Monday, December 28, 2009

MOF: Are you another ITIL Lemming? Get MOFFED here!

Are you another ITIL Lemming? Get MOFFED here!

A subjective view on the Microsoft Operational Framework (MOF v4)


In a Universe filled with twinkling stars, new stars are born every second. Some literally shine for billions of years – including our own small yellow Sun – others only shine for a fraction of this time and go out with a gigantic bang, or die without a making a single sound. In an industry filled with frameworks, methods and best practices we seem to be able to observe a similar pattern. Some frameworks make it to the top and become accepted as the norm, other frameworks are struggling for a place of existence and may eventually get there, or just vanish from the stage altogether leaving not a single sound or trace of evidence behind. One framework that doesn’t seem willing to take either side of these extreme positions is the Microsoft Operational Framework, or in short “MOF”. It just sits there comfortably in the twilight zone not striving to shine, but also not twitching a single muscle telling us it’s going to leave the stage any time soon. I guess it’s time to put MOF in the spotlights, to understand its twilight position a bit better and gaining a better understanding and knowledge of its place and value amongst the plethora of frameworks, methods and best practices.


The Microsoft Operational Framework (MOF) goes back quite a number of years, at least 10 that I personally have some knowledge of. MOF has seen quite a number of transformations in the last decade, and just like many other frameworks has adopted a flexible organic life-cycle approach to planning, delivering, operating and managing IT services and its supporting IT infrastructure.

The goal of MOF is: "To provide guidance to IT organizations to help them create, operate, and support IT services while ensuring that the investment in IT delivers expected business value at an acceptable level of risk." [1.0 MOF Overview].

I guess this goal should look pretty much ‘standard’ for those already familiar with frameworks like ITIL and CobiT. Like most other (IT) Service Management frameworks the words ‘guidance’, ‘value’, ‘expected’, and ‘risk’ also take pivotal positions in MOF’s overall architecture. So, does MOF make a difference, does it deserve a place in (IT) Service Management framework Universe? I believe the answer to be ‘yes’, otherwise I wouldn’t be spending my time and energy writing this article. Get yourself another cup of coffee, or tea, or something stronger (commonly known as energy drinks) and read on, as you’re about to enter the Doctor’s space/time machine!


I’ll have to admit that Dr. Who’s TARDIS is a fantastic machine that somehow also got stuck in Service Management Space; hence we’re discussing “Time And Relative Dimensions In Service Management Space” – or short TARDISMS. A quick count of Service Management related frameworks and methods gave me the number 42 – okay maybe a little bit less, but 31 doesn’t seem to sound quite right and as much fun as the number 42. After all, 42 is the ‘only’ answer to Life, the Universe and everything else [The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams]. Although Microsoft (read one of their operations consulting leads) seems to place frameworks like MOF, CobiT, and ITIL in the same dimension, I personally have to disagree with this picture. In my opinion CobiT is mainly about answering the question “what” needs to be done, MOF drifts in the twilight zone of “what/how” and as far as I’m concerned ITIL basically still dominates the “how” dimension. Sorry ITIL! Yeah, I know, a lot of you will disagree with me here, but I like heated discussions. Overarching it all sits ISO/IEC 20000 which simply says “thou shall” and takes a similar position as Star Trek’s famous ‘Q’ space.

You feel lost? That’s perfectly natural, as this is exactly what’s happening in (IT) Service Management space as we speak. Once upon a time (indeed a very long time ago) we all spoke the same language, and all followed the same framework called Total Quality Management (TQM), then this guy called Nimrod came along and spoiled the game for everyone. Doesn’t “Nimrod” sound exactly like some type of acronym or mnemonic dug up from a prehistoric opal mine? Well, with some imagination it does... to me... it does... it really does... really!

