A Critical Look @ ITIL V3: Is it the wrong thing?

Mary RoseMary Rose ■□□□□□□□□□ Posts: 16Member ■□□□□□□□□□
I came across one of Rob England's books, Owning ITIL, where he trashes V3 badly. Take a look here Owning ITIL® - a skeptical guide for decision makers | The IT Skeptic

Now, I take the IT Skeptic's views seriously because he seems to know what he's talking about.

Do you agree with his critique of V3?
If so, should we boycutt V3 and go back to V2?

That is, if he's not being a sarcastic jokster with the entire book, if he's actually serious about what he's saying, then what do people who hold his view think we should do? Do away with V3? Use it selectively? What exactly?

Or... should we adopt an extremely pragmatic approach and stick to it (even if we don't believe in it) just because it's a money engine to some and a boost of credentials for those who are not running their own business?

I hope we can he a rich discussion about this book and the whole validity of the V3 approach.

I'm listening.

Comments

  • eMeSeMeS Posts: 1,875Member
    Mary Rose wrote: »
    I came across one of Rob England's books, Owning ITIL, where he trashes V3 badly. Take a look here Owning ITIL® - a skeptical guide for decision makers | The IT Skeptic

    Now, I take the IT Skeptic's views seriously because he seems to know what he's talking about.

    Do you agree with his critique of V3?

    He occasionally makes good points, but has often made some very incorrect points and has been called out on it many times. I disagree with much of his critique, but I think there are nuggets of wisdom in much of what he says. I would also add that for the most part, Rob is embraced by the ITIL/ITSM community.
    Mary Rose wrote: »
    If so, should we boycutt V3 and go back to V2?

    The key thing that Rob and others miss is that any version of ITIL is a reflection of how things are done in certain situations in certain industries. These are called "best practices" because they have been shown to be the best way to do something in a certain case and/or situation.

    Personally I find v2 to be very lacking compared to the state of IT in many organizations in many different industries. I do regularly work with people in various industries, and I can tell you that v3 is much more reflective of reality than v2, whether or not the organization is officially following ITIL guidelines.

    Boycotting any version of ITIL makes no sense to me because much of what's described in best practice can literally be traced back thousands of years. How exactly does one boycott common sense? (other than Fox News).
    Mary Rose wrote: »
    That is, if he's not being a sarcastic jokster with the entire book, if he's actually serious about what he's saying, then what do people who hold his view think we should do? Do away with V3? Use it selectively? What exactly?

    Rob's viewpoint is an opinion. It's no more supported by fact than any other opinion out there. One of the problems is that people focus too much on opinions and not enough on what works in specific situations.
    Mary Rose wrote: »
    Or... should we adopt an extremely pragmatic approach and stick to it (even if we don't believe in it) just because it's a money engine to some and a boost of credentials for those who are not running their own business?

    It really doesn't matter what any of us believe. Whatever is valid is what the market decides is valid. Regardless of the business you're in, your job is to meet some need in the market. If people want or need ITIL and knowledge about it, then they should be able to get it; whether or not I believe in it is irrelevant. In fact I do support much of it, however, I realize that very little in this world is an all or nothing proposition. ITIL from this perspective is really just a menu of ~50,000 things that one might do to manage IT in the form of services that may or may not work in any specific situation.

    I'm not paid to believe, rather, I am paid to show a customer how a best practice from ITIL can be applied and might work in their case. What works in one case will not necessarily work in another case.

    There is almost never a recipe for these types of things, and ITIL does not claim to offer such...

    MS
  • ITILTRAINITILTRAIN ■□□□□□□□□□ Posts: 21Banned ■□□□□□□□□□
    I think the previous post says it all about the Skeptic. I know Rob pretty well and I think Rob points out some fo the things that people are thinking about but do not want to talk about....he is also very entertaining so I kind of view him as a stand up comic focused on the world of ITIL. His book are just a summary of everything he has written about on his web site (with more detail)
  • The IT SkepticThe IT Skeptic ■□□□□□□□□□ Posts: 7Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    OK let me address points from both Mary Rose's and eMeS's posts please.

