Governance directives as input to ITIL

Being a simple soul with only a limited grasp of ITIL, sometimes I'm sure I've missed something obvious. Like when I went looking in the Service Strategy book to find where the overall business plan or organisational strategy informs the service strategy. If IT is your business, if you are an IT service provider company, then I can see SS working. But for an internal service provider, for an IT department, SS reads as if service strategy is developed in isolation from the rest of the organisation, as if we treat the rest of the organisation as a remote customer of services instead of as the same team, from whom we take direction. At what point in SS do we ask the Board? At what point does the corporate executive inject policy? Where do we align with the business strategy? Or did I miss something?


A new poll?

I think ITSM practitioners can be split in four groups concerning the quality and usefulness of ITIL V3
a) it is great (Castle Itil)
b) it is flawed but good (You)
c) it is flawed and bad (me)
d) all this process stuff is nonsense (the angry Visitor)

I have considered being in a smalll minority in group c) but I wonder has there been movement to that direction? It looks like we all have found new and deeper flaws and I suppose there must be somewhere a limit. In some sense I'm starting to feel that criticizing ITIL is flogging a dead horse.

This might be an interesting new poll as you have now given the "correct" answer to the current one.


good or bad

I don't like the good/bad distinction. Bad things can still be useful, like my progressively crumbling lawn mower. I see ITIL as an effective tool that keeps letting me down when bits fall off or are missing. So whether I think it good or bad depends on the last time I used it :)

ITIL is fine as a framework

Gents - There really is no "one single answer" on how to run your IT organization - and in fact all the references(PMBOk, etc) you've made ther are holes.

In my experience ITIL is a great way to frame discussions associated with how to run your organization. There are very few instances of what happens in an IT org that ITIL hasn't somewhat addressed or at least helped defined where it fits in the IT org and Service Lifecycle.

Your discussion that it doesn't take into account the business organization I feel is weak - the tie back to the business is the Serivce Unit - and then the entire Service Design booklet is about getting the Service Reqs of the business to derive the correct IT services to deliver.

Aale - A few direct quotes regarding no cust rel mgmt and sales, etc...

"In many organizations BRMs are known as Account Managers, Business Representatives, and Sales Managers. Internal IT Service Providers need this role to develop and be responsive to their internal market" "An outcome-based definition of services ensures that managers plan and execute all aspects of service management entirely from the perspective of what is valuable to the customer. Such an approach ensures that services not only create value for customers but also capture value for the service provider. SS pg 67

I am in favor of ITIL as a framework - with a first level process mapping of how for many areas, as well as templates, etc..

Is it alone what one should use to drive IT - no!

a text accessible to any IT-literate person

ITIL is a useful framework. Is it perfect? No. is it above criticism? no. Does it have holes that one wouldn't expect from a "first level framework"? yes. Is it unbalanced in how it treats various areas? Yes.

Just to take your example of customer relations, BRMs are indeed mentioned. Do we get the same level of guidance to set up a BRM function as we do to set up a service desk? Do we see BRMs' roles and participation in processes described to the same level as service desk? Not even close. Is service desk more important to support than BRMs? I don't think so.

Your comment that ITIL is used "to frame discussions" implies to me you come from the school that sees ITIL as the obtuse text to be interpreted by the learned priesthood. Service management isn't rocket science or brain surgery. We should be able to come up with a text accessible to any IT-literate person that describes the good or best or at least generally accepted way to do every activity in IT from a service management perspective, without recourse to expensive consultants to interpret the holy book for us, and the book should be safe in the hands of that IT-literate person without leading them down paths that don't even exist (CMS, blog post coming). If there is debate over multiple options then lay out the options and say so. A dozen authors, hundreds of contributors with their names on the fly-leaf, a year's work: if you wrote a text on brain surgery wirth that kind of effort behind it, I'd have a crack at it with my craft tools.

having just written and delivered a presentation to the local ISACA chapter on "governing ITIL", I can say that ITIL appears to be written on the assumption that governors don't exist and customers work for someone else. In other words it is still written from the good old-fashioned perspective of IT as a remote department (which, incdentally, translates more easily into IT as a service provider than into IT as a part of the business). Yes even Service Strategy.

A guide is a guide...

I believe ITIL and other frameworks, guides etc... are not intended for someone just stumbling into the IT profession - so can't agree we should have a "single authorative source" on how to run-ITSM. The very nature of frameworks and guides is to set up a perspective from which each individual org/person can then use to address their particular issues.

Re: ITIL is unblanced - I disagree it's focus is on the role of Service Desk versus the role of BRM - the entire concept that we itnegrate our IT offerings with the Business Unit is a key role/function of the BRM and they manage the entire Service Design for their selected BU orgs - reuslting in SDP etc... In fact ITIL v3 broadened it's scope greatly and treats the "non-IT" roles/services with more vigor than what we found it V2.

