Planning for ITIL V3 - or staying with ITIL V2

[Updated 22 Aug 2008]

There is no rush to go to ITIL version 3:

  • There is nothing much wrong with ITIL2
  • ITIL3 is too big with little help available (yet) on getting there - no sign of any complementary guidance about the path to ITIL yet, the meta-lifecycle
  • ITIL3 is too raw and nobody understands it properly yet; certainly not Service Strategy :-D
  • ITIL3 certification isn’t even finished yet, and
  • Only a small proportion of the ITIL community are advanced enough to need ITIL3

v2 works. It’s good. I’ll bet you never thought you would hear the me as The IT Skeptic say that. But it does and it is. I have been critical of aspects of v2 but overall it is a fine body of knowledge. If v2 worked for a business last year, why wouldn’t it work this year?

Michiel Croon said on the itSMFI forum

ITIL is not like software, it is not simply 'new and improved' (it has to applied to it's full value within every organisation in a unique way, since the issues you want to solve with it are seldom the same). V2 has not lost any of its value with the introduction of v3.

My home PC is a Pentium3. It runs SimCity3 which is all I ask. My phone is an old i-Mate PocketPC: a big chunky tablet. No fancy keyboards, no 3G, no WiFi … For many years I drove a 1974 Holden HQ Kingswood. That will mean something to only a tiny minority of readers, but if I tell you it had a bench front seat and a three-on-the-tree column shift, you’ll get the idea.

These “old” technologies work. They met the business requirement back then so why not now? Sometimes the requirements move on and so must the supporting infrastructure but sometimes they don’t. Or the move can be delayed until the infrastructure is ready.

Not only does v2 work well, but v3 is a big ask. If v2 taught us how to walk, v3 teaches us how to run. The trouble is many organisations are still sitting down. Only some organisations have already embarked on the ITIL journey and many are not that far along the road. I’d hazard a guess that maybe only 10% of adopters are ready to make use of the more advanced aspects of v3.

Certainly there is an attraction in starting out with v3 so you don’t need to “convert” later. Do not rush into this decision. For beginners or less advanced sites, there is currently little information about how to get to the higher standards of v3 in any graduated or phased manner.

As a result of integrating all the "Lost Books" of v2 (how many know that there are nine or 11 books in v2?), v3 is an order of magnitude broader and more complex than the red and blue books of v2. This is an advance for the industry, a step up in competency. Unfortunately it is only a step up if you are already standing on the v2 step. If you have not embarked on the service management journey yet, then v3 represents a high wall. Chuck the five core v3 books at a beginner and they'd run screaming.

v3 provides no intermediate steps up the wall. v2 is the only "beginner's ITIL" available. OGC (UK’s Office of Government Commerce) and TSO are hell-bent on killing off v2 as fast as possible. But v2 will not go anywhere until an ITIL for Dummies comes out as part of v3 complementary guidance. Or people will start turning to simpler alternatives such as FITS.

The other book we desperately need is "How to Implement v3" providing a progressive series of steps up that wall. The current five books say where to get to but they still say little about how to get there. Wait until something gets published that does.

ITIL is about improving maturity step by step. v3 is a maturing of ITIL over v2. All involved have endlessly reassured us that they are upwardly compatible. So stick with v2 for now.

Some organisations make a policy of waiting for “service pack 1”—the first wave of fixes (which we have in fact quietly had, not that anyone will have told you). Actually v3 looks remarkably clean for such a major rewrite, a tribute to all the editing and review. Check out my BOKKED database to see current known errors in the books.

More importantly, if you hold out we hope to see more complementary guidance books published to extend and elaborate on the core books.

Most important of all, you should wait for consensus to emerge about what works and what doesn’t in v3. Wait for the consultants to have a bit more than a two-day “upgrade” course under their belts. Heck, at this rate all the exams won’t be ready until 2009, so where are you going to get a v3 master anyway? By end of 2009 he or she may know what they are talking about.