    I don't think I trash ITIL V3 per se. I use ITIL in my own work, when appropriate. The only bit of the ITIL content (any version) that I really challenge strongly as a bad idea is CMDB (and now CMS and SKMS). See CMDB | The IT Skeptic. But all of ITIL, even CMDB, is of course fundamentally useful in the right context. When i go after the content of ITIL it is to improve it not destroy it.

    What my book addresses is the hype around ITIL, the crass commercialisation of ITIL, and the cult-worship of ITIL, doing ITIL for its own sake. In many situations, i don't think ITIL is even the first tool you should reach for. So the book is more about the human behaviours around ITIL than the content itself (although the content does of course have flaws like any work).

    What should we do with ITIL? We should use it when we need a reference framework, a definition of how to do stuff which we can use as a template. Template for what? For the process bits of a behavioural change that we are trying to achieve to meet a business objective. if there isn't a business goal and a business case showing why it is a worthwhile investment, and a formal program of cultural change, then we shouldn't just "do ITIL" because everyone else is or because we think it is some magic pixie dust that will make everyone do their jobs better. I 100% agree with eMeS "ITIL ... is really just a menu of ~50,000 things that one might do to manage IT in the form of services that may or may not work in any specific situation"

    that's what the book is about.

    eMeS, I am of course drawn by your statement "occasionally makes good points, but has often made some very incorrect points and has been called out on it many times". I do recall a few times where I have retracted or corrected statements on the blog, but I don't recall "many". If I was full of s**t I doubt that I would remain "embraced by the ITIL/ITSM community" for four years of ever increasing readership. If you want to debate ideas with me that would be great but don't just slag me without basis OK? Name some of the "many" errors in the book or blog.

    yes my blog is opinion. So is ITIL. The market didn't decide what is in ITIL. A few dozen people did, mostly Western men working for consulting or training or software firms.
  • eMeSeMeS Posts: 1,875Member
    eMeS, I am of course drawn by your statement "occasionally makes good points, but has often made some very incorrect points and has been called out on it many times". I do recall a few times where I have retracted or corrected statements on the blog, but I don't recall "many". If I was full of s**t I doubt that I would remain "embraced by the ITIL/ITSM community" for four years of ever increasing readership. If you want to debate ideas with me that would be great but don't just slag me without basis OK? Name some of the "many" errors in the book or blog.

    Rob, my statement is not intended to be a "slag" against you, I can see how it might sound that way and I apologize if it does. My intent is to point out more from an anecdotal standpoint when I have seen points made, and the community has corrected you graciously. The most recent that I remember is in a LI discussion confusing the difference between business and a technical service catalogs. Not a critical error in judgment by any means; none of these things really are. I'd also point out that LI is not necessarily representative of the ITSM community at large. I also sense that, like me, LI discussions have to reach a fever pitch of BS to really get your attention.

    I'm not sure if this is a compliment or not, but if I just wanted to slag against authors, bloggers, etc.., then the SOA world is a much more target-rich environment compared to the ITIL world.

    I'm not a big blog reader or LI discussion group reader, so when I do get drawn to one of those things it tends to only be during the significant points of controversy. In fairness to you, those are really the only types of things that get my attention, so my view there is likely a bit skewed. I'm sure we all mean and think different things when the words "many", "occasionally" and "often" are used.

    I realize that I haven't pointed out a single error in your book or blog. There are others, but I don't really keep a list of "things I think the IT Skeptic got wrong", nor am I about to spend significant time creating such a list. Again, that would just be my opinion, as many of these things are.

    I've always seen ITIL as a bit pseudo-scientific in a sense. There is often claimed support for some approach, but it's often difficult to find or prove that support and the experiments are not repeatable. What I know works in certain situations around adopting or following ITIL guidelines will definitely not work in others, even to the point of appearing to other "incorrect" from another's experience.

    I don't know Rob "well" or really at all, but my impression is that he is a critical part of the ITSM community. I also feel like a skeptical viewpoint is appreciated by many, but definitely not all. I also don't get the impression that Rob is calling for a boycott of anything, rather, as stated he'd like to see things made better over time. I think "ITIL" (were it a thinking entity) would agree with that.

