The Skeptical Informer, September 2007, Volume 1, No. 8

The newsletter of the IT Skeptic. All the IT skeptical news that is fit to print... and then some!

The ITIL certification storm continues to rage. The IT Skeptic blog saw much activity around training and certification this month. How on earth do APMG expect to have any credibility as a training organisation if they violate the most basic principles of adult education? I am no expert but I did half of a post-graduate Certificate in Adult Education before I discovered what lecturers get paid, and I have designed and delivered many IT courses from one to five days long, and I'm shocked by what I see.

Never have I heard a single authorative source suggest that 25 is an appropriate size for a class in a complex technical subject like ITIL.

Nobody in their right mind would consider covering all five ITIL books in three days - no matter how lightly - with people who have no prior exposure to the subject.

And only post-modernist intellectual idiots suggest that multi-choice is an appropriate mechanism for examining practitioners in IT consulting.

But APMG thinks all of these are a good idea. I don't actually think that APMG or the Senior Examiner Panel are stupid people, so that leaves one other option: that all these decisions were taken with a commercial imperative. They are not in the best interest of the students, they are not designed to deliver quality education, they are not intended to ensure competent graduates. It is hard to come to any other conclusion than that these three decisions are taken solely to benefit the vendors of training.

Pack them in at 25 a course to maximise revenues. Keep it down to three days to make it easy to sell. And make all exams multi-choice so we don't have to pay human graders - we can just run it through a machine.

I find this venality appalling, especially because it is so overt. APMG is answerable to no-one but OGC, who never takes a stand on anything except protecting their own copyright. itSMF exists to promote the industry not to represent the user community, so they are not going to pipe up. The industry can just pillage away unchallenged. No wonder the Department of Justice is sniffing around our industry: I can smell the stink from here in New Zealand.

This month we had several incidents of fairly upset people expressing negative views of me: one at the start of the month and one at the end, and another that suggest I need to "get a life". Sir, I'm trying to.

On the other hand we had some superb discussions going that I think contributed to the ITSM body of knowledge, and I hope were enjoyable and valuable for readers. On balance, a good month for comments on the blog. Here is my precis of the activity:

The debate over value networks continued unabated: excellent points on all sides and a fascinating read.

So too did the discussion and criticism of ITIL V3 Foundations courses and exams here and here and here (the last thread included the ugly issue of class sizes and the awful official feedback mechanism)

There was interesting discussion of how many processes are there in V3 and what constitutes a process that segued into the difference between Risk and Problem.

We had brisk debate over the makeup of the new itSMF International Board and the process of its election.

Sharon Taylor responded to a couple of comments, including the thorny question of exam result moderation (read; adjustment), as did Peter Brooks on the election topics. I welcome the views of the ITIL "establishment" to bring balance to the blog. I had to clarify that in one thread.

My assertion that itSMF members are in fact "shareholders" triggered a good discussion of itSMF's role.

We talked about how to get to version 3 in stages .

Sorry folks, but I dredged up the CMDB arguement again (which turned into a brisk debate of Service Catalogue). Nobody picked up on the irony of me accusing the vendors of beating the CMDB drum.

On a lighter note:
itsm_stephen has been digging into the back corners of the blog and commented on IBM's sale of TSD and how they tried to sell it's latest incarnation to him again!

mbuzina thinks that itSMF can teach ISACA one thing: how to attract publicity,

LiteHeaded was shattered to learn the IT Skeptic is real,

and John Worthington posted a nice poem about me that erased all the nastiness over the month. Thanks John!


ISACA and itSMF can do more together. There is a great deal of synergy between our organisations and very little overlap.

Writing a presentation today, I was reminded again of the biggest hole in the ITIL content, even ITIL3. ITIL3 now describes the lifecycle of a service, and does an excellent job of it. But where is the guidance on how to implement the ITIL process machinery to manage that service through its lifecycle? Where is the lifecycle of the lifecycle, as it were - the meta-lifecycle?

[updated]On contemplating the recent nominations for the itSMF International Board and Chair, I wonder if any other readers share my concern that 5 out of 12 candidates were eliminated on a technicality? Especially a technicality that the current Board and Chair might not have met...


Who Is The IT Skeptic

The IT Skeptic is a commentator on IT's sillier moments, especially those related to ITSM in general and ITIL in particular. This is not because the IT Skeptic wishes to focus on ITIL - it is just that ITIL and itSMF provide such great material for a skeptic.

The IT Skeptic is the pseudonym of Rob England, an IT consultant and commentator. He consults in all areas of IT management, including governance, ITSM, and DevOps (he's a certified DevOps Foundation instructor). He has nearly thirty years experience mapping business requirements to IT solutions, many of them in service management. He has written many articles and papers, and several books. He is a member of itSMF, ISACA, and the NZ Institute of IT Professionals. He is also a paid-up Skeptic. He has lived an exciting life. He lives with his son in a small house in a small village in a small country far away.

