The Skeptical Informer, June 2008, Volume 2, No. 6

The newsletter of the IT Skeptic. All the IT skeptical news that is fit to print... and then some!

The IT Skeptic grows weary of beating up ITIL certification, but really it is getting beyond a joke. OGC celebrates ITIL's "first birthday" and all we have to show for it is a Foundations course whose syllabus is still hotly debated, and a couple of bridge courses which have come in for strong criticism and are about to cop some more (watch the blog). The IT Skeptic thinks IT qualifications in general are crap and will continue to crusade for better.

Hopefully this month's newsletter won't require any retractions. ISO/IEC 38500 is out and should be available about now. This whole question of what is governance is a most interesting study, and we shall blog on it more.

Another interesting question is "who cares about ISO20000?". I get mixed messages so we are running a poll. Have your say please, and watch the result.

While you are contributing, please keep an eye out for any Crap Factoids, or for any scuttlebutt. We haven't seen much of either last month.

The website featured two series of posts in May: one on Big Uncle and one on ITIL business cases. Neither has been a runaway success in terms of reader interest but I'm quite pleased with both. I think the whole idea of Big Uncle as the benevolent side of loss of privacy is a fascinating one that does not get enough attention amongst all the doomsaying and hysteria. And I'm weird enough to think that busines cases are fun. On the downside, my apologies for the lack of podcasts lately - I'll get on to it.

Last month the IT Skeptic website added a new subscription notification mechanism. The website is based on Drupal, and they had released a new version of subscription. The upgrade was not without some pain and I'm still working on the format of the emails. Please be patient. The underlying architecture is better - we hope it will serve us better going forward.

On a personal note, I had a great time in the mountains with my son and friends; our lives have been brightened by the arrival of Astro the puppy who will show up on the blog from time to time; my article on Governance was included in Novatica; I had the satisfaction of being one of the highest-rated speakers at the itSMF Netherlands conference; I will be speaking at the Singapore and Thailand conferences this October; and I had the OGC logo debacle to chuckle over. Nice.


This post has been podcast
Can the five core ITIL V3 books be compressed into one without significant loss of content? Yes it would seem so, looking at the itSMF's ITSM Library book Foundations of IT Service Management Based on ITIL V3. How useful is the result? Worth having but still not an all-out replacement for the Five for the simple reason that it isn't the official version.

Every so often discussion on this blog touches on something fundamental. Lately we've been examining how ITIL seems to have a bet each way: it wants to be proven and bleeding edge at the same time. This is dangerous for the very people ITIL is supposed to serve.

ITIL V3's Service Knowledge Management System (SKMS) is something to aspire to. But it is seldom a good decision to do it right now. WARNING: don't try this at work.

This post has been podcast
Now that OGC have outsourced ITIL certification and trainer accreditation to APMG, a private for-profit company, let us look at the people who influence the shape of ITIL V3's slowly emerging qualifications system.

The governing body advising APMG, the "senior examiners", is mostly made up of the biggest vendors. Check out the names:

This post has been podcast
How does IT Operations get control of "the other half"? How do we stop them chucking dead cats over the wall for us to own? It is pretty straightforward.

Many people, such as ITSMView, are asking the question "Is ISO 20000 set to take over ITIL?" Perhaps they should be looking over their shoulder at another ISO standard and the associated industry: ISO9000.


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Pondered the ramifications, debated the implications, now there is only one thing left to do: get the t-shirt! Or coffee mug or mouse pad...

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From the blog

At the request of a fellow skeptic, I am asking readers to name one, just one, example of an ITIL V3 Service Knowledge Management System, SKMS, in the wild. Not the beginnings of one or part of one, or a bastardised version of one. Just one fully formed, grown up, functioning SKMS. Name one.

In our discussions of Big Uncle, we have seen how privacy is pretty much a thing of the past, certainly in the electronic realm. In the final blog post of this series, we look at how it is up to all of us to ensure that the result is Big Uncle not Big Brother.

We have already discussed what should go into a business case (and we will some more). You can get the content right but fail at the communication of it. The pitch is as important as the story.

Make sure the way the case is explained does these things:

Further to our discussion of business cases, I have seen too many busines cases that contain arguments that are simply not compelling. They seem compelling to the author because the author is too self-absorbed to see things from the perspective of their target audience. Usually this boils down to whining.

A new publication from OGC highlights three good reasons why an ISO20000 certification of an organisation does not provide ITIL V3 certification (and the last one applies to ITIL V2 as well).

We have been discussing ITIL business cases in some previous posts. Now let's get down to the nitty gritty: where is the value in an ITIL project?

The keys to a strong ITIL business case are some basic things:

• There ought to be low-hanging fruit. If there are no real short-term gains you will never hold the attention of either grass-roots participants or senior management.

I thought I'd add a suggested soundtrack to the IT Skeptic blog

Note: only US readers can buy but anyone can listen :-D

Certifications in the IT industry are so wimpy that ITIL Manager's looks tough. But stack it up against any undergrad or postgrad IT degree and it is just a test. Perhaps one day soon there will be plenty of ITSM-related degrees for it to compete against and it won't count for much any more.

Everyone who is interested in ITIL V3's credibility in the Application Management space should read the recent OGC white paper which shows how little ITIL used an existing respected on-hand body of knowledge.

ITIL attempts to establish authority over Application Management. Does ITIL V3 have what it takes? No. As bodies of knowledge go, it is scrawny and under-developed.

Do some vendors push the envelope of what is acceptable behaviour for those involved in itSMF? You bet. So how do we deal with this for the best interests of ITIL? Not by banning vendors, that is for sure. We need better user representation and better controls.

In previous posts the IT Skeptic covered some basic principles of business case design. Let us apply those principles to a business case for an ITIL project.

The previous posts said the strength of a business case is money, real or imagined; the strategy of a business case is how it is aligned with the target organisation. With strength and strategy, and a little luck, you can succeed.

There is an excellent blog post by Terry Doerscher over at that asks the question "Who Left ITIL in Charge of Legitimizing IT Practitioners?". It is a great read. So who did?

The CMDB Federation was formed in April 2006 by CMDB vendors so they could tell people they were moving towards a common standard of interoperability, known in the CMDB world as "federation", so the group is called the Federation. Two years later what have we got to show? Glacial advance. That's the way the vendors want it.

In a previous blog post we discussed how if you are part of a business then you should run like a business and that means having a business case, i.e. Find The Money. What if you can't FTM? Relax. It does not have to be real money. It just has to look like money.

Talk about timing. The IT Skeptic hears that, within a day or so of this blog, APMG got its accreditation back (look under "t" for "The APM Group"). Congratulations. Even the most strident of APMG critics must be sympathetic about having to wend the byzantine pathways of bureaucracy.

The EXIN-and-ASEB (British Computer Society) stranglehold on ITIL certification slips even further away with the accreditation of a sixth Examination Institute (EI) by APMG, the OGC's outsourced official accreditation body. This despite the fact that APMG remains embarassingly without its own accreditation withdrawn by the British Government for six months now.

There is much discussion of which processes to start with in ITIL, or what order to do them in, or whether to do them at all, or how to decide. If the decision on which processes to reengineer is driven by a business case then the right ones will be chosen: those where ITIL will yield a return to the business.
FTM: Find The Money.

ITIL V3 process modelOGC have recently published the long-promised Lifecycle Process Model for ITIL V3. It is pretty much useless in its published state.

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