    Rob, I'm surprised that you responded here, but welcome you. TE is often populated with people just starting out or early in their IT careers, and I'd say having more people on board with broad IT exposure over decades will be greatly appreciated and helpful. I hope you'll stick around.

    MS
  • The IT SkepticThe IT Skeptic ■□□□□□□□□□ Posts: 7Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    Thanks eMeS for your gracious reply, apology accepted.

    I'm happy for folk to debate points with me and there are many who disagree with me, especially those whose mortgages are paid by ITIL. But don't say I get it wrong a lot and that is shown a lot. I like to think the majority of my points have validity and I'm confident most readers would agree.

    I don't recall ever being called out for confusing a technical service catalogue with a business service catalogue. i think my understanding of TSC and BSC is pretty good catalogue | The IT Skeptic. I do recall hotly debating whether there is such a thing as a technical service, unseen by a customer. I do not recall being shown to be "wrong" on that, and in fact I suspect this is an issue where the ITSM community would be well split by it if we took a vote. I also think most if not all of the ITIL authors would side with me, but a huge proportion of geeks still don't get it.
  • eMeSeMeS Posts: 1,875Member
    I'm happy for folk to debate points with me and there are many who disagree with me, especially those whose mortgages are paid by ITIL.

    I'm not one of them, but without a doubt ITIL is a significant revenue stream for our company.

    Still Rob I think what I said might have been taken a bit more harshly than it was intended. I do understand that this is not your fault, it's mine.

    Honestly, the brief interaction that I've had with you was nothing but positive.
    I don't recall ever being called out for confusing a technical service catalogue with a business service catalogue. i think my understanding of TSC and BSC is pretty good catalogue | The IT Skeptic.

    I was able to look on LinkedIn and find the discussions that I'm following. Although this one is dead for all intents and purposes, here's the link:

    LinkedIn (Not sure if this will actually get you to it or not...)

    At one point, you said therein, "...There is no difference in the services listed in the Technical Service Catalogue and the Business Service Catalogue - they are differing views of the same services..."

    The participants in the discussion further point out that your understanding of the difference between the two is in fact incorrect. I agree. Just for the record, I often disagree with many of those guys. I've looked at the link you've posted and Figure 4.3 in the SD book. I couldn't be in more complete disagreement with you.

    BSC's are a boundary to present business services, which are used as part of business processes. TSC's are a boundary to present technical and supporting services, which are often the building blocks used to compose business services.

    If I think of McDonald's as an example, their BSC is the menu that their customers use. We could think of the items on that menu as services. We could think of those services as in turn being composed of building blocks, or technical components or services.

    As a customer I can visit McDonald's and easily purchase 10 Happy Meals. What I cannot do is purchase a big bag of onions, although onions might be included in Happy Meals. In that sense, the "onion service" is a technical, or supporting service. The people working at McDonald's can get a big bag of onions, but I, the customer, cannot.

    BSC's and TSC's are not the same. It's not that the services are the same, it's that we as individuals may carry-out different roles at different times and interact with both regularly. For example, I could both work for a phone company in their IT department, and be a customer of their services.

    This is somewhat all irrelevant, because as I take ITIL it says that if you can establish boundaries such as these, then it might lead to overall reduced cost, improved quality and better alignment between IT and the business, BUT, it might not be something that is worthwhile or a specific fit in any specific business. The granularity of that boundary is going to be different everywhere.

    In my experience the ITIL consulting community often does a huge disservice by often sending customers initially adopting ITIL best practices down the path of creating a service catalogue. More often than not this is not the place for an organization to start, but many think it is. I find that every organization is different, but most often some activities in CSI will go first....that's another discussion for another time....
    I do recall hotly debating whether there is such a thing as a technical service, unseen by a customer. I do not recall being shown to be "wrong" on that, and in fact I suspect this is an issue where the ITSM community would be well split by it if we took a vote. I also think most if not all of the ITIL authors would side with me, but a huge proportion of geeks still don't get it.

    I'm not certain that I was party to that discussion, as I know nothing of it. There are definitely such things as technical services and business services, and they are not two different ways of describing the same thing.