Your implication that I am from the priesthood is not far off - I have had 25 years of experience in IT - started as a hands-on "doer" of IT - rose to the CIO, then spent some time consulting and now I'm heading back into "working for the man" again as I am ready to get out of advising and ready to own my dept.

Lost with a lousy guide

A key issue in ITSM is Business - IT alignment. This is an area which would need better and deeper guidance. Covering Business Relationship Management with one sentence and one box in a figure does not help anyone. While I disagree with Rob on the value of V3 I admit that even I do check what the books say on certain subjects. On this occasion I was preparing a workshop on customer and business relationship management and I searched the books for the term with meagre and even funny results.

V3 has indeed broadened its scope far too wide. The Strategy book is wide off the mark. It may make sense for the independent IT service company but most of the practitioners represent internal IT service providers. One CIO commented my blog on IT strategy by telling that his organization has expressly forbidden low level strategies. If IT has time to be writing their own strategies, they have too much resources. A company has one strategy and the CIO needs to figure out what is the best way to support that strategy.


LUCK is the key anyways!

Read the Skeps latest blog entry - ( as I stated earlier ITIL is a guide and don't worry LUCK is the real answer.

Misunderstood strategy

Yep. For this reason I have considered the whole book as a waste of time for most if not all. There was some discussion of it earlier, see

The Accenture book is based on the independeednt service provider model but I think there is a catch there too. Running an IT Service company is general business management. Within that company there are people who run the IT service. These people do not run the business.


ITIL in a void. Is there anybody out there?

it feels to me like Service Strategy is ITSM's strategy for IT (not the business's) and Continual Service Improvement is ITSM's governance of IT (not the governors'). Nothing has an external perspective: ITIL feels like it is written in a void:

  • the customer and user get no advice given to them
  • the business gets mentioned as a remote abstract entity. passing references to strategy, plans and policy, but no specific points where governors are consulted, few explicit use of external policies (info security is one)...
  • totally ignores other frameworks (token references don't count): PMBOK, PRINCE2, COBIT,Val IT, ISO20000, ISO9000, ISO27001, CMMI, SPICE...
  • no external mechanisms provided to measure ITIL: assessment, audit, ROI, risk...

Can you think of more examples?

Sometimes I feel like ITIL is so up itself only the shoes show

A couple

I have been pondering the same thing. Somehow the Service Lifecycle does not need customers.

* There is no customer relationship management
* There is no sales


Service Strategy vrs Marketing Management

Anyone interested in finding the good, bad and ugly in the Service Strategy book should go invest in a proven Marketing Reference, such as Marketing Management by Kotler and compare theory with proven best practice.

You need only compare the table of contents....

Just a few clues (and as an ex Product Manager trained and certified by by Pragmatic Marketing), Strategic Planning is a sub-activity of Product Marketing. Market Research and Development, Brand Management, Prospecting, and Market Segmentation are vital to success.... a product is not a service, a service is a type of product - period. Check the goods-service continuum. Target prospect profiles are associated with marketing programs and qualification criteria.... and none if any of this has much to do with a traditional IT organization bound by internal funding... and a captive customer community....

When will IT folks stop reinventing and renaming things that are established by the business and other professions...

Marketing Mindset

Liked this post Ian, I recently blabbered on about Minding the Gap and the search for a Marketing Mindset.....issues that continue to dog IT and the quest for ITSM excellence. Personally, I like the Service Strategy book quite a bit. While I wouldn't be surprised to find out it's not all original thought, I'm not sure I really care.

One thing seems clear to me though. As much as we talk about 'Aligning' IT with the business, I don't see the business involved in ITSM adoption programs very much (if at all). A fundamental problem.

IT continues to have a manufacturing mindset (as described in the Good Book) instead of a marketing mindset, and could use some folks from marketing perhaps...

but what really bothers me is how much we (IT) beat ourselves up over this. In many cases we are drowning trying to keep the lights on in the face of increasing complexity and accelerated change, yet we (IT) seem to be responsible for documenting business processes as well. Aren't business processes owned by the business?

If we are to design "from the top down" before we implement "from the bottom up", then everyone knows we must start with key business process definitions; but I continue to see technical service catalogs being built...

If the business wants IT to be aligned with it, then they should document their business processes in a way IT can map the technology to them. (and stay focused on your customer, not 'the system') Help IT get a marketing mindset. IT understands the need to accelerate time-to-market and to do more with less, but don't ask IT to do this and document your business processes as well.

Perhaps the business is hesitant due to savage journeys with BPM suites....kinda like the CMDB madness. Take the guidance for what it is, but don't be blinded by the light.

In any case, I think the business needs to pony up to their end of the bargain; you'll never achieve a marketing mindset unless they do.

John M. Worthington
MyServiceMonitor, LLC

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