Two-speed ITIL – what next?

My recent blog Is it time for a two-speed ITIL? seems to have generated a lot of interest. As well as a large number of replies on The ITSM Review site, there were many tweets and Facebook posts where a wide range of people offered their thoughts and opinions.

A variety of approaches

The overall consensus seems to be that we need a fast-moving online repository of up-to-date IT service management guidance. This repository must be moderated, to ensure the quality of the content, but the moderation should allow for a wide variety of different approaches to be published even if they are not yet considered to be best practice, and even if they contradict generally accepted best practice.

Can we get this off the starting blocks?

This should be part of ITIL

Some people agreed with me that it would be best if this repository is managed as part of the ITIL brand, but others seemed to think it would be better if it were completely separate. There are a number of reasons why I think we should first try to do this as part of ITIL:

  • ITIL has a worldwide reputation as a trusted source of best practice. People may be more likely to contribute content, and to find and use the content contributed by others, if it is seen to be related to ITIL
  • If a small group of ITSM people set up the repository then other people may be less included to contribute, and may choose to set up alternative sites of their own, this could lead to a situation where instead of working together to create value we compete for attention, distracting us from the more important things we should be doing
  • If the repository is part of ITIL then it will be able to provide valuable input to future publications, either as updates to the ITIL core publications or as new complementary publications. This will provide a means of progressing ideas from concept through wider publication to accepted best practice.

I will discuss this idea with the Cabinet Office to see if I can persuade them to make it happen. If they are willing to try this then I will do what I can to help it succeed, but if they don’t want to then I will look around for alternative ways we can make this happen.

A moderated community

I have been thinking about how this repository might work, and I think we should consider some of the following:

  • We must have a transparent governance process, with clear criteria for why contributions will or won’t be accepted
  • We need a fair approach to intellectual property rights, encouraging people to contribute material but making sure that others can reuse it without fear of copyright issues
  • Each contribution should have an associated discussion thread, so that people can help improve the content – either by making improvement suggestions or by reporting the results of their attempts to implement the ideas.
  • We need to decide how maintenance of each contribution will take place. Will new versions of a contribution require approval from the original author, or will there be a process for others to create and edit new versions?

What do you think?

What other features and governance principles do you think we should consider?

I have a daytime job, providing strategic ITSM consulting to HP customers, so I can’t arrange a meeting with the Cabinet Office for a few weeks. Once I have spoken to them I’ll let you all know the outcome.

Image credit: © mezzotint_fotolia –

13 thoughts on “Two-speed ITIL – what next?”

  1. I think that it could add a lot of value. I agree that it makes more sense for it to be planned to align with ITIL, rather than being a contradictory body of knowledge. The itSMF is currently going through a re-structuring process, but it might be a good thing for it to own the repository and contribute authors, editors, project managers, content experts and other expertise to the project – there are plenty of people with the skills in the chapters and, I think, lots of them would be keen to contribute.

    I’ve been championing the idea of a global ITSM repository for the itSMF for several years now. Technically it is feasible and not too expensive. Politically it has been much more difficult. With a specific initiative like this, and a number of the wealthy chapters eager to get involved in developing global IP that is valuable to the Service Management community, this might be the perfect time to get this going. I’d be very happy to work with enthusiastic members of other chapters to make this happen.

    Ownership of this IP by the Service Management community, rather than the UK government, would be a positive thing for many people, but a modus vivendi would have to be established between the itSMF, OGC and, probably, TSO. There’d be a lot of detail to work out, but it would be better, I think, to put proper effort into defining the requirements and designing the repository, than to rush off and start building something in isolation – isolated remains of similar project lie scattered about cyberspace rather unhappily.

    1. I do agree that this will need a lot of effort to get the Intellectual Property aspects right. We need something that works for us, the ITSM community, as well as for the owners of ITIL.

      I also agree that there is no point in rushing off to design a repository. The important aspects are requirements and governance. If we get those wrong then the whole thing will be a waste of time.

    2. Peter, you said:
      “I agree that it makes more sense for it to be planned to align with ITIL, rather than being a contradictory body of knowledge.”

      An important part of how a framework or Body of Knowledge grows and develops is understanding what needs to be addressed that isn’t currently being addressed. A key element of its lasting power is cultivating an understanding of how it fits with other relevant frameworks/bodies of knowledge/methods. None of these exist in a vacuum, as they all have one thing in common — a customer that wishes to derive value from them.

  2. Stuart,

    Many of the points you raise that would need addressing are those we looked at when Back2ITSM was in its infancy, the “we” being primarily the ITSMROW podcast team, SDI and itSMF UK. There are solutions to some, for instance adoption of a Creative Commons licence for the IP, but others are inherently problematic.

    There would also presumably be an impact on the plans for the commercial future of ITIL that were announced at itSMF12

    1. James,

      I realized, after writing this, that the original intent of #back2ITSM was very similar to this, but I don’t think it has achieved this purpose. I do think that the back2ITSM Facebook group and Google+ community are immensely valuable discussion forums but I don’t think they are structured appropriately for this purpose.

      I am hoping that I can get these ideas into the mix before the new “owners” of ITIL have formulated their strategy, maybe the worldwide community of ITIL and ITSM practitioners can influence the direction they decide to take ITIL.

  3. Stuart,

    I always
    thought the repository you refer to was to be part of v3, it certainly was in
    the early days to allow for expansion of ITIL into new areas, perhaps by
    sector, and for improvements to ITIL. Will the TSO not manage this complementary portfolio?

    1. My understanding of the ITIL complementary publications was that they would provide industry specific guidance and similar things, but that they would be regular paper publications and would not be intended to move service management on, but to show how ITIL could apply in different circumstances

  4. I am concerned that providing a knowledge base or management guidance will detract from ITIL being a framework whereby the user applies the solution to fit the circumstances. ITIL works and has positive brand strength for the simple reason it is a framework allowing a cut and dice approach rather than fixed menu.
    Conceptually the idea is interesting although it would need effective control to keep it relevant and accurate, that involves cost and time. While areas like the many and various WiKi style sites and the countless ITSM XXX web pages attempt this, they are seldom current or, they are locked into the mantra of that information provider / organisation / sponsor.
    Governance as you state will be a challenge and the governance body needs to be representative of the user community and that is the challenge; how do you pick a cross section that is not just the perceived elite or an old school club?
    Will be following this with interest

    1. Juim,

      I think you have identified the major issue that would need to be addressed for this to succeed. I have no clear idea of how we could make governance of this work, but I would love to see it based on an inclusive approach that encourages many people to contribute.

  5. This is a good conversation to pursue, but I think that there are some things that require close attention — specifically around how the future of the framework is managed. The 2011 update demonstrated that there is no functioning means to evaluate stakeholder concerns and ensure that these were adequately addressed by the authors. I think this should more closely resemble how standards bodies operate. If ITIL is going to remain relevant, it has to be managed beyond the brand.

  6. Is this not a perfect example to demonstrate the best form of knowledge management. A living and breathing structured body of knowledge?

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