ITIL is not alone

The ITSM body of knowledge is fragmenting. ITIL is still the 600-pound gorilla, but it is less lonely, for a number of reasons.

We were discussing comparisons between open content and open source software. Aale lamented that others are doing their own improved versions of ITIL. Andrew had said that "OSS projects are forked all the time" and similar things happen with content. I can think of several reasons for "improved" versions of ITIL:
1) it can be done "better": more practical, more theoretical, more specialist, more general, simpler, deeper, broader, more focused, more open, more controlled...
2) political: ITIL has become a commercialised monopoly and it most definitely is NOT open any more, if it ever was. Blows Against The Empire again, with all the same acceptance problems
3) alienation: Castle ITIL does not really embrace dissent or diversity. If you are not in the club... Mind you, you can bust or buy your way in, as Version 3 showed, something I've not discussed to date.
4) power struggles: trying to break ITIL's grip or cut a slice of the pie
5) growth: once the market gets big enough there is room for more than one
6) diversity: as the community grow and matures, opportunities open up for niche versions or differently slanted versions. It is no longer one size fits all

You can play the match up game for yourself between these motivations and the many other ITSM Bodies of Knowledge out there: COBIT, MOF, ISO20000, USMBOK, FITS, ISM, eSCM, CMMI-SM...

It was never going to stay one happy family for ever.



CobiT has real value. But not at the level of detail of some of the others you mention.

We tend to use USMBOK the most. We like it a lot. With reference to ITIL.

The organization of USMBOK is somewhat easier to follow than ITIL.

We don't take an "implement ITIL" approach. We take a business improvement approach referencing standards.

And, at least in the U.S., USMBOK it is useful because it explicitly uses already defined standards for quality, etc. This helps quite a bit with explaining the process to the business when seeking funds because the relation to already established standards increases credibility.

The business staff are sometimes skeptical (couldn't resist) of the all-IT, all the time British ITIL.

Cary King
Minerva Enterprises
Managing Partner

Hello ISACA, where's the book?

USMBOK is powerful in that it is well organised, consistent, pretty much complete and comprehensive, and not IT specific. It is not explicitly mapped to ITIL which undermines the value gained from ITIL being a common language. Not that that will matter to those heartily sick of ITIL :) And of course it is not a community-agreed BOK - it is one very smart man's BOK.

COBIT is detailed enough for me most times. COBIT CONTROL PRACTICES is an awesomely concise source of guidance. I think it is ITIL with all the chat boiled out. When ITIL first came out there was no internet to put flesh on the bones. Also if ITGI/ISACA ever publish the COBIT Usage Guide for Service Managers it will take that guidance to a deeper level.

Hello ISACA, where's the book????? 1Q09 is over in three days. You are not going to slip it ANOTHER quarter are you?

Complementary and not exclusive

Hi folks!

A few years ago, I read an article in the ServiceTalk magazine about the Actor Network Theory and its applicability in the ITSM projects. I liked it and I've kept those ideas in my mind in every "customer interaction" (I hate to talk about "ITIL Implementation Projects") I've done.

As we can see in the previous replies, there are many frameworks, standards, recommendations and "best-practice sets", but those are *never* fully applicable to you just because they have been written by somebody who didn't know *your* company and *your* complexity. So they wrote generalistic books that can be applied everywhere (the most applicability, the higher probability to expand it as a "commynuty-agreed BOK" it is)

So whenever I go to a customer I use all the weapons I have to kill the problem (and I get more and more weapons as I continue reading and learning things like ITIL V3, COBIT, CMMI-SVC, eSCM, IT-Skeptic blogs, etc).

One of the later additions to my weapon set has been the USMBOK. As you said, Skeptic, it is a very smart man BOK, that has used and aggregated many knowledge sources in a single BOK.

At the beginning, 20 years ago, ITIL was exactly the same... anything except a "community-agreed BOK", but the Actor Network Theory has made possible that it is now considered a "de-facto" standard.

So USMBOK is something very important in this days: it is fresh, it has a view from the customer interaction point of view, it is universal (from the point of view that it is not only focused on IT Services) and that can help us to solve problems in the frontier: just in the customer <--> IT relationship, and even can posicionate IT in a level where can help the business to solve other Services related situations all arround the company.

(Haven't you ever received a question about if it is possible to use ITIL outside of IT, like in the Shared Services areas?)

So I think that USMBOK is going to be a strong BOK is we, as actors in the network, contribute to spread the voice, and if Mr Clayton is able to create a community arround it that can contribute, agree and grow the BOK.

Anyway, returning to the main subject of the thread, I'm really happy that ITIL is not alone, because I need a huge amount of different weapons to fight against a hugh amount of very different problems in real life, and usually I build those weapons combining different standards, knowledge sources from different areas (of course, using other knowledge that does not come from the IT arena) and my own experience that is growing and growing day by day thanks to your, fellows, and thanks to my customers.

Antonio Valle
G2, Gobierno y Gestión de TI

Continued commitment to a community led BOK

I'm flattered by the support shown by those who have ventured away from the 'safe haven' of ITIL to consider including the USMBOK. The USMBOK is focused on offering the common language Skep touched upon - common to all service providers - not just IT. There are so many good concepts and better practices 'out there' in the business and customer realm.

As for community versus one man band - we have to start somewhere and I feel I am doing nothing too different from ITIL. As far as I know the latest version was far from consensus driven. I remain committed to helping establish a BOK that is universally applicable to any service industry, including IT, and open to all concepts that might help manage service.

You can be assured of my commitment to a 'community-led' version. Watch out for news on that very, very soon. In the meantime, remember, if you have a copy and comments or questions, or just want help on a service management matter, my open support site is available to one and all...

free service management expert advice desk

I think a more interssting link on Ian's service desk is here: it's free. I'm assuming it may not always be that way, so get in now and access Ian's knowledge and experience for free, and help him build his question-base.

All those people who ask questions on some of the more horrible newbie-ridden forums would do much better to Ask Ian.

As for USMBOK, I refer to it all the time. The jury is out on whether it will get the critical mass, as Antonio describes. I really hope it does as it is a bloody good framework - I just wish it leveraged off ITIL more to help that process along.

Mapping ITIL V3 to USMBOK

Yup - support is "free" for one reason - I have a knowledge base of advice behind the scenses - currently offline - that relies upon keywords to match a question. I need to tune the matching - no better way than to let folks ask questions using their natural language.

As for the USMBOK leveraging off of ITIL - I'll provide a simple description of how ITIL maps to various areas of the USMBOK. Unfortunately any mapping will have to be accompanied by a bit of an assessment as ITIL V3 may have a comparable practice but in many cases punches well below its weight. For example, it has problem management, but that practice area lacks any discussion on how to define a problem, how to associate the stakeholder view of impact, the fundamental steps of cause analysis (it misses control barrier analysis completely), and how to translate a problem into an opportunity for improvement. It still bemuses me as to why ITIL left problem management in Service Operations instead of placing in Continual Service Improvement - where I feel it belongs...

In the end its all down to value derived by those who use these references - does it help folks get their job done more easily, consistently and efficiently. Those who experience the USMBOK and its classes say how much it helped them decipher what ITIL is trying to say. My mantra is 'help protect an investment in ITIL'.

More on that mapping shortly.


The USMBOK should be on every desk. It is well organized and easy to follow. It is not specifically about IT service management, but covers the area of service management in general. Recommend anyone at any level entering the service management journey get this BOK. We have used it with almost all of our service management tasks. Although we embarked upon ITIL some years ago, the USMBOK has shed a different light on our vision, goals, and approach.

Ron Lester

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