An IT Skeptic book review: Foundations of ITSM based on ITIL V3

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Can the five core ITIL V3 books be compressed into one without significant loss of content? Yes it would seem so, looking at the itSMF's ITSM Library book Foundations of IT Service Management Based on ITIL V3. How useful is the result? Worth having but still not an all-out replacement for the Five for the simple reason that it isn't the official version.

For those first encountering ITIL V3, the IT Skeptic recommends starting with The Official Introduction to the ITIL Service Lifecycle, or even Passing Your ITIL Foundation Exam - The Official Study Aid. Both those books are an introductory summary of ITIL.

For much the same price (less than fifty bucks), Foundations of IT Service Management Based on ITIL V3 is a condensation of the five core ITIL V3 books (the "Lifecycle Suite"), not a high level summary. It contains most (if not all) of the content of the Five in just one book and at an eleventh of the price! It achieves this in a number of ways:

  • smaller font, more densely formatted
  • eliminates all the tedious duplication in the five books (not to mention inconsistencies)
  • simplification of some explanations
  • omission of some material? I haven't found any yet - readers please comment

For the next step in getting your head around ITIL V3 after one of those introductories, you could do a lot worse than to read Foundations of IT Service Management Based on ITIL V3.

For the more advanced reader, this book would be a good starting point as it is - skip the introductory books.

Unfortunately you won't be examined on this book, so it is a useful but not sufficient prerequisite to studying for certification: you'll still have to wrestle with the Five. Nor can you quote from this book with the same authority as from the Five, nor wave it around in meetings. I'd be willing to argue that this is a better basic ITIL reference than the Five but it simply isn't ITIL. The five core books are. They have the brand.

For those who have read the Five and are still struggling, Foundations of IT Service Management Based on ITIL V3 provides an alternative explanation of the same concepts. In places it is just a paraphrase and some of the diagrams are conceptually identical but drawn in a different graphic style. (The copyright implications are interesting - nowhere is the OGC Licence mentioned. I assume JvB or VHP have one, and now of course they are safely snuggled under itSMF's wing.) But it restructures the ideas and re-explains many of them: it would undoubtedly be a useful fresh perspective. And uniquely it provides a full explanation of the Lifecycle in one place, not scattered over five books. Likewise the explanation of processes and functions is consolidated instead of being fragmented across the Five as some of them are.

On the subject of processes, it is amusing to watch the Dutch authors give a proper explanation of a process and then avoid the messy question of exactly what are the processes in ITIL. They give themselves a loop-hole by constantly refering to "processes and functions" without identifying which is which.

For all the reviewing that reportedly went on, there are occasional basic editing errors such as "For the last decade, IT Service Management has been known for the last decade as..." (p174). Likewise the occasional odd English: "A planning provides for ..." (p183). But these are few and far between: the book is generally clean.

Note that this book is "taken" from the more comprehensive book IT Service Management - An Introduction which is based on "ITSM, ITIL, ISO/IEC 20000 and many other standards and management frameworks..." [according to the Foreword to this book]. If that 500-page book yielded 350 pages of ITIL, that reflects well on ITIL's contribution to the ITSM body of knowledge, no?

Foundations of IT Service Management Based on ITIL V3 is a good meaty clear practical useful book that I am glad to have in my library. And for what you get the price is remarkably cheap.

Disclosure: Ivo van Haren gave me my copy and Jan van Bon bent my ear about the book over beers.

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