practice”; some of the “processes” lack process definitions and are arguably more function than process; there is inconsistency in structure and a huge blurring between purpose, goals and objectives

But then he appears to criticise those of us who challenge ITIL for limitations in its scope or capability

Criticisms ...are often as much bemoaning what ITIL isn’t as targeting real gaps...
they appear to want a definition of what to do, how to do it (including a defined set of templates), standard tools to manage matters and how to measure it for conformance and/or capability & maturity...
Good managers and consultants shouldn’t be driven by a method or framework but by an understanding of what’s needed and being able to respond appropriately. ITIL is just one tool...

ITIL is indeed just one tool. But it is presented as a "framework for service management" which certainly implies to me that the tool is for covering all the aspects of service management - that it is a comprehensive tool for ITSM. Comparing it to COBIT I'd give it a C pass on covering what Joe Public thinks of as ITSM.

But of course ITIL doesn't stop there. ITIL touches topics that are not in that limited definition of ITSM, such as continuity or finance or applications.

Arguably ITSM is just a perspective on all of IT management and any IT activity can be said to contibute to ITSM. In which case ITIL has a number of gaps: solution acquisition and integration, development, projects, training, human resources or people management or wetware or whatever you want to call it, real security, IT governance...

So ITIL is a tool for what? The public wants it to be a comprehensive guidance on how to run IT. I think it is often positioned as that. The only people I hear insisting that there should be a multiplicity of frameworks are framework consultants. The reality is that there will always be multiple frameworks. Another reality is that the public want one reference framework across all of them, and they think it is ITIL, and they're disappointed when they find it isn't (especially when they get the consultant's bill for telling them it isn't).

I see no reason why ITIL can't be as broad as COBIT, nor any good reason why it isn't, other than time and effort. So I'll go on saying it should be a one-stop shop for IT management, and it can be... if COBIT doesn't beat it to it.

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