Warning don't try ITIL V3's SKMS at work

ITIL V3's Service Knowledge Management System (SKMS) is something to aspire to. But it is seldom a good decision to do it right now. WARNING: don't try this at work.

I think the word for the SKMS is "aspirational", something to aspire to.

Me, I aspire to twelve hectares of native bush, a Mazda MX5, and riding every railway on Earth with my son. Not unreasonable but there will never be a "business case", any more than there will ever be a business case for the process geek's aspriation to have everything nice and tidy, done right. Nice to have but nothing my wife is going to sign off on right now (actually she WOULD sign off on "nice and tidy, done right").

I would also like a deck round three sides of the house, and some concrete for the hillside behind the house so the hillside doesn't come join the house. Those would add value to the house but probably not a good return on the investment. And they are beyond any rational budget right now.

Joe asked

Is there a case that can be made to sceptical managers and budget-holders? For doing each part - the bullets in the original post are a good list - and for doing the whole thing as an integrated system? At the very least, can we say "if you don't do the SKMS you will lose X"?

If you don't have a SKMS what will you lose? Well, you'll lose information. At times you'll make mistakes that could have been prevented with a SKMS, or have to rediscover information that could heve been preserved in a SKMS. Will the mistakes cost more than the SKMS? I doubt it but that is up to the business case - occasionally maybe.

Then there is a second, less-often-asked question. Even if the business case stacks up, we live in a finite world. Is this the best use of limited funds? I would say even less likely than there being a good business case.

An aspirational object gives us an optimal model - something to steer towards, a final objective perhaps never attained but at least providing shape and direction to what we do.

Finally the book does not warn us about this. it does not say "Don't try this at work". No, it (Service Transition) just says "a consistent set of high-quality guidance", "world-class Service Management expertise", "The aim of this publication is to support ST managers and practitioners in their application of ST practices", "This publication supplies answers", "This publication explores industry practices", "document industry best practices". Nothing about "some of this has never been tried before". Section and a few paragraphs elsewhere vaguely allude to SKMS as a planned implementation over time, but nothing about "WARNING: the next bit is a highly speculative future vision".

So, let us beware those who equate SKMS with Configuration Management Database (CMDB) or ITIL V3's superset of that the Configuration Management System (CMS) ["Are you the People's Judean Liberation Front?" "No f*** off, we are the people's Liberation Front of Judea"]. SKMS is to CMS as Windows Vista is to MS-DOS. No, as Windows 2012 is to MS-DOS.

So SKMS is nice to have, but it is seldom a sensible decision to build it now. It gives us something to work towards so long as we don't see it as a blueprint for CMDB (just as Bill Gates' house gives me something to work towards as I plan my deck).

And as for CMDB, I think my views are clear. Just start at the top of this article and substitute "CMDB" for "SKMS": nice to have, seldom a good business case, almost never best use of funds.



I personally think it is a good thing to have extensive documentation. Currently I am working with an international company who don’t hence they licensing, computer info, knowledge is a thing you have to not just ask around the office for or ever around the building but around the country. I see other IT professionals like me who have just came into this company shaking their heads in amazement. Knowledge Management is effective in resolving issues fast and this data needs to be stored in a database, not in a couple of word documents that are scattered across the network. SKMS is something to aspire to as there is always going to be a little chaos, but with a little cooperation from other members of the company maybe we could get there. Granted looking at the comments on this page I am the only one who thinks so, but maybe if you found yourself working where I am you might change your mind.

Laziness about knowledge is almost a universal

Maybe if I worked where you do i might change my mind but I doubt it. I am constantly frustrated by IT techs' desire to solve non-technical issues with technology. Knowledge management is a cultural problem not a technical one. A bookshelf and a Windows directory can be perfectly good knowledge management technologies if staff treat knowledge as a valued asset and treat sharing of knowledge as a professional responsibility and a valued behaviour. But they don't. Laziness about knowledge is almost a universal. No amount of whizzy repositories and search engines are going to fix that.

How can anyone doubt that? Go count the number of successful KM technology implementations around the world - there aren't many. Look closely at the culture of the organisations that are successful. Then count the myriad crumbling ruins of failed knowledge tools that cover the planet.

Whenever I hear a proposal for implementing a KM tool I groan and mutter "YAFR" - Yet Another Repository. I just know what it will look like in two years time: a disused crumbling ruin...

I would agree that some

I would agree that some parts och KM in the ST book has a clear "haven't tried this, but it seems logical enough"-warning. But I also would say that there is a value of keeping information in a SKMS as long as you have a clear view on 1, what value will each piece bring to your business and 2, how long it will be of value to keep there. Setting a specific, reasonable, limited goal for the KM process will help you achieve the value-part, and keeping a good information management system will help you with the second part (plus measuring contribution as part of the process).


And btw, if you're going to

And btw, if you're going to quote from Life of Brian, I think we ought to open a discussion of ITIL adopters ... saying "Yes, we are all individuals!"

But that's good

"Something to aspire" to is a good thing, surely? Are you being sceptical enough? :)

Here's a sceptical (I mean cynical) view, echoing something discussed before: it's something for tools vendors to aspire to.

hmmm about...ism

I guess Do not try at work goes for the recent adopters of KM framework….but for the orgs who are growing and looking at present precarious environment (economics; competition; demanding customer; high attrition rate; knowledge highway bottleneck...)KM practitioners need to adopt to SKMS as there is no choice--where to keep my information in right and easily retrievable manner?

I go with Greg!!
....and no big deal about the wrong diagram and ..ism never hurts me


a Bad Thing

Something that is not currently achievable is a Bad Thing in a body of work that purports to be good practice guidance, especailly if it is embedded in there without safety warnings

It's definately a wishlist: SKMS in ST and SO books don't match

Check figure 4.39 (page 151) in Service Transition and figure 4.6 (pages 67) in Service Operations.

If it is best practice there would be one model not 2. :)


Yup, known error, but thanks for the reminder :D, very salient

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