Simplicity and complexity

I keep saying to most people around me: “less is more” and this is precisely where I derive the main benefits from Microsoft’s Operational Framework. Whereas most frameworks and methods praise themselves on the high number of areas, clusters, processes, stages, functions, roles and God knows what else, MOF takes the easy route, and I like that – a lot! Surely everyone must agree with me that ITIL has become way too academic in its language, and any person with an IQ of more than your average baboon will either read some ITIL summaries or follow a distance education course. Not many sane people are going to read the full ITIL books or sit the new ITIL v3 classroom delivered courses, but some may pick up (or rather download for free) MOF as it’s relatively easy to follow, seems to make a lot of ‘practical’ sense and most importantly of all uses a nice and very consistent structure in all its documents. This is definitely an area where ITIL has dropped the ball. I still can’t make head nor tail of ITIL’s structure. It all seems a bit messy and incomplete. Maybe that’s why ITIL is talking ITIL v3 Refresh Refresh (no, I’m not stuttering). I guess they – read OGC/APMG – may get it right eventually, but some other frameworks and methods are currently in hot pursuit, so better get your act together and do it fast, because many professionals are getting tired of wasting 1000s of dollars on something that’s of a less than average quality.

It’s elementary my dear Watson!

So, what’s MOF? Well, basically it’s a collection of Word and Excel documents that are freely down-loadable from Microsoft has even made the job extremely easy for us as you can select the one-click download, after which Bob somehow seems to become your uncle again. Uncle-Bob-space seems to have an unlimited supply of Uncle Bobs! Anyway, the MOF documents are properly ordered in dot-zero versions (phase docs) and dot-sequence-number versions (service management functions).

Here’s the full list of phase docs and service management functions (SMF) docs:

1.0 MOF Overview
2.0 Plan Overview
2.1 Business IT Alignment SMF
2.2 Reliability SMF
2.3 Policy SMF
2.4 Financial Management SMF
3.0 Deliver Overview
3.1 Envision SMF
3.2 Project Planning SMF
3.3 Build SMF
3.4 Stabilize SMF
3.5 Deploy SMF
4.0 Operate Overview
4.1 Operations SMF
4.2 Service Monitoring and Control SMF
4.3 Customer Service SMF
4.4 Problem Management SMF
5.0 Manage Overview
5.2 Change and Configuration SMF
5.3 Team SMF
6.0 MOF 4.0 Glossary
7.0 Mapping of MOF Versions (Excel spreadsheet)

The good thing about this structure is the alignment with for example the MOF Foundation Exam, in which you can basically get away with reading the MOF Overview and the four dot-zero phase documents. Furthermore this structure allows for separation of those stakeholders that only need a high level overview of MOF and its potential (dot-zero docs) and those that require more detailed insight and knowledge of MOF (dot-sequence number docs). Personally I believe this is a very strong feature of MOF as it supports an approach where you only have to read the documentation on a need-to-know basis. Have fun reading those 2,000 pages of ITIL v3, I rather read 100 pages of MOF thank you very much! Providing information on a need-to-know basis is definitely a factor that can help speeding up adoption, adaption and use of MOF within the business and IT environment.

After a 3-day public ITIL v3 Foundation course many students provide feedback in the form of “too much content for 3 days” and “my brains feel numb”. In contrast MOF provides feedback like “enlightening” and “seems quite practical and common sense”. You draw your own conclusion! Personally, I can only say that I’m glad I’m in a position where I have a lot more time to convey my ITIL v3 knowledge and skills using a system of distance education principles combined with academic resources (see and I don’t like marketing, but distance education (in the right format) works so much better than public classroom “crammed” training!

Please note that the MOF v4 one-click-download is just one of the many resources that are currently part of MOF-download-space. If you’re after quick start guides, action plans, ISO/IEC 20000 integration documents, or other cross integration guides, then those are also available and – best of all – free!

Hyperspace, subspace, wormholes and travelers

In my humble opinion MOF consists of (thank you: “only”) four key parts, which are phases (hyperspace), service management functions (subspace), management reviews (wormholes) and roles (travelers). Yeah, I know, I’m a geek and love science fiction, but somehow making these silly analogies helps me to remember stuff, as the soggy brains aren’t getting any younger.

The four key phases have 3 tangible “real” dimensions known as “Plan”, “Deliver” and “Operate”. The 4th dimension behaves more like our dimension “time” and is tightly interwoven with these other three more tangible dimensions, and is known as the “Manage” phase.