For the great majority of readers, you don’t need to go v3 in 2008. Come 2009 or 2010, you will have made enough progress in some of your ITIL disciplines to actually consider the next maturity step, to v3.

Originally published as ITSMWatch article ITIL v3: What’s the Rush?.


Ending V2 training courses

We're one of those organizations "sitting down" - still trying to adapt ITIL (Service Support only) to our world. Several people have V2 Foundations and a few have Practitioners. I received an email yesterday from an international vendor saying that their last U.S. V2 public courses will be in December. If the others are following suit, we'll be forced to move to V3 unless we can fill up in-house training classes.

Imho, the only impact that

Imho, the only impact that v3 2ill have on your organization is that you will have to pay more to get people through v3 training. But they will learn same fundamental stuff you would in v2, from the perspective of applying it in this infancy "sitting down" stage your organization is in now. So, I would not worry about it one bit.

Or less

Talking to training providers I respect the message seems consistent:

- ITIL 3 is training to the book
- There is too much material to cover anything at a level that isn't superficial
- There is not enough time for exercises and debate to build a practical understanding
- Much of the material is irrelevant to the needs of the delegates or their organisations

training designed by the vendors for the vendors

Summarising that, James:

ITIL3 training is training designed by the vendors for the vendors, for maximum profit not maximum value

Does that follow?

Given a choice between a conspiracy theory and a c**k up I alwasys presume the latter. I can't see how the flaws in the training scheme really benefit the training providers.

I prefer to think, that like much of ITIL v3, the training has been developed too far away from the real world, with insufficnet input from the real experts and without learning lessons from previous mistakes.

Not a conspiracy

Not a conspiracy, just the wrong people designing it.

The courses are short to make them easy to sell and cheap to deliver.
The material is standardised and short so trainers don't have to be experts.
The material is by the book so it can be easily examined by multichoice
Multichoice is used so marking is automated = big savings

**** you - I want V2 training

I believe the market is still there for V2 training.
V3 still has not delivered the guidance on how a newbie organisation climbs the V3 mountain, and until they do consumers should hang tough and say "no **** you - I want V2 training and I'll not be bullied into V3 just to aid your profitability"

V2 training IS still available - despite attempts to kill it off

Individual trainers (and in the UK, most trainers are like me - freelancers who work for a number of organisations) are mostly pretty to very unhappy teaching V3. We do not benefit from more training courses - we mostly are working to capacity anyway. We DO have to learn the new materials, to a level that we are happy to explain to others, answer questions etc. We have to pay our own money to sit all of the exams, before we can teach them - being an ITIL expert is not enough, apparently. (On this point, Richard Pharro of APMG defended the rule by saying that you would not want someone who studied medieval history in their degree teaching you modern or ancient history. As a History graduate, I had to tell him that that was fundamentally wrong - it is the skills in analysis, examination of evidence etc. which history teaches you, that can then me applied to any period - the same is true for ITIL - once you an an Expert certainly if you achieved that through the Managers certificate + Managers Bridge route, you can apply that "Wisdom" to any given service management area or issue).
Most trainers I speak say the same as those James has spoken to - the courses are superficial, rushed, talk about issues that are of no interest to the average student, etc., Most frustrating of all, many leave the course the same as when they started, except with an exam pass. With most V2 courses, students leave with a new awareness, often a plan to do something practical.
As a small Training Provider, as well as a freelance trainer, I find a healthy demand for V2 training still exists, which I am happy to satisfy. However many training companies rely on sales staff who cannot comprehend the differences between V2 and V3, and so it is easier for them to only have one flavour to sell. Many people do not realise that V2 is still available.
A many people have said, V2 Foundation was an excellent course which enthused people. (Practitioner level was less successful, and Managers too difficult for the majority). If V3 had expanded the V2 Foundation's detailed explanation of several useful processes with an explanation of the Lifecycle, and left the detail to the Intermediate level classes, I think we would all be much happier. Many students leaving a V3 foundation course are glad to pass the exam, but see no relevance of what they have learnt. V2 students are often asking " How can I learn more about this?"
I suspect that after massive course development work, training providers may find that the demand for classes reduces, as more and more people come back to their workplace with less than enthusiastic feedback about the courses they have attended.