    MS
  • The IT SkepticThe IT Skeptic ■□□□□□□□□□ Posts: 7Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    You have your opinion and I have mine, but I think ITIL supports mine :D

    "The Technical Service Catalogue: containing details of all the IT services delivered to the customer"
    Service Design 4.1.4.

    Those are therefore the SAME services as listed in the BSC

    It goes on to say

    "...together with relationships to the supporting services, shared services, components and CIs necessary to support the provision of the service to the business. "

    "relationships to" not "details of". Supporting services and shared services appear in the TSC only as components of the services being documented, which are the services provided to the customer, same as the BSC. Supporting services and shared services are not themselves documented in detail in the TSC. (They would be documented in detail in the service catalogue(s) of the service providers providing those services to us).

    Figure 4.3 in that book shows services A thru E as being in both catalogues. "Supporting services" are listed in the same line as "hardware' etc - they are just components. We no more detail the supporting services in a TSC than we detail the hardware - we just show the relationship.

    Finally, ITIL defines a service in many places as:
    "A means of delivering value to Customers by facilitating Outcomes Customers want to achieve without the ownership of specific Costs and Risks."

    Nothing there about "or a service we receive from our own suppliers, or a chunk of infrastructure the geeks want to label as an internal service so they don't have to think about customers any more"
  • eMeSeMeS Posts: 1,875Member
    You have your opinion and I have mine, but I think ITIL supports mine :D

    I counted a minimum of 4 others (all very seasoned) in that LI discussion, none of whom were me, who clearly countered your argument. I'll agree that not everyone claiming to be an "Expert" is, or has even read the books, but I'll go out on a limb and say that those guys are and have not only read, but understood the books and have successfully applied the material for their customers.

    Even funnier to me is that the quote you've used to support your position, is part of the very quote from the gospel of SD used to challenge your position in the LI discussion. It is:

    As you said it:

    "The Technical Service Catalogue: containing details of all the IT services delivered to the customer"
    Service Design 4.1.4.

    Those are therefore the SAME services as listed in the BSC

    It goes on to say

    "...together with relationships to the supporting services, shared services, components and CIs necessary to support the provision of the service
    to the business. "

    However, for whatever reason you've chosen to omit the key statement that is at the very end of that paragraph:

    This should underpin the Business Service Catalogue and not form part of the customer view.

    Not to mention the several paragraphs before discussing such things as a hierarchy of services and the two catalogues working together.

    Enough said, I feel like given the preponderance of evidence from SD and the aforementioned expert weigh-ins, the point has been made.

    If the debate is actually about inter-ITIL consistency and this is the hill you're planting your flag on, then I don't think you really have a debate. There is clearly much confusion throughout the books that needs to be addressed.
    Finally, ITIL defines a service in many places as:
    "A means of delivering value to Customers by facilitating Outcomes Customers want to achieve without the ownership of specific Costs and Risks."

    Nothing there about "or a service we receive from our own suppliers, or a chunk of infrastructure the geeks want to label as an internal service so they don't have to think about customers any more"

    You've defined the generic term "service", with which I agree. What you're omitting is that ITIL in fact further qualifies the concept and defines the following:

    Business Service: An IT Service that directly supports a Business Process, as opposed to an Infrastructure Service, which is used internally by the IT Service Provider and is not usually visible to the Business.

    Technical Service: See Infrastructure Service.

    Infrastructure Service: An IT Service that is not directly used by the Business, but is required by the IT Service Provider so they can provide other IT Services. For example, directory services, naming services, or communication services.

    I suspect no amount of evidence, expert weigh-in, or ITIL minutia affects your opinion here, which seems to fit the definition of obstinance much more than skepticism.

    And also, cursed is he who makes me crack open an ITIL book on the weekend! :D

    MS
  • The IT SkepticThe IT Skeptic ■□□□□□□□□□ Posts: 7Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    yes indeed Juan quoted the same section of Service Design at me, which shows some people read the books and some people READ the books. it is true that ITIL is so ambiguous and inconsistent that it can be used to support any position, (much like an even more famous book that people quote to support them).

