The Skeptical Informer, August 2009, Volume 3, No. 6

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

The itSMF has an established track record of providing plenty of entertainment. In the past I've used terms like "descends into farce" and "more fun than Harry Potter" (sorry I've forgotten who gave me that quote). True to form it looks like we can expect more fun with the upcoming itSMF International board election. New Zealand nominates an Aussie in competition to Australia's own Peter Cross, who is himself something of a firebrand who has stirred up more than one itSMF meeting in recent years. New Zealand's outgoing itSMF President Cheryl Tovizi pops up as Hungary's candidate. Odd I'd swear I saw Cheryl in Christchurch NZ a couple of weeks ago - which didn't surprise me as she does work there after all. David Cannon nominates to ensure continuity of HP's presence. (John Windebank is from ... whatever. Evidently the old IBM elephant continues to slumber.) I hope the other candidates are equally as exciting. Michael Kum Koo Ji has an ITPreneurs/Quint pedigree. John Deland worked briefly for Pink but otherwise I know nothing of his alliances and connections. And I know little about Rania Al-Maghraby other than she founded itSMF Egypt and she is a project manager by profession, which wouldn't be a bad thing for itSMFI. So sit back, grab some popcorn and settle down for the fireworks. The IT Skeptic will of course bring you all the news that you folk care to leak. Never dull, the old itSMF, bless 'em! Here's the content from the blog for this month - not so many posts but I think you'll agree there is some meaty stuff here. I'm proud of the body of work I'm building. I asked on Twitter if it is narcissic to enjoy reading your own stuff. I write for people like me - I write what I'd like to read. So I have in fact been enjoying reading The Worst of the IT Skeptic, the compilation of the first three years of the blog. Perhaps you might enjoy it too - take it on holiday with you, it is good value measured in cents per page.


All this crap about IT being innovators who lead the business is the last gasp resistance of a generation of geeks who can't stand the idea that IT is about as exciting and creative as building roads. A few road builders work in wild canyons building on steep cliffs and across great chasms inventing new solutions as they go, but the bulk of them dump gravel, roll asphalt and pour concrete. Get over it.

When you hire a consultant - or an internal expert staff member acting as a consultant - to drive ITSM in your organisation, what makes an expert in ITSM? It is more than ITIL.

How often is excellent customer service a competitive weapon and how often is it just an unnecessary cost burden on the organisation?

This BOKKE (body of knowledge known error) has been posted for a day or so, hundreds of views. I was sure someone would say "no you idiot, service impact analysis is right here" but not one. It seems to be true.


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Recent podcasts

This is a video (and synchronised powerpoint) of a presentation by the IT Skeptic given to itSMFnz Wellington chapter on "the COBIT Body of Knowledge - a layman's view". 42 minutes, no download required.
Using COBIT as the framework for ITSM, ITIL shouldn’t be centre of the universe: COBIT as more than just an Audit Tool

Classic Skeptic

There is much excitement about the potential for Web 2.0, in particular what is known as the Wisdom of the Crowd. Wikipedia becomes the repository of all knowledge, Google search statistics are the zeitgeist of the times and MySpace is the face of the world. Page rank is a measure of authority. Corporations appeal to the public for solutions to problems. The ivory tower is replaced by the democracy of the commons; the proclamations of the cathedral displaced by the hubbub of the bazaar. Not so fast.

From the blog

Chokey the Chimp says today's Crap Factoid danger is HIGH. Axios Systems have released a classic piece of crap that will spread rapidly. Watch your shoe soles.

Job title inflation is out of control. Mr X's job is to give "high-level strategy, corporate vision" to the suits at Fortune 500 clients of a US software vendor, and to do "orchestration of solution sales cycles". In other words he's a high-powered presales guy. His job title? Vice President. There was a time when a Vice President was the sidekick to the President. Now he's the sidekick to the salesman. I bet this is a salary-banding thing. Either that or corporate America has gone mad. Or both.

We shouldn't get too excited about other units of the business adopting service management in general or ITIL in particular. It is not as if IT invented it.

Let us summarise the skeptical arguments focused around the value of CMDB . [Updated to move some text up from comments]

itSMF has gone to RFP for a publisher for itSMF's own publications. The relationship with Van Haren has ended (Along with finally prying the brand from itSMFUK's grasp, dissociating from VHP is another of the old itSMF roots falling away. Watch with interest for VHP's next moves - they are likely to be canny ones). I doubt itSMFI are rushing into TSO's arms.

Recently I sat the ITIL V3 Foundation exam. Studying for it, sample questions show that there is now officially a distinction between "best practice" and "good practice" and it is worth a point in the exam to know the difference (and it was!). But I don't know how a student is expected to know about that distinction in meaning. In fact I think the questions are totally unfair.

A discussion on LinkedIn prompted me to comment that KEDB is a subset of knowledge management for service desk. I think it is important to take a broader view and provide access to more general information about solutions to incidents and resolutions to requests, not just workarounds to known errors. I've seen folk micro-design that one bit without considering a more generally useful system. I never quite understood why ITIL seems fixated on KEDB, giving it a disproportionate amount of attention vis-a-vis the more general support knowledgebase. Thoughts?

I believe ITIL has aspirations beyond its station. ITIL is an operational framework for IT production environments. So long as it knows its place and sticks to it, all is well. But every now and then it gets an inflated view of its own importance and starts poking into the development aspects of IT, or worse still the strategic ones. This is an example of the latter, where the book is confused between operational and strategic aspects of change. The forums are littered with confused postings.

[corrected:] At no point in section 4.2, Incident Management, is determing the service ever mentioned. in fact services in general are hardly ever mentioned, other than refering to SLAs (for details see comment below).

Not even in incident categorisation or prioritisation or any activity. There is no mention of service impact analysis.

The CMS is only accessed to 'identify the CIs affected' and get 'relationships between CIs'. The Service Catalogue apparently doesn't exist.

Does a cloud computing infrastructure obviate the need for IT Service Management systems? The IT Skeptic thinks not.


To: the ITIL qualifications/certifications/training industry

From: we the unrepresented punters paying for this circus, a.k.a. candidates

Subject: one more pissed off customer

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