Rob England's profile

An interview on ITSMTV with the IT Skeptic: background and persona.

More video of the IT Skeptic

Please Like the IT Skeptic on facebook

Quotes from the IT Skeptic

Subscribe now

If you are not a subscriber already, click here to subscribe to have future editions of this newsletter emailed to you.

Get all the IT skeptical news that is fit to print ... and then some!

Spread the word

Pondered the ramifications, debated the implications, now there is only one thing left to do: get the t-shirt! Or coffee mug or mouse pad...

Recent podcasts

Keep an eye on Lean. It is the next big thing (fad or real change?). I always watch what is coming across from manufacturing to IT because - in the service management area at least - that is the trend: manufacturing teaches us.

This is a podcast of the original article.

OK I'll bite. One of the nice folk at Evergreen, Jill Landers, posted "Top 10 reasons to implement a CMDB". I'll do the right thing and not quote it in full here so you need to go read that first. Then you can enjoy my "Top 10 reasons NOT to implement CMDB"

Classic Skeptic

I worked with a number of clients in a previous vendor life who were struggling to “do ITIL” because they felt (or had been told) they had to. There was little or no funding, often no project. And why?

From the blog

We saw an extraordinary venting of bile on this blog yesterday by an anonymous visitor I label Stone-caster. Normally I would ignore it, but it makes accusations of hypocrisy and dishonesty that I feel should be addressed.

I reproduce it in full:

The penny dropped. Finally I understand the gap between the behaviour of itSMF at the International level (and sometimes at the Chapter level), and the expectations of its members. Even though we are called "members", we aren't. We are shareholders [update: "stakeholders" is a better word as shares are not transferrable].

ITIL Version 3 has the IT Operations world abuzz. People are asking questions, worrying about the impact, revising plans, and hurrying off to do training that sounds like it may not be quite finished yet. There is no rush to go to ITIL3.

Readers who are familiar with Occam's Razor may like to apply the principle to itSMF's recent theory as to the source of the USA Board election fraud.

drumCMDB can't be done - not with a reasonable investment of resources. But not to hear the vendors (of software and consulting) tell it.

My colleague Ross has suggested a technique for dealing with the density of the new ITIL version 3 Service Strategy book.

[updated to protect the guilty] We have had a wonderful example of how not to comment spam a website, by an otherwise reputable company.

Posted on itSMF website - link to report from APMG - key points extracted below

My son has been playing Club Penguin. This is a wonderful kids' website that manages to be fun, social, slightly edifying and quite safe.

To find such a nice thing on the internet is a pleasant change from narcissic MyFaceSpaceBook,,,, and grumpy blogs like this one. It is a bit of a surprise. It's like finding a scout hall built between a pub and a brothel.

APMG are you reading this?

The message is coming through on this blog loud and clear: the trainers actually delivering ITIL version 3 Foundations training are NOT HAPPY.

[Updated]There is no such thing as truly independent people in any sphere of business. Just so you all know, here’s what I know about affiliations of the candidates for itSMF International Chair and the new itSMF International Board:

Since I am posting about the candidates for the itSMF International Board right now, it is timely to remind readers of a blog policy: please identify yourself if commenting about other people.

itSMF International has announced the results of election nominations for the Chairman and Board of itSMF International.

Readers will wonder where some comments went on this thread. Certain parties are invoking non-disclosure agreements to silence discussion about a Certain Topic. This is their right.

They may not have achieved the result they wanted though. The Certain Topic is standard practice, not uncommon at all. Even though I am critical of it, it is not unusual, so now I am wondering why it is such a secret and everyone is so sensitive about it.

Selected comments

Please forward this newsletter to someone who would enjoy it

Subscribe | Blog | Blog RSS | Podcast RSS | Feedback

© Copyright 2006-2009 Two Hills Ltd All rights reserved
Permission is required to reproduce this content in any form. Brief extracts may be used without permission if attributed with a link to the site.
"The IT Skeptic™", "The Skeptical Informer™", "The IT Swami™", "Chokey the Chimp™" and "BOKKED™" are trademarks of Two Hills Ltd.

ITIL® is a Registered Trade Mark and a Registered Community Trade Mark of the UK Office of Government Commerce ("OGC"). ITIL® is registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
COBIT® is a Registered Trade Mark of the Information Systems Audit and Control Association and the IT Governance Institute.
Microsoft® is a Registered Trade Mark of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.
CMM® is a Registered Trade Mark of Carnegie Mellon University.
ISO® is a Registered Trade Mark of the International Organisation for Standardisation.

This newsletter and its contents are neither associated with nor endorsed by the OGC or any other organisation.

The contents of this newsletter do not represent the views of Two Hills Ltd.