    I omitted the line "This should underpin the Business Service Catalogue and not form part of the customer view" not because I'm deliberately misquoting as you imply but because it was irrelevant. yes indeed the TSC is not for customer eyes, that's the whole point of it.

    i didn't want to get into hierarchy of services here, but it is a concept that you won't find in ITIL, not as it is used in the linkedin discussion. Every time we call something a "service" when it is an Underpinning Contract, a process, an activity, an organisational unit or a function, we take our collective eye off the one service that matters - the one delivered to the customer.

    read Service Strategy 5.5.4.1, especially the examples, where supporting services are clearly also services delivered to the customer, which are ancillary to the core services of the business. Note especially "Credit-processing...is not a supporting service to borrowers because they are not its users". Whereas Service Design is clearly using "supporting services" to refer to the geeky idea of inward-facing IT services invisible to the customer. The glossary attributes the term "supporting services" to Service Strategy and uses its definition "A Service that enables or enhances a Core Service" but then goes on to offer an example that obviously demonstrates the same misconception "For example a Directory Service or a Backup Service."

    if obstinacy means defending what you believe to be true, then I'm happy to be obstinate. I'm on record as having changed my mind often enough to know I'm not closed minded, and I've been right often enough to be confident of my knowledge of ITIL. My experience is on record here Rob England | Two Hills. it is not massive and I don't have a string of letters like you do, but it's enough that i'm not ashamed of it.

    I'm sorry i didn't realise correctness is defined by majority vote, especially when the voting is counted on vocal voices on a forum. Guess I better go watch American Idol then.
  • eMeSeMeS Posts: 1,875Member
    yes indeed Juan quoted the same section of Service Design at me, which shows some people read the books and some people READ the books. it is true that ITIL is so ambiguous and inconsistent that it can be used to support any position, (much like an even more famous book that people quote to support them).

    Although I don't find myself in agreement mostly with what I perceive as his approach, I'm confident that Juan understands the material, or did I misunderstand what you meant here?

    I'm curious though, what is the more famous book (I'm guessing you mean the Bible)?
    I omitted the line "This should underpin the Business Service Catalogue and not form part of the customer view" not because I'm deliberately misquoting as you imply but because it was irrelevant. yes indeed the TSC is not for customer eyes, that's the whole point of it.

    Actually that's not my implication. As far as I can tell you're not misquoting anything, nor did I say such.
    read Service Strategy 5.5.4.1, especially the examples, where supporting services are clearly also services delivered to the customer, which are ancillary to the core services of the business. Note especially "Credit-processing...is not a supporting service to borrowers because they are not its users". Whereas Service Design is clearly using "supporting services" to refer to the geeky idea of inward-facing IT services invisible to the customer. The glossary attributes the term "supporting services" to Service Strategy and uses its definition "A Service that enables or enhances a Core Service" but then goes on to offer an example that obviously demonstrates the same misconception "For example a Directory Service or a Backup Service."

    I don't exactly see the issue here. IMO this goes back to guidance in ITIL being often very situational. I've tried to see this from your viewpoint, but I'm not seeing how this supports your case. I'll read it again tomorrow with fresh eyes.
    if obstinacy means defending what you believe to be true, then I'm happy to be obstinate. I'm on record as having changed my mind often enough to know I'm not closed minded, and I've been right often enough to be confident of my knowledge of ITIL. My experience is on record here Rob England | Two Hills. it is not massive and I don't have a string of letters like you do, but it's enough that i'm not ashamed of it.

    It seems in the face of strong evidence to the contrary, and the opinions of several people with well-defined expertise who practice this for a living that you're unwilling to change your stance. That's all that's meant here by obstinate. One can be both obstinate and defend what they believe in. Skepticism however is not the same as obstinance. And I do agree with you; it's easy to support opposing viewpoints with ITIL.

    I don't know you personally, but from what I understand you're very experienced in this field. It's also obvious that you've read the core books critically, and not simply to pass a test. There are many people out there who've passed the tests and never cracked the core books.

    I'm sure if you wanted to you could have whichever of the certs you wanted. But as you know, the certs are only a small piece of the overall picture. Many people see certs as a way to get to some next level in their career. My take is that they are more a way of taking credit for the things you've already accomplished. I was involved in a piecemeal ITIL adoption for many years before I ever pursued any of the certs. Back in the old days of v2, there was actually an experience requirement for the manager cert (whether or not the training vendors actually validated it, who knows?)

    But guess what, the people who do get the certs, and have worked hard to earn them (particularly back in v2, at the manager level), and have worked with various organizations to adopt ITIL do likely know something about this stuff.

    I will point out that TE is a certification-focused board, but if the certs aren't important to you, then don't get them. Not intending to patronize, but you're still welcome here whether any certs are important to you or not. I do believe that if you were to delve into some of the other forums here you would find many people that are either just starting out or trying to break into IT. There are only a handful of people that participate here that have worked in the biz 20+ years and can offer that level of advice to people just starting out. Just for the record, and because you don't know me or where I've come from professionally, I started in the 80's working nights in a mainframe data center while attending college, and literally got very high on the ladder until at some point deciding to break out on my own.

    Indeed this is the most lively discussion we've had about ITIL that I can recall. The last one devolved into a discussion of automated fellatio machines, and there are a lot of "I need help with foundation" type threads here, so this is a welcome change.
    I'm sorry i didn't realise correctness is defined by majority vote, especially when the voting is counted on vocal voices on a forum.

    I don't think it is, and that's not what I said. Seriously, I'm from a state that elected Bush II as governor and then twice as president; how could majority vote be correct (or perhaps it actually was...)? It seems to me though that when several people with demonstrated experience and expertise are all saying the same things and providing evidence of such, that they're not the ones that are wrong.

    Enjoy American Idol....it's our biggest export at the moment!

    MS
  • The IT SkepticThe IT Skeptic ■□□□□□□□□□ Posts: 7Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    I enjoy your replies.

    I do get the opportunity to talk to some of the ITIL authors including both the books above (that's almost a namedrop but not quite). Next time I have one or more collared I'll try to get an authorative call on this :)

    Again, a half-dozen people on a forum who think different to me doesn't make me wrong, no matter how "experienced" they may be. I'll just say at least one of them has been clearly wrong in the past so it does happen. i don't believe anyone in that thread countered my basic arguments with fact or logic. Like this thread it is just opinion against opinion. I believe a reading of the texts and the basic principles of ITSM agree with me. You don't. We can't progress past that.

    As an experiment I have launched a poll on my blog The services CATALOGUED (not just mentioned) in ITIL Tech Service Catalogue are the same as those in the Business SC | The IT Skeptic
  • eMeSeMeS Posts: 1,875Member
    I do get the opportunity to talk to some of the ITIL authors including both the books above (that's almost a namedrop but not quite). Next time I have one or more collared I'll try to get an authorative call on this :)

    I'd be glad to hear it. And I hope that they'll make updates quickly and as necessary.

    What will be really funny is if (when) you get two wildly different answers from the authors.
    Again, a half-dozen people on a forum who think different to me doesn't make me wrong, no matter how "experienced" they may be. I'll just say at least one of them has been clearly wrong in the past so it does happen.

    Absolutely. I've had the same experience there and with the same people, and dare I say we're all wrong from time to time. Except for my wife.

    There's a foundation practice question very similar to this discussion that often sends students into a tailspin. Basically it asks the difference between technical and business services, and one of the answers offered is something like "they are the same only viewed from a different perspective". That's the wrong choice, but when I do a foundation class I usually see about 1/2 of the class pick that one....

    MS
  • The IT SkepticThe IT Skeptic ■□□□□□□□□□ Posts: 7Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    There is a philosophy of "outside-in", trying to get people to see IT as a black box, to focus first on what we achieve externally, i.e. on delivered service. This whole concept of services that a use can't see is a rot eating at the guts of IT. It is this mindset that ITSM is trying to eliminate. they each provide their bit in order to deliver a service to the customer. There is only one level of service and we all pull as a team to deliver it. This "I just stoke the boiler, don't ask me where we're sailing to" attitude is what got us into this mess. Everyone should have line-of-sight to the user.
    I still remember vividly talking to an HP Unix administrator in a bank who had no idea that the machines he tended ran the foreign exchange system.
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