MOF is like a game, and you’re only allowed to move from one dimension to the next using wormholes, oops, I meant to say “management reviews”. The picture below is mind-boggling simple, yet extremely powerful, as it makes you understand MOF in the wink of an eye. For example it’s telling me that I can’t start building stuff, as long as my project plan is not properly approved as part of a “project plan approved management review” exercise. Well hey, that makes sense, as we need to make sure out project objectives are adding value to the business, are cost-justifiable, and risk managed, hereby taking into consideration and evaluating items like functional specification, master project plan and master project schedule. Whereas ITIL v3 talks Service Transition, MOF simply talks Project Management. I believe MOF is on the right track here, as I’ve always considered ITIL’s Change and Release-and-Deployment Management as Project Management sub-processes/activities in disguise. Why make it complex if you can keep it simple? MOF keeps it simple!

Source: MOF v4 (

Where was I? Oh, yes, subspace and travelers. It may be clear from the picture above that MOF identifies a number of Service Management Functions (SMFs) for each of the MOF life-cycle phases. For example the phase “Operate” covers the Service Management Functions “Operations”, “Service Monitoring and Control”, “Customer Service”, and “Problem Management”. Each of the Service Management Functions is explained high-level in the dot-zero documents and in detail in the dot-sequence-number documents, and believe me there’s a lot of detail provided that’s missing in other – some say more popular – frameworks . All the work-flows that seem to be missing (lacking) in ITIL v3 are provided as part of MOF, so if you don’t know where to start with ITIL, then MOF provides a fantastic alternative framework or can (simply) be used as add-on/plug-in to ITIL, CobiT or any of the others. I rate MOF’s tangibility factor to be quite high, and surely that must be one of the weakest factors in most other service management frameworks. MOF seems to exist on a plane between framework and method, and hence takes more than one twilight position in the realm of service management space. It sits there, and for now, lonely, uniquely, and somewhat distantly (is distantly actually a word?).

MOF-space is filled with travelers, I mean people actually performing the various MOF related activities. Whereas most of these people actually travel, they move from one position to the next, MOF roles don’t. Roles describe packages of activities with related responsibilities, accountability, authorities and dependencies. So travelers with the right skills, knowledge and attitude can simply step into a role that fits them best – enjoy the scenery and all those touristic activities – perform a well registered hand-over (well, at least describe their journey on face book) and move on to better places. I guess I’m saying that roles create the basis for consistent high-level quality processes without the organization being fully dependent on so called “irreplaceable” individuals in the organization.

Everyone is replaceable, absolutely everyone! We all die one day, the world will keep spinning, the Universe will keep expanding and cooling down, so get your roles and processes in place, and the organization will live to see another day! Sorry for being so blunt – it’s my Dutch heritage – something I can’t seem to get rid of. MOF roles rock! They really do. Somehow I would like to combine CobiT’s ARCI (Who’s Accountable, Responsible, Consulted, and Informed) charts with MOF’s role descriptions and the world would become a far better – more organized – place. Surely functions and roles must be ITIL’s weakest point, if not the single point of failure. Most organizations that I’ve seen have no issues whatsoever developing ITIL processes; they have issues assigning the various activities to roles and functions. It’s often not what needs to be done, but who is actually doing it where a lot of ITIL implementation pain is felt. MOF creates a whole lot more clarity – approximately 2 Universes in size – when it comes to mapping roles to processes. That’s another chicken in the basket for MOF (I so like the Muppets:

Inflation and deflation

It is dark matter and dark energy that will either keep the Universe in a state of never-ending inflation, or the whole thing will start collapsing again and we’ll all end up in the big-crunch – I mean really, really big – in which case you can say bye-bye to all your Bermuda holidays. I guess something similar applies to all service management frameworks, including MOF. Either the total mass of benefits outweighs the total mass of potential issues, in which case there’s enough reason for MOF to maintain its own unique position in service management space, or too many issues cause the framework to die a slow or less painful sudden death. MOF has definitely many strong benefits, of which ease of use, quick ROI and low TCO, its life-cycle approach, its great structure, its simplicity, its project focus, and its practical focus are just some of the main ones. So why is MOF still relatively unknown outside of Microsoft’s empire? I guess there are three main reasons that may explain this phenomenon. The first one is the perception that MOF is yet another go of Microsoft to rule this tiny world we all live on. I don’t believe this to be true, rather I believe that MOF is a sincere attempt of Microsoft to add needed structure and processes to the plethora of IT they’ve made and are still making available to the world. Managing complex IT environments needs a structured approach supported and surrounded with the right process and people. If IT fails, then who gets all the blame? MOF is a form of risk mitigation that Microsoft has put in place. With the right people (roles) and processes in place IT will fail less, and hence Microsoft gets a better name in the market! The second reason is ITIL’s dominant position in today’s IT environment, but it doesn’t mean it’s the best stuff around. They were the first to market and had a great marketing machine behind them, called Government. I guess it’s a bit like VHS and Beta-max, and we all know that Beta-max was quality-wise way ahead of VHS, and look what’s happening to all your VHS tapes right now. I believe the third and final reason to be the most challenging one and this is also related to our VHS analogy. Assuming we’re all taping on VHS (yeah sure...) then why would I invest in yet another technology? I already speak the VHS language and already have quite a lot of VHS (ITIL) skills and knowledge. This creates a real dilemma!

MOF has adopted a language that is very different from ITIL’s Esperanto, but that doesn’t make the ITIL Esperanto any better, or does it? I guess it’s always possible to map MOF’s peculiar language to ITIL’s peculiar language. Where MOF talks ‘Customer Service’ we can still talk ‘Service Desk’ in our organization, but use the plethora of processes and work-flows that MOF offers to us. Be aware that ITIL also keeps changing its language, so who is to say they are right and MOF is wrong. ITIL’s Help-desk is now a Service Desk, but MOF actually talks Customer Service, which is way better aligned with the core principles of Total Quality Management (TQM).

I guess MOF has more to offer than most organizations (read senior managers) are aware of. After breaking down the walls of perception, the garden that’s called MOF is actually quite a nice one and a lot easier (and cheaper) to maintain than ITIL’s garden.

So, what’s next?

This question is actually more difficult to answer than it seems. Assuming the organization is aware it needs to change, it needs more structure, it needs processes, and potentially has many more reasons to adopt and embrace a service management framework, be it MOF or framework X, I would visit two similar organizations – one using MOF, the other using framework X – and have an in-depth chat with management. Look at items like Return on Investment (ROI), Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), ease-of-implementation, ease-of-cultural adaption and adoption, transparency (business to IT and vice verse), and overall integration with other business-and-IT processes and systems. Sounds like quite a lot of work huh? I never promised it would be easy, but throwing away millions of dollars on a less than optimal framework ‘solution’ is also quite painful.

Anyway, you can always start to download the free MOF framework and start flicking through some of the pages, follow a 2 or 3 day course with a provider that actually knows what they’re talking about (make sure they’re ITIL, MOF, CobiT, and ISO20K certified so they actually understand the differences and benefits of each of these so called ‘solutions’) or best of all just visit an organization that actually uses MOF or uses framework X with MOF add-ons. As long as there’s a clear and valid reason to change, doing anything is better than sitting on your bum!


In a Universe filled with twinkling stars, new stars are born every second. Stars follow a life-cycle of which many span billions of years, some only last a few million. IT services also follow a life-cycle and move from planning to delivery through to operations. At some stage, when the IT service is no longer deemed valuable to the business – it also – reaches its end. The Microsoft Operational Framework (MOF) can be compared to a practical almost ‘turn-key’ IT service management solution which allows you to manage the life-cycle of your IT services so optimal benefits can be harvested, minimal investments have to made, and risk is managed to acceptable and agreed levels. It all sounds almost too good to be true! I challenge you: seriously consider the many valuable aspects of MOF and don’t become another ITIL lemming!

Live long and prosper

Nanoo... Nanoo...


Saturday, November 21, 2009

ITIL: The Hitchhiker's Guide to ITIL - Introduction

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to ITIL – EXAM Preparation Guide

Part II of too many ...

So, what is this ITIL thing doing in my back garden?

The Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) is a set of five books (not including “The Official Introduction to the ITIL Service Lifecycle”, which would make it six) that focuses on the management of an IT infrastructure (bits and pieces that process zeros and ones) using a combination of good, better, and best practices.

