Don't swim against the tide: ten alternatives to itSMF for ITIL practitioners

Learn to live with the fact that itSMF serves the ITSM industry not the practitioner community. Consider whether you also need to be a member of an another organisation committed to representing your interests and developing your profession.

Once again a discussion in the comments has become too interesting: I need to move it up here as a blog post.

We were discussing why itSMF is a stakeholder organisation, not a member one.
A reader asked

...what will it take for you to change your view? What would the itSMFI have to do to demonstrate that it is, in fact, acting in member's interests?

to which I replied

itSMF - as i understand/perceive it - current does none of the following:

1) constitutionally commit to member's interests and write that into goals/objectives/vision
2) get ratification of members for rules, policy, strategy and major decisions
3) report to members in a meaningful fashion: WHAT is policy and strategy, WHY decisions are taken, HOW money is spent. Since itSMF is a not-for-profit and since members are a diverse and scattered group, i believe the simplest way to report to members is to do so publicly. I see no reason for secrecy.
4) adopt a community approach: forums, feedback, councils and consultation
5) support and create member development and certification initiatives instead of spinning them off (IoSM) or allowing them to be run by vendors unrestrained (APMG)
6) implement effective governance to restrain commercial influence on itSMF
7) speak up publicly on behalf of - as the voice of - members, even where that conflicts with itSMF's commercial interests
8) encourage members to participate e.g. publish calls for nomination publicly and far in advance instead of one month ahead to chapter heads, make the rules public, advertise

I don't believe itSMF will do these things simply because that is not the purpose of itSMF any more than representing the interests of shareholders is the purpose of Shell Oil, or representing the interests of subscribers is the purpose of National geographic. itSMF does not exist to represent members; it exists to represent ITSM. So long as we are all clear on that we won't be disappointed.

and he then said

...I agree that they all fit within the scope of what the itSMF should be...I don't see a reason why the itSMF world wide should not move towards embodying all the points you make.

Now here's my thought for today: I'm not sure I want itSMF to change to meet these "desiderata".

Readers may have noticed in my recent posts that I am accepting of the fact that itSMF represents ITSM not members. I feel more comfortable about many itSMF behaviours as a result. It is like coming to terms one day with the fact that your boss is a complete asshole (not - I hasten to add - my current situation but one I have known several times in the past). Once you accept the fact and stop getting mad about it, things get simpler. I once asked my friend Alan what it was like reporting directly to one of the most horrid bosses I've ever known. "The easiest boss I ever had" he replied. "I always knew what to expect. Whatever happened, I knew Abram wasn't going to like it".

Likewise, if you know itSMF is always going to act to further the interests of the ITIL industry not those of it's paying members (unless they happen to coincide) then you won't be disappointed or upset.

Promoting ITIL is a good thing (depsite my best efforts it still pays my family's bills). Perhaps we should leave itSMF to do what it does best, and look to some other organisation to represent, develop and accredit ITSM practitioners as a community.

There are any number of candidates in the wings:

  1. ISACA: Information Systems Audit and Control Association A nice organisation I am enjoying being a member of
  2. ITIMA: IT Infrastructure Management Association A bit too CA-centric for my tastes but at least committed to the professional Gone. Now the RCCSP Professional Education Alliance
  3. SM-I: Service Management Institute Renegade and born of a consulting vendor, but committed to presenting an alternative
  4. HDI: HelpDesk Institute Been around for ever and fading a bit. If only they'd rebrand from "helpdesk"
  5. IOSM: Institute of IT Service Management/ICSM: Institute of Certified Service Managers There to do exactly what we want but not getting far
  6. Society for Information Management
  7. Association for Information Technology Professionals
  8. IEEE A bit left-field for ITSM but as professional as all get out
  9. A notable peer (and sometimes competitor) of IEEE, is Association for Computing Machinery
  10. Even AFSMI: Association For Services Management International Given that they have been around for 30 years (apparently) it is fair to say that they have grown slowly. There is a good list of international chapters, so it's not just some guy in a garage. But the Board details are not there. the only major sponsor is Oracle. the emphasis seems to be heavily on helpdesk. And they've apparently never heard of ITIL.

Thanks to Charles Betz for some of this list


Correction on Service Management Institute


This is a great list. I enjoyed viewing the various sites.

The correct URL for the Service Management Institute is:

The one you have published here doesn't work correctly.


What's in a name?

I spent some time considering what's in a name, and came to the conclusion that the core should be "Information Services." If I take the position that any organization I want representing me should have a modern name that expresses exactly where the industry is going, none of them fit.

Charles T. Betz

Been reading Forrester?

Forrester published the same sort of thinking (with different conclusions) a couple of times last year as part of their BT agenda. Industry has, so far, shown little interest. Gartner, I recall, beat the same drum during 2002 or so, to the same effect.


That's an interesting list, I hadn't heard of some of the organisations. I suppose that that might say something about them - but then again, it might just be my ignorance.

You criticised me a while back for listing the ISM (or IoSM) as a success of the itSMF. You list the ISM as an 'alternative' to the itSMF. The brochure on the ISM site:

explains the benefits provided by the two organisations and makes it pretty clear that they view each other as complimentary, not competitive. I certainly find it valuable to be a member of the itSMF and a fellow of the ISM. I think that subscribing to its code of conduct is something that would benefit all Service Management practitioners.
I have been a supporter of the ISM since its inception and also wish that it would grow faster and be taken up in more parts of the world - something that the itSMF could well work to do. Part of the difficulty in growing the ISM is its very nature. It has to have strict and carefully enforced conditions for membership to be credible as a professional body, and these do limit its growth to those who are properly qualified and have adequate relevant experience.

I have, in the past, had the misfortune to work for a couple of bad (and predictable) managers. I certainly didn't find that knowing that made the situation better and, even with them, I still tried to help them do a better job. I'm not a fatalist, but an optimist, and, though I'm sceptical, I'm not a pessimist or a cynic - that's probably why I want things to improve where they can.

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