An Alternative to ITIL

I've never seen ITSMBOK™ but readers might like to check out this webinar to learn more about a 550 page book that seems to be an alternative set of guidance (and an alternative organisation ITSMI™ and certification CSMP™). Be quick it is Thursday May 17th.


Update on USMBOK

The 'alternative to ITIL' is available in a new form and publication since late 2007 - 'Guide to Universal Service Management Body of Knowledge (USMBOK)'. In this new book I have taken a non-IT perspective found in product management circles to describe both the elements of a service management system and supporting service provider organizational model. Readers of this blog can get it half price, by entering the promotion code 'GUIDE75', valid through January 31st 2010.

The USMBOK is not so much an alternate set of guidance as a completely different take on service management, preferring to use the proven methods that surround us as used by the service industry at large. The book does not discuss IT specific challenges, nor does it use IT bound language or concepts.

Redo of earlier Walkthrough ITSMBOK!!

Hi everyone

Due to popular demand there will be a repeat, in refreshed form, of the walkthrough the 'Guide to the Service Management Body of Knowledge for IT professionals (ITSMBOK) - 2nd Edition'. The webinar, which is free to attend (except for the phone charges), will also discuss the scope of the Service Management Qualification Scheme (SMQS), recently recognized by the American National Standards Institute, and the planned Research Symposium in Cancun Mexico next February, where all the above will be workshopped to develop new requirements.

If you have interest in getting the real story on what the Service Management Institute is, and what these items are all about, please register. I apologize in advance to Rob and this Blog for any reduction it might cause in misinformed claims...

Register here

This webinar will not be podcast. It will be repeated again within two weeks with another update.


Ian Clayton

Why do they also do ITIL

Not sure how a private company, with no indication that other parties have input to their recommendations, can be any more open than the OGC process. Yes, ITIL v3 has been written behind closed doors, but was the ITSMBOK approach any different?

It's also not clear to me how a company that places ITIL at the heart of their business can also claim to have an alternative - a conflict of interest surely in terms of providing unbiased advice? My impression is that they want the luxury of being able to criticise competitors who promote ITIL, while still providing such services themselves. Very confusing in any case.

Frankly, a private services company calling itself an institute doesn't strike me as a company that could be trusted to be straight with you. It's also rather disingenuos to use ITSMBOK, a blatant reference to PMBOK, and presumably chosen to add perceived respectability for the unwary.

I'm sure they know a lot about IT management, and that ITIL has flaws is both well known and inevitable, but whether they believe in being honest businessmen I wonder.

Russia claims North Pole but who has Lean Service Management?

Do you notice how days after a discussion of Lean Service Management on this website, this "institute" puts up a page and claims the phrase with two tiny letters "TM"?!! That's like Russia claiming the North Pole! LOL :-)

Well at least this "institute" seems progressive compared to some other ITIL training providers I have seen. They are stuck in the past. I'd be very interested in this webinar from ITSMI.

Its SM-I not ITSMI

Sorry to have confused everyone here - and it is our fault and not intentional. The webinar is hosted by the Service Management Institute (SM-I), a non-profit with open governance and a mission to help build a professional-recognized service management body of knowledge and related service management qualification scheme based upon International standards. Both are in now place and ready for scrutiny by fellow professionals.

The ITSMI is a founding partner and a commercial company - providing consulting and education services around all things ITSM and ITIL. SM-I manages the SMBOK and SMQS with practitioners heading each council. It does not train or consult. It might sell t-shirts and cups soon!

ITSMI also co-founded itSMF USA. It is something we can't help doing in pursuit of a bit of an idealistic goal of helping fellow professionals define and manage their own profession..... any volunteers?

I don't like the cows and the milk but here is some cheese

(Just don't ask where the milk came from) :-)

I have noticed that certain people have been highly critical of ITIL v3 and especially the Service Strategy book for being academic. And then you see this on their website:

Guess which book of ITIL they might have got a cue from? LOL :-)

They have also seemed to improvised on a couple of other items. But it is all good!! Especially if they have used simpler language to "process the cheese" and re-sell it. ITIL after all is public domain even if you have to pay for the books after taking a second mortgage.

public domain

From Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary: ’If something such as a book, song, computer program, etc. is in the public domain, no one has the right to control its use and anyone may use it without charge.’

The result of the CAR project has clearly placed ITIL outside of the public domain - which is not a problem, just a fact.

A quote from the soon to be released upgrade of "IT Service Management - An Introduction":

ITIL, although widely used, was actually never in the public domain, but there were few restrictions on its use in practice. This has been acknowledged as one of the main reasons for ITIL's wide acceptance. With the transfer of the management, publication, and qualifications of ITIL to the APM Group (for qualifications) and TSO (for publications), a significant shift in the market has occurred.

The interesting question will be: how will the market respond to this? It's obvious - like with any other organizational change - that this causes an emotional response. But when the emotion is gone, and people have returned to their regular business, will this still have an effect? Or will 'users' simply order 'ITIL' without any interest in the version denominator? And if this shows to be quite different from what previously was known as 'ITIL', will they not care and just go with the wind?
It will be most interesting to see where this market stands in half a year.

ITIL may never have been public domain in fact but it was in spi

ITIL may never have been public domain in fact but it was in spirit, as Antonio Valle Salas's Mystery of the 1.1.1 Deleted suggests.

In the original edition of ITIL V2's Service Support copyright 2000, which I have a copy of, there is the following text:

1.1.1 Public domain framework
From the beginning, ITIL has been publicly available. This means that any organisation can use the framework described by OGC in its numerous books. Because of this, the IT Infrastructure Library guidance has been used by such a disparate range of organisations, local and central government, energy, public utilities, retail, finance, and manufacturing. Very large organisations, very small organisations and everything in between have implemented ITIL processes.

Ah, not quite.

(You gotta love class-B definitions and the trouble they cause. Simplicity, it turns out, is rarely simple.)

A work is said to be in the public domain if there are no laws which restrict its use by the public at large. Specifically, the underlying idea in the creation of a work generally cannot be the subject of copyright law. This is called the “idea-expression dichotomy.”

The salient feature here is to prevent giving a producer a competitive advantage which is not related entirely to its function as a brand identifier. The rationale is that product markets would not be truly competitive if new entrants were not able to make product with a feature that consumers demand.

For example, mathematical formulae is generally part of the public domain, to the extent that their expression in the form of software is not covered by copyright or patent. Software containing algorithms, on the other hand, can be subject to patent.

The ideas of Plato are public domain. Translations are not.

So while the ITIL brand, diagrams, bullet lists, licensing, training and other expressions are subject to Crown Copyright, the underlying ideas are generally not.

Please check your sources before casting a stone...

Hi there

I am happy to respond to yet another comment from this same anonimous person on another blog about the above mentioned link. Firstly - its an old concept that was used to train us as consultants with respect to customer and service provider relationships and contracts. It is actually better known as the 'AGENCY-PRINCIPAL PROBLEM', not theory as seen in the ITIL Service Strategy book. The key point of the problem as ORIGINALLY stated was that there will likely be a difference in the information available to the two parties in a contractual transaction - known as 'asymmetric information'. A mismatch in information can be used deliberately to gain an advantage, or if accidental can lead to different expectations - and misalignment. ITIL misses this point.

We did NOT get the cue from Strategy - can you guess which book it was ORIGINALLY garnished from? Please put that on your next post instead of relying on ITIL as a definitive source. As I mentioned on my friend's Alan Nance's blog in response to your same query - there are many other items discussed in the ITSMBOK that ITIL does not address, that are required reading when forming a service management strategy, ranging from the three types of capacity, to proper service request management, four types of maintenance, and business planning, performance management and governance frameworks.

Also, the thirty eight competencies in the ITSMBOK are based upon work completed between 1972 and 1984 and published in books available from Amazon - one is widely rumored to the the basis for the early ITIL - "A Management System for the Information Business", by Edward A. Van Schaik. By the way Ed works for us.

I hope I helped clarify your comment and impressed upon fellow bloggers that ITIL stands on the shoulders of many giants - its time they were properly quoted and respected.

One last point - the ITSMBOK PREDATES ITIL V3........


First of all, the reason I am "anonymous" is I simply haven't bothered to register at this site. Second, I'm going to take your unsubstantiated claims at face value. Perhaps you inspired everybody on the ITIL v3 project. Perhaps there are demi-gods in this community. Who cares? We live today in world of blogs, vanity presses, and self-proclaimed experts with fewer checks and balances than ever. Who is to check your sources and your claims? I've seen some of your other posts on these sites. I won't say anything more.

Anyway, back to the subject matter. After reading your reply, I went back to the Service Strategy book. They don't intend to explain the Agency Theory. They are simply applying the principle to a service management organization. Whereas you have simply faithfully reproduced the Principal Agent model as many of us can verify and validate, they have applied to the context of service management. Their extension of the principle to service access points as proxies for back-end processes and infrastructure is not only fascinating but also reflect current practice and trends. Think of an airport kiosk or an IVR unit with speech recognition and artificial intelligence. I am a specialist in the area of automation and replicated capabilities. I have never thought of the agency principle. Now it seems all so obvious. It helps explain many problems, from the lack of motivation of service desk personnel, poor design of interfaces which act more as barriers than service agents, ineffective, SLAs and the counter-flow of rewards and incentives.

I haven't got gray hair from analyzing blog posts. This much I will tell you. I can read two separate pieces of "literature" and instinctively judge which one predates the other. But you are entitled to your claim. Apparently the radio was invented not my Marconi but by some Russian who few of us can name.

For old-fashioned hags like me, the idea that the same person or entity is author, editor, and publisher of a "body of knowledge" smacks to me of conflict of interest.

"Stone-caster": I call you on that

The main reason I recently dropped anonymity was my distaste for anonymous comments. If the only reason you are anonymous is that you haven't bothered to register, may I point out that on every comnment you have the option to state your name and URL without the need for registering , as many people on this same thread have done, including Ian.

Therefore I call you on that: I conclude you post anonymously because you have a reason to conceal your identity, such as a vested interest in criticising a competitor to ITIL or some other personal reason to attack.

What if?

Your assumption is that if one criticizes they must be a competitor or someone with vested interests. By that token, how must one view the various pieces of criticism all over this blog? Have you never been criticized by a customer or prospect? Well, this is your blog so I guess you are the "Decider".

if people get personal I'm going to challenge them

Fair comment. However there is rational debate of ideas, and there is aggressive or ad hominem attack, and I felt you were wandering towards the latter.

I chose to be anonymous in the past, and others choose to do so for valid reasons. Just don't say the only reason is because you can't be bothered registering.

And if people get personal I'm going to challenge them to identify themselves

Methinks you join too many dots

Thank you for continuing this fascinating discussion. It is so much easier when folks actually take the time to register and be more open about themselves. than seek comfort behind the 'Visitor' badge - perhaps you are nearer to V3 than I am? My claims or comments are at least with my name attached. Judge as you wish. I'll let my customers and my 33 years in IT speak for me when it comes to claims and achievements...

If you have reread the Strategy book to check the claim - then you will probably admit that Section 2.4.2 on P21 does not discuss anything to do with the true meaning behind the 'model', which was not so much a model as a stated 'problem'. ITIL does far too much of re-inventing and perhaps misrepresenting very valuable information as something else. If you have read the ITSMBOK - thank you for your purchase, and I hope you agree we have in most cases made every effort to state the true intent of a concept, give credit where it is due and provide links to the additional information. Nowhere do we actually claim to be the originator - more the collector!

The crux of the Agency-Principal discussion was 'asymmetric' or missing information - an incredibly simple but powerful concept. This is at the heart of any alignment task. ITIL V3 does a better job than V1 and V2 in calling out references, I just get a bit upset too when they misrepresent items - as they also did with Value Chain.... implying Value Networks are the next generation of thinking, when in fact they are both valid methods.... Again the agency-principle does not exist! It was the agency-principal problem - mismatched information.

I have to consult and teach to folks who like me, and perhaps yourself, who are long in the experience tooth and many have actually attended University where I did not. They recognize the MBA 101 concepts in Strategy, and feel a bit miffed it was not just explained as simply as it was in their day. Strategy introduces nothing new to those who have had the challenge of managing as service provider organization or outsourcer environment, in fact it is still catching up. Simpler words and more accurate references may have saved it.

As for the body of knowledge jab - I am only the lead author, I cannot, nor do I take take credit for the full contents - nor was I the editor, and it was published by Red Swan publishing. Anyway, I encourage you to check it out, login to the free Service Desk and offer corrections and critiques - it is an open conversation we offer for our fellow service management professionals.

Thank you for paying so much attention to how the SMBOK lines up against ITIL. Healthy debate.


That's funny. I agree with you. As long as the cheese does not smell too much.

On a more serious note, there is nothing wrong with ITIL taking a more academic flavour. It raises the level of discussion. My biggest worry is having people who are not challenged and motivated to think. They cost me money, so I want the most out of them. Also, if they find ITIL academic enough and intellectual, then I am less concerned about people quitting their jobs to pursue higher education. Selfish interest I know. I have people working for me who are reading the ITIL v3 books with the intent of implementing some of the guidance. The books that generated most excitement were the Service Transition and the Service Strategy book.

What began as a lunch time remark on the new stuff in v3 turned into a animated discussion. We have whiteboards in our lunch room. After about an hour it was scrawled with diagrams about concepts from the Service Transition and Service Strategy. Those are the two books my team is most excited about simply because they challenged them to think beyond what they already knew from experience and ITIL v2.

I personally like the Service Strategy book because I am brewing my own ideas about how to best serve our customers. We're trying as a unit to culturally blend and fit in with our customers who by education and experience speak a different language. The problem is they view my staff more as technicians and operators rather than professionals. My customers read The Wall Street Journal and The Economist. Most IT professionals read Computerworld and, which are nice publications but still very technical. If ITIL v3 gives my guys and girls a sharper sense for business then I am all for it. I don't care if it is academic or artistic. Besides, one man's theory is another man's practice. I have spent time at Wall Street firms. They make money on some of the most abstract and arcane theories of economics and finance, which they use for complex products like derivaties, real options, hedge funds, securities, etc. Call me a sucker, but I am always impressed when someone can make more money than others simply because they understand the fundamentals of a business and underlying principles.

B. Dayton

Interesting comments -

Interesting comments - please feel free to either listen to one of our webinars, speak with any of our customers and consider the commitment over the past 11 years that we have made to the ITSM professional community and ITIL cause.

A few corrections to your assertions. ITSMBOK is owned by a non-profit organization - not ITSMI. ITSMI licenses the BOK as an approved registered education provider and incorporates this content into our services. Does that help you understand better the ITSMBOK and its relationship to ITSMI.

ITIL is not at the heart of our business, our customers are.

We have been an institute since 1996 and co-founded itSMF USA - we predate many other 'institutes' who share our commercial intent. We understand the reference to the ITSMBOK is multi-purpose - it has been designed with PMBOK and many other BOKs in mind and with their involvement.

We do not criticize competitors who promote ITIL - we offer an independent assessment of how ITIL helps service management strategies. We are critical of competitors who promote only ITIL and suppress open collaboration, and sell credential based education without providing unsuspecting customers with full disclosure on expiration dates.

Seems like many trust us with this perspective based upon webinar attendance in the thousands and our standing in the US community.

If you have any more comments or observations regarding me or my company I would recommend you firt check your facts, and then be professional enough to voice them directly, or at leats include an email address.

This is so typical of the fearful few who are afraid of teh light and actually helping customers address thei rproblems rather than sell solutions unwittingly.

Please provide a reply email address so I can offer correction and guidance directly. By now I would have assumed you realize we prefer openness to anonimity

Thank you

Just so we are clear on this - I did not post these kind comments - the webinar was massively attended and we will repeat the webinar Tuesday May 22 at 9am PST (USA). there is no international dial-in number - sorry.


Thanks for covering my fumble


Sorry about the commercial plug - unintended.... thank you for picking up my fumble...

A good alternative

This is the best, as far as I know, of the ITIL alternatives.

And, utterly like the ITIL/itSMF cult, the ITSMI guys are purposely being open, more or less, with this Body of Knowledge.

One wonders how long it will be before the ITIL/itSMF/vendor cult will tolerate it.

It's good stuff, though.

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