ITIL provides you with a whole bunch of processes, functions, roles and other service related components that your organization should consider having in place for efficient and effective delivery and support of IT services to your customers.

The ITIL framework is not more and not less than a big, mind-boggling big, set of books. Personally I refer to them as volumes, as this makes more sense when referring to a library. It’s a set of collected good practices and ideas sourced from various public and private based organizations, many of course being operational themselves in service support and service delivery space.

ITIL has received an almost magical (Deity-like) status over the last couple of decades, but in reality it provides you with nothing more and nothing less than the ability to perform a rough-cut sanity and reality check of how well you're managing your IT infrastructure, but guess what, this happens to be exactly what so many organizations seem to need. Something that allows them answering the question:

"What are we doing right, what are we doing wrong and where should we start improving the delivery and support of our IT services, so we can provide maximum value to our customers?"

The librarian is on the move again!

Definition of a "Library": “A place in which literary and artistic materials, such as books, periodicals, newspapers, pamphlets, prints, records, and tapes, are kept for reading, reference, or lending.” Source:

So, ITIL is the place where we store and maintain today's good practices for where it relates to managing an IT infrastructure in an efficient and effective manner. What's the best way to manage IT and deliver and support IT services to our customers? Well, ITIL answers a large chuck of this question!

The initial library (ITIL v1) that consisted of dozens of books (some say 48, but I prefer the number 42) was published late 80s, with a lot of support from large IT companies (e.g. IBM, EDS, CSC, etc.). The newer revised library (ITIL v2) was released late 90s and currently has 9 volumes in it. The latest release (ITIL v3) contains (as it stands) six volumes: Service Strategy, Service Design, Service Transition, Service Operation, Continual Service Improvement, and The Official Introduction to the ITIL Service Lifecycle. The first five volumes are also referred to as the ITIL Core Set, and really make up ITIL v3.

It seems that ITIL revisions have a 10 year refreshment cycle, which means that studying and certifying in ITIL creates long term business and personal benefits, whereas studying for something like a more technical certification scheme has a lifetime of say roughly 18 months (if not superseded earlier). This makes answering the question: “ITIL WIIFM (What’s In It For Me)?” relatively easy. The demand for ITIL (fully interchangeable with Service Management) expertise has been steadily on the increase since ITIL’s inception, and more and more companies are making ITIL certification a prerequisite when employing new staff or career-guiding existing staff.

What do Norwich and Greenwich have in common?

Time starts in Greenwich, but ITIL starts in Norwich! ITIL is developed and maintained by the Office of Government Commerce (OGC), located in the United Kingdom (Norwich, Norfolk)(also see Initially it was developed as a guidance/framework to support UK government in doing their business more successfully using fewer resources and creating better results. It was such a success in government that it was soon to become adopted by private organizations and is currently used worldwide as the most successful guidance to setup and maintain IT infrastructures.

Before OGC was known as OGC it was known as CCTA; the Central Computing and Telecommunications Agency. Therefore the older ITIL books will carry the CCTA name and not the OGC name. Please realize it is the same organization – well – almost that is. If there’s anyone out there with old ITIL v1 books I’m more than happy to receive them, being a weird collector myself. Some people collect stamps – it seems this author collects IT Service Management memorabilia and artifacts. Yeah, I know, it's weird, very weird!

Framework versus Standard

ITIL is a framework; it is not and will never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, become a methodology. It is a flexible, tailorable, twistable, bendable, tweak-able, customizable (I ran out of words here) set of guidelines and extremely useful (if not mind-boggling fantastic and sometimes incredible) ideas. It is based upon proven good and world's best practices. It is not a theoretical bookwork written by an ninety-five year old professor that works in a dusty corner of a long forgotten part of a mostly unseen University (read Terry Pratchett), but it’s based on current work practices.

Even if you decide to use only one third of a page of one of the many ITIL volumes to make a small business or IT improvement, then you are still using ITIL. ITIL is not about quantity, ITIL is about quality! Believe me, a lot of organizations don't get this and believe they have to implement all of ITIL at once.

