ITIL is far from comprehensive

ITIL certainly does not cover all aspects of "IT Infrastructure" as the name suggests. It does not even cover all aspects of an IT Service Management Library, which would be a more accurate name for its scope. For a framework that pays much lip service to the Deming Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle, it is light on with any part of that cycle except "Do".

Here is something to ponder for those of you who think ITIL is a fairly comprehensive coverage of the processes to run IT operations:
CobiT vs ITIL
(from the IT Governance Institute's excellent CobiT Mapping).

So the next time an ITIL zealot uses that "If we do ITIL we've got it covered" line, hit them with this chart.


The real point...

It is entirely true that ITIL is no panacea for IT Management but neither is CObIT. (Ducking for cover)

The point I aim to make is that there is no single framework for which any person can say comprehensively covers the IT Management space. Where do I come from? I'm no expert but I've been involved with a number of frameworks in my time in IT, ITIL, PRINCE2, PMBOK, CObIT, ValIT (which I unashamedly cheer for), ISO17799, ISO9000 and more generically TQM, Lean and Six Sigma. I'll add to that practical 'experience' a number of IT qualifications and will say unreservedly that none of them are 'comprehensive'.

Now that's off my chest, they all bring something to the management table, the trick is identifying which bits of which will deliver the most value, exercising some of that mystical critical thinking.

I personally used to have a good appreciation of ITIL and what it meant but like any framework, so many people have taken it as gospel, tried to implement it and largely ignored their core business. The fact is, most IT customers couldn't care less that you're using a framework, they just want to know a few basic things:

1. Whatever you're strategy, its designed to deliver competitive advantage in some way to the customer, most often through some massaging of the cost v quality relationship
2. Their IT 'stuff' will run well and get fixed quickly so they can run their business

I had thought the days of IT for IT's sake had passed, those halcion days where IT people would tell the business what they wanted inter alia BOFH. ITIL has seemed to change that, I'd challenge most ITIL implementations to demonstrate the value they're returning to the business beyond what would have been possible otherwise, critically assessing the situation and bringing together an appropriate set of tools to answer the problem.


I addressed some of this in my article stop the madness, ITIL is nothing new, it looks to me like an IT reinvention of TQM - Total Quality Management and any ISO certfications. IT is already doing a lot of this just have to be smarter and put better processes around people and technology.. - article on stop the madness and also on my blog on myspace, where the founder of this blog found me. My 2 pence.

ITIL and Enterprise Architecture

I have posted more on this at


I like COBIT. I think it *is* comprehensive. I haven't stumbled across any major gaping holes. It also is respectful towards major existing communities of practice such as data management, enterprise architecture, and portfolio management, where ITIL seems to have an odd combination of blindness and wilful disregard, or else appears determined to reinvent various wheels under different names.

I just got back from the Shared Insights Enterprise Architecture Conference (EAC) where there was a lot of discussion of ITIL. The emerging consensus is that ITIL reads like it was written by a bunch of operations and infrastructure folks who are trying to turn it into something more ambitious, with pretensions of covering all of IT management, but no real credibility at the front of IT value chain (portfolio and architecture) or in solutions delivery. I put this point of view out at my breakout session and at a panel discussion I was invited to speak on, and the only contradictory response from one person was, "well, they are addressing that in ITIL 3."


Does it really matter?

I read all the comments on ITIL, Cobit, ISO 20000, etc. etc... I know everyone has their favourite one for their specific situation, but I am trying to use the best practice/framework/whateveryouwanttocallit for customers that make the most sense for them ...
To be perfectly honest, you will never use everything, and you will often find parts that need adaptation to the situation.
Our tendency is too put too much faith in these models (to use a different word). And too many people just try to drill holes with a hammer ...
Use what you feel comfortable with, but be open to other options that also can work

Peter Lijnse

Cobit is comprehensive, but not complete

Hi Charlie!
I agree with you on the point that Cobit is comprehensive, but still is not enough, because I feel it lacks facts about people management (as one of the most important assets in the IT delivery). I like to enhance Cobit with escm from the Carnegie Mellon guys.


PS:: By the way, not allowing comments in your blog from people who is not registered is not a good idea! :-)

Empty your memory, with a free()... like a pointer!
If you cast a pointer to a integer, it becomes the integer,
if you cast a pointer to a struct, it becomes the struct...
The pointer can crash..., or it can Overflow...
Be a pointer my friend...


Unfortunately you have not read COBIT. As a Governance framework PEOPLE are infact one of the key resources and COBIT deals with this. Take the time to download COBIT 4.1, read in detail and engage your brain and you will see that COBIT is as designed a complete Governance framework.

I think this is a troll

I think this is a troll.

Ignore it Antonio and it will go away. I think it is trying to provoke a flame war.

If this is a serious post, please remember that we try to discuss things in a civilised manner here.

CobiT is good, but of course it is what not how

CobiT tells you how high to jump but nothing about technique of jumping. There are no red and blue books for CobiT. CobiT certainly maps out what ITIL should cover but CobiT doesn't do them. CobiT just provides the Table of Contents :-D

Amen to your ITIL remarks. See my latest ITSMWatch article about ITIL's cultural bias. Your comment highlights yet another dimension along which ITIL is biased.

And even if you don't map it to COBIT

I agree, and I have two comments to add:

1.- But do you still see those people who says "If we do ITIL we've got it covered" ?????? Where do you live? :-) Just kidding

2.- Even if you don't map it to COBIT, ITIL is not comprehensive because it doesn't cover *MY* company. Even if I only focus in one of those blue-boxed processes, it doesn't cover MY company...

COBIT is a swiss knife, plenty of interesting and useful gadgets, ITIL is just a guidance about "this is how people is doing things out there. And the big question is "How do *you* want/need things to be done?"

Antonio Valle

"The safe course leads ever downward into stagnation." -- Frank Herbert

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