Liz Gallacher
Freelance Trainer and Consultant

many leave the course the same as when they started

What a great line Liz! "many leave the course the same as when they started, except with an exam pass".

I wrote in the past about the dangers of the freshly sheep-dipped Foundation graduates out to change the world. Somehow I feel that won't be such an issue with V3 Foundation.

or is it just a teething problem? As we get more comfortable with V3, and as we hone the best areas to focus on, and maybe even the syllabus improves again, could the situation change and we start cranking out ITIL happy-clappers again?

Hang heads in shame

I've been delaying responding to this post in order to avoid an overly emotional response, but of course the Skep and Liz have hit the nail on the head. Back when I started delivering v1 training we were helping people not only see the world differently, but also to change the world they inhabited. sometimes that meant opening their eyes to what was possible, sometimes it meant them realising, in a positive way, that the world we were presenting wasn't one they could buy in to. If training doesn't chnage things, what is the point of it?

ITIL V3 the next generation

Hi All,

Not sure if this is relevant but it does show that changes are happening in awareness.

Just got through interviewing people for a change management position.
One of the general questions asked was "Can you name the Service Support Processes?"
One response, "I don't know those V2 processes, I know V3."

SO we asked if he could name the goal of change.... he could not.

Incident, Problem, Change

Most organizations I worked with a couple years ago had made great progress towards implementing Incident, problem and Change.
Configuration Management was always a Utopia, and Release was controlled by the developers who snubbed their noses at ITIL, because they have their own processes which were working just fine.

I think the benefit of V3 is that it promotes perception of IT as a Service. I think it may be too early for many people to wrap their heads around this concept. In many of my courses a few years ago, I warned particpants "start thinking of IT as a Service" because every book in the next version will have that word in the book titles.

I think the main difficulty is not the ability of people to think of IT as a Service but it is the political ramifications that come with it.........

I’m inclined to agree.

I’m inclined to agree. The challenge with IT-based capabilities is that they are seldom perceived as services and hence not designed and managed as services to customers. Instead, they are managed as a collection of admin routines where efficiency and costs are the main levers of control. Predictably, customers therefore see IT as a collection of back-office administrators rather than as a service provider.

Efficiency and costs are important but they are seldom enough. The natural inclination for many IT organizations is to work on so-called pragmatic activities focused on “business as usual – only better” or “the one best way.” This approach often solves the wrong problems, improving services in ways that are either irrelevant or too inflexible to customers' needs. A well-designed Incident Management process, for instance, is irrelevant if customers require services that never break down. Or worse, competitors offer the same services which never break down.

When IT management doesn’t grasp the concept of services, they inevitably miss key factors. For example, services are inherently relational. (This point is missed when we say the purpose of IT is to “manage data flow.” That’s the purpose of the technology.) Unlike a hammer or automobile--which can be inspected for quality before it leaves the factory—IT services only exist during the act of consumption. The real challenge, therefore, is to identify what customers perceive as value – and only then converting these desired outcomes into appropriate responses (by cycling quickly through the organizational learning cycle; AKA the service lifecycle). In practice, this is seldom easy.


Now this my friends is a Kingswood. Found the old photo today. Nearly shed a tear. Ain't he handsome? (Most cars are "she". Kingies aren't, not for me anyway)
Holden Kingswood HQ 1974Holden Kingswood HQ 1974

He came to a terrible end


New car right ?

They are still selling 1974 HQ Kingswoods new in NZ right ? People are trading in "Ramblers" in a very special cash for clunkers scheme :)

Brad Vaughan

clunkers for cash

Actually a good 74 Kingswood will cost you $20,000 to $30,000. They rust out in the maritime environment (which is all of NZ). Even in Aussie they are getting rare because they race them over there and are slowly trashing them all. So it is more clunkers for cash.

P.S. what's a Rambler? :) (Yeah i do actually know but I'm not sure I've ever seen one)

Syndicate content