You can never be fully compliant to ITIL, but you can sure try to be compatible to the framework. For all those organizations out there calling themselves ITIL compliant, or calling their tools ITIL compliant: “You’re just being plain silly!”

There’s no such thing as being ITIL compliant. You cannot be compliant to a highly dynamic and customizable framework, but you can be compliant to a standard like ISO/IEC 20000. Compatible to ITIL? Yes! Compliant to ITIL? No! Only organizations (or parts thereof - depending on the agreed scope) can become "fully" compliant (read officially accredited by an certified auditing organization) to the ISO/IEC 20000 standard, unfortunately there is as yet no international accepted standard to benchmark ITSM tools (ITSM tool-sets) against, although some proprietary services are offered.

ITIL is not a bible (although some seem to think it is); it’s a tool to long lasting success, and the volumes, once thoroughly read, can also make your desk stop wobbling, depending under which leg you put them.

ITIL is not a destination, but a journey to success! Sounds like a load of waffle? Yes, it does, but does this really matter if it allows you to save your sanity, valuable dollars, and sometimes even your business?

ITIL provides you with a checklist of what and what not to do, and who really cares where the information comes from when it prevents you from making costly mistakes and reinventing wheels?

The fairy tale of the ITIL out-of-the-box implementation

There is no such thing as the ITIL implementation! An ITIL implementation will depend on many factors such as politics, stakeholders, support, complexity, size, attitude, geography, technology, people, goals, time, commitment, vision, involvement, quick wins, roadblocks, resources available (especially money) and much, much more within an organization. In other words: “IT DEPENDS!” Where Douglas Adam uses the words “DON’T PANIC!” on his Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, I would like to print or at least you, the reader, to visualize the words “IT DEPENDS!” on a sparkling glittering cover of this Hitchhiker’s Guide to ITIL.

Don’t expect ITIL to be your own personal Oracle, as it will not give you all the answers you’ll be looking for, and definitely does not go into a whole lot of details. ITIL is relatively high-level – the detailed design and implementation, well my dear reader, that’s your own challenge!

Building your own house

Just like a house needs sewerage, foundation, walls and a roof. Information Technology (IT) needs planning, support and proper understanding of services that are delivered to the customers and users. Although all houses need a front-door (Service Desk), you can still decide on the color, material and size of that door. In other words, ITIL gives you the framework/skeleton/coat-hanger and you fill in the details based upon your own specific requirements and personal preferences. The framework is always the same, the differences exist in the interpretation and implementation of the framework.

Some organizations like Microsoft have already filled in many of these details for a specific Microsoft Windows environment and have called their specific ITIL interpretation the Microsoft Operations Framework (MOF). Nowadays most large IT organizations (read vendors/suppliers) offer their tailored versions of ITIL as one of their value-adding services.

Please realize that these tailored versions will not always match your specific needs and may not be suitable in cross-platform environments. ITIL is typically used as the overarching umbrella framework on which all tailored Service Management versions depend on for their existence. It’s like the queen-ant (I told you before I like crawling critters), which has lots and lots of offspring, or maybe you can refer to it as the Rosetta stone, as it allows you to translate business best practices to your organization.

Everyone should speak Dutch!

ITIL puts a lot of emphasis on using the right terminology and definitions. It makes it a lot easier if we all speak the same language. There is a huge difference between Customers and Users, and Incidents and Problems. We do need to get the terminology and definitions right in order to prevent Babylonian speech. We don’t have a universal translation device, such as the Babel fish that you can simply stick in your ear, or some high tech Star Trek device that will translate from Martian into an Arabic language (although it seems these devices are currently becoming available), so we must somehow agree on the language we use within IT management space.

This is exactly one of the many spots where ITIL fits in, and it might be the very reason why you are reading this manual at this very moment in space and time. This guide contains the most important ITIL terminology and definitions you will need to know of to pass your ITIL Foundation Exam. Let’s all start to communicate more effectively and efficiently by using the same IT language: the ITIL language.

“Ik kan natuurlijk ook lekker Nederlands gaan tikken, maar dat werkt niet zo goed als jullie moedertaal engels is!” (Translating this is your homework for tonight)

Of course personally I don't exactly understand why many of these so called frameworks based on good, better and best practices keep changing some of the core terminology and language. It seems many just need to find a reason to flog their latest books to the public in order to maintain their very existence. This is wrong and should not be allowed to happen. If a common language is accepted by the public, and there is no need to change, then it should not be changed.

Processes, Functions, and Roles

ITIL is mainly process based, not functional, although ITIL (especially in version 3) also seems to cover some basic functions. Processes are typically (but not always have to be) cross-functional; it’s rather rare for a full process to reside in one function, although this occasionally occurs (especially in smaller IT organizations).

When establishing processes people in various functions (business units) will have to come down from their ivory towers and will have to start working together to make something happen (i.e. manufacturing an airplane). Let’s all work together sounds pretty straightforward and the common sense thing to do, but what’s common sense to most people, is commonly not done at all! We all “love, admire and respect” our colleagues, now don’t we?

A process is an example of a closed-loop system because it provides change and transformation towards a goal and utilises feedback for self-reinforcing and self-corrective action. It’s measurable, it provides specific results, it has customers, and it responds to a specific event. It’s the stuff that’s set in action and delivers something to someone. It the stuff we do to achieve things!

The following 5 ITIL core volumes are discussed in this summary:
  • Service Strategy

  • Service Design

  • Service Transition

  • Service Operation

  • Continual Service Improvement

It's all about synergy

All ITIL processes have strong relationships with all the other ITIL processes, and all ITIL functions have strong relationships with all the other ITIL functions. Synergy will occur when these relationships are fine-tuned to the specific conditions of the organization where ITIL is implemented.

None of the ITIL processes or functions will perform optimally in isolation: the sum of all functions and processes integrated is larger than all individual functions or processes implemented in isolation.

So, ITIL is about creating synergy! It’s a buzzword, but it’s definitely true. ITIL is all about creating synergy.

Friction and overlap

The ITIL processes are like tectonic plates. Sometimes they nicely connect with each other, sometimes they overlap without too much friction and sometimes they collide with heaps of friction, and cause an organizational earthquake. By assigning the proper roles and responsibilities to the appropriate people and exercising monitoring and control, friction can be kept to an absolute minimum.

However an organization without friction doesn’t exist – that’s stuff for fantasy stories! It’s the ability to recognize friction and dealing accordingly with it that separates an effective and efficient organization from an immature organization.

Efficiency and effectiveness

So, what are efficiency and effectiveness?
  • Efficiency: Achieving an outcome using minimal resources (time, money, materials, and people)! Doing things right! Sending an email to someone is typically a lot more efficient (faster) than using the manual and labor intensive postal services (hence the terminology snail-mail).

  • Effectiveness: The ability to achieve outcome! Doing the right things! Selling a blue car to someone who is actually after a pushbike is not very effective.

ITIL's value

ITIL is all about
  • increasing quality of services

  • managing (if possible decreasing) the costs of delivering these services and

  • ensuring that the services are aligned with the business needs and (future) business direction.

This is in a nutshell what ITIL all comes back to, it is fundamental, it is core to ITIL, and written between all the lines in the ITIL books! It is also the reason why so many organizations worldwide have embraced ITIL and are currently reaping its benefits. It's basically using the principles of Total Quality Management (TQM), but this time giving it the name ITIL and focusing more on the integration of TQM and the IT environment.

Can you afford not managing your IT infrastructure?

The continuous improvement of quality of services is safeguarded when Dr. W. Edwards Deming’s model of continuous quality improvement or total quality management (TQM) is followed. Dr. W. Edwards Deming ( tells us we should Plan first, Do the things we have planned, Check (monitor/measure) whether or not we’re doing the right things (effective), and things right (efficient), and if not take appropriate corrective action (Act). These four key activities (Plan, Do, Check and Act) should be carefully monitored using internal (self-assessments) or external quality reviews (audits) and supported with the right standards, policies, process descriptions, procedures, work instructions, and job descriptions (Quality Assurance).

Formalized standards are available to gauge and benchmark (compare to other organizations) your IT Service Management’s maturity.

These standards are known as:
  • BS15000 (UK)

  • AS8018/BS15000 (Australia) and

  • ISO/IEC 20000 (Global).

Again, you cannