ITSM open content

Right now the ITSM community seems to be abuzz with suggestions for open contribution repositories for ITSM knowledge and discussion. As one who has had a few cracks at this, let me assure you that if you build it, they won't come.
[Updated: let's compile a list of sites, see below]
The ITSM road is littered with the rusting wrecks of open ITSM bodies of knowledge (BOKs). Open ITIL, the ITIL Wiki, the ITIL Open Wiki, the ITIL Process Wiki, the People's Liberation Front of Judea...

If open ITSM content was going to spontaneously happen, why isn't it on Wikipedia already? What better vehicle could there be? And yet the current entry is truly awful. Likewise if we could set ITIL free simply by rewriting it in the public domain why go past Wikipedia for that?

And if there is such a crying need for a forum to discuss ITSM, how come all the existing forums are empty echo chambers like abandoned factories?

It's that same old IT geek predilection for solving non-technical problems with technical solutions. The ITSM world has communication problems, timeliness problems, culture problems, political problems, power problems. New tools are not the answer. Please stop building wikis and forums and social channels and whizzy apps. 99.9% of the million-plus ITSM practitioners don't even notice and if they did they wouldn't be bothered and wouldn't have time to try to get something new off the ground.

I don't even think open content BOKs work anyway. Any BOK needs a governing body to moderate, govern and quality-control. Open BOKs are either the self-expressive product of an individual or they turn to mush. To be successful a BOK needs a large credible resourced organisation behind it, which is why I'm backing COBIT5 as the next wave of IT content at this point.

Want to contribute to open ITSM content? take your pick... (In German and provocatively called "Best Management Practice") (from ISACA! and empty, just waiting for some keen contributors) (ruins of the ITIL Open Guide, which moved to...) (now gone?)

Not enough potential open ITSM content sites for you? Google on, I bet you can find more...

Clearly the ITSM world's problem is not a shortage of open content sites. Maybe it is a shortage of community forums? Um... no. We may compile that list another day


Thing wrong with ITIL V3

Yes, but no. Making a free and open source like / open community based competitor to ITIL V3 from an alternative community may indeed not be the right way to get things started. You do prove your point. Thank you for that.

Extending another proprietary framework like Cobit towards an alternative for operational ITSM practices may indeed be one potential evolution. Some have tried to work from ISO 20000 and extending this to there real-life experience. But it seems to mee that these top-down alternatives will at some point come to the same limitations. Inherently, exchanging best practices and "good advice" requires a community and some way to structure and exchange experiences and personal research. I have posted my thoughts for coming to this point in a text about "Ten things that are wrong with ITIL for the world of today" (

ITSMf sounds like a viable vehicle for that, but I have little insight in the real bottom-up content improvement that is coming from the various ITSMf chapters today. Is it only my perception that their core value today is in enabling networking and supporting commercial practices around ITSM in the local community? Which is good, but only part of the puzzle.

Good analysis

A good list of ITIL's problems, worth reading.

My conclusion is that there will not be another ITIL World is moving on and the rigid IT service factory is becoming as relevant as other old factories in our neighborhood. Business and IT have become intertwined and different businesses will have different models.

At some point people must realize that they have already gained all the the benefits ITIL can offer and there is no more to come. The industry of vendors, trainers, consultants and printers will try to keep the flame high as long as possible. Actually many people have already seen the light. With some of my customers it is HR who is the main driver for ITIL training. HR wants to see certifications and they use the number of certificates as a measure of their success. Silly but true.


How about ITSMF?

ITSMF NL calls itself "A Best Practice Community"

ITSMF International lists the following statement on their website:
"... This not-for-profit organisation is a prominent player in the on-going development and promotion of IT Service Management "best practice", standards and qualifications and has been since 1991, when the UK Chapter started as the foundation Chapter. ..."

I think you need ITSMF to drive such an effort. But what's their position (officially) in the Castle ITIL / Free ITIL movement?

An example of this in other industries

PMP, GAAP, Education, supply chain. Do any of these get it right?

I would think that if ITIL were being written by some younger generation 15 years from now, it would be a grander collaboration of more people with less "it depends" which may be the element of "good practices" that kills our ability to collaborate on this topic in a meaningful way.

I've had some great interactions with people at conferences and in person and through e-mail, but I never ever see those people contributing to these content portals.

And I've started a couple of these myself for my own use and even those have died.

I have seen some good stuff on Quora, but still some bad too.

I really want this to work, can someone please get like 2 million dollars around to incentivize all of us to contribute to a new real Service Management good practices that actually work and make sense and has a larger input from the communities?

Even internal attempts fail

Even when organisations try and build internal ITSM wikis and Sharepoint sites there seems to be a high failure rate, especially if you measure success by how much the sites are used by any one other than their creators. May be, as with the CMDB, that is where we go wrong: we don't design with the end audience in mind.

To pick up on a couple of points made by Kaimar and Matt -

I think there is something in Kaimar's analysis of the consultancy market, but perhaps it is truer to say that half the consultants out there are telling you that they are demystifying ITIL when what they are really doing is transferring your dependency away from ITIL towards their take on ITSM, or else "demystifying" it by leaving out all the difficult bits that actually deliver the long term value*

Matt's take on what ITIL would be like if it was developed in the future by a younger generation is interesting, but I suspect not radical enough. I don't think those under the age of twenty five today would bother with building a single static monolithic body of knowledge. The Wiki and the Sharepoint site are not pointers to the future but the last relics of the past. Those of us of a certain age, around that of the typical Twitter user, can't help but see new solutions in terms of old paradigms. Yes Matt, even you are old in the eyes of my kids.

And perhaps that is another element that comes into play - ITSM is not, inherently, a young person's bag. It will never be in the hands of the young, only the next generation of people like us,

*Since this is Rob's site I should probably rephrase that as "allegedly potentially deliver long term value"
James Finister

My take

Ouch, I suppose I'm more and more guilty of leading people towards my take on ITSM. On the other hand I see (or think I see) continuous improvement in general understanding of ITSM issues.

As investment literature warns us "past performance is no guarantee of future results", this holds true also the other way. Past failures do not guarantee that all future attempts fail. It is possible that some group will come up with so good model that it will catch fire. Fads spread very quickly, it did not take long when ITIL finally took hold in USA. One year all consultants were talking ITIL and a year later all old help desk software was magically transformed in to ITIL compliant ITSM systems and everybody was talking ITIL. I don't think anything actually changed but the breakthrough was fast. Current tools like Twitter or Facebook might make a new breakthrough even faster.

There seems to be growing pressure building for a new solution. More and more people seem to be starting to doubt ITIL. Some of those people taking the endless classes towards Grand Master of ITIL must see through the game.

I think the main lesson learned from ITIL V3 is that one should not build a complex training certification system based on an evolving system; or am I too optimistic?


No, I'm Spartacus


I think most of us are guilty of it to some degree.

I suspect there will indeed be a future model that catches fire, but that doesn't mean it will arise directly from the still warm ashes of ITIL.

I remain of the view that there is nothing inherently wrong with ITIL, we've just done a bad job in recent years of focusing on the needs of the practitioner. I would like to think that in the ISO/IEC 20000 world we've done a better job of that. I hope that remains the case.

James Finister

Nothing inherently wrong execpt

- describes processes that are not processes
- describes service lifecycle management without sales & customer interface
- does not have a coherent description of a customer service process

Just to mention a few "small" problems which version 3.1 will not address. I do agree that ISO 20000 is a much better job. Still, a new model would do best to shake off all connections to ITIL and start with a new glossary.


ISO 20000 is so much better

ISO 20000 is so much better. It
- describes processes that are not processes (all the same ones as ITIL V2 and none(?) of the new V3 ones)
- doesn't describe a service lifecycle at all (unless you count PDCA as a "lifecycle")
- is without sales & customer interface (oh alright there's a token Business Relationship Mgmt which is still very inside-out)
- does not have a coherent description of a customer service process

And it is only requirements

ISO20k strength and weakness is that it contains just requirements. The strength lies in that it is quite easy to fulfill "process" requirements without having the process. The weakness is that one needs some guidance, I suppose the standard is not easy to understand without a good background in the subject but then you can choose your source, ISO 20k does not say you need to follow ITIL.

Ok ok, you got me on that

Yes, it does inherit all ITIL's faults (V2 but not V3) but
- the business relationship mgmt is there and
- there are also management coordination and management responsibilities

Let's say it is a little better. Is that better?

Shame on me. This is harder than it looks.

I get on my soap box everytime I teach bashing how Castle ITIL hasn't supported the collaborative knowledge shring on the how you do ITIL. In reading thru this may e it isnt as much their total fault as I attribute.

I've visited most of the sites above and either turned my nose up because they weren't good enough or left because I was annoyed at what it took to get the I to (thanks Dancy, I now will always now when I'm the product...).

Since the castle ITIL led sharing model is broken and rogue wikis and repositories can't keep up enough or current content, maybe we need to now brainstorm on different models.

What if all the tool vendors were regulated to give the process world notice and make them fund (@$2mill/year) this central site. Solid backing. Big names, pr engines and funds to make it fly. Microsoft MOF ( and SNCs wiki (above linked) are food examples of pieces of this puzzle. Add in altruistic support from Pink and Ian and Skep and others (via regulation by shame, pleading, public humiliation) and we could get this to fly.

Setting something up outside the walls of the castle and led by those in the community that get it and should get it (coerced cooperation) and with a bit of funding, this could fly. It just can't be grassroots).

Sorry for the spelling. Small keyboard

Hopefully it wasn't totally incoherent. :). One follow on thought. Doesn't this effort really fall right in the middle of what the ITSMf is built and chartered to do? What HDI is built to do?

a larger input from the communities

COBIT 5 was supposed to have been more collaborative though I've not seen much evidence of that yet.

Maybe something like this?

List of open ITSM content sites

I compiled a list of just some of the open ITSM content sites. See above.

giving away the livelihood

ITIL is not too complex, but complex enough to generate hundreds and thousands of ITIL/ITSM consultants who chew and too often digest it for their customers. There are perhaps two main streams of ITIL consulting - the one that demystifies it and the one that helps to apply it. The first would not benefit from ITIL being open/free. If the complexity disappeared, it would mean their livelihood is taken away - and my experience says that would worry more than a half of the total 'ITIL consultant population'. Far more than half. Add the whole ITIL training business to the equation and its not a surprise the interest in 'Free ITIL' is so weak.

Free ITIL isn't open ITIL

Also, a point of clarification. I think Free ITIL is something else. If OGC were to loosen the copyright and trademark stranglehold on their body of work, it would be of great benefit to ITIL and to the world. But that's not the same thing as open content. ITIL is as closed as a BOK can be, and still would be even if it were set free. Free ITIL is about consumption not contribution.

altruistic streak

Good point. I think there is a strong element of protecting the income stream.

In addition, one of the few rewards for contributing is prestige. it pays to get your name on an ITIL book or a COBIT book. It doesn't pay to get your name on some wiki nobody has ever heard of, which stands a 90% chance of dying the death of all those that came before it.

On the other hand, there is clearly an altruistic streak in the industry too: lots of people seem to genuinely want to help, to share, to see others improve. But they have to eat too: few have the spare time and energy to contribute to an unpaid effort. Especially an obscure new effort. A few will leap in, then most will fall away as they see the project bog down from lack of resources, momentum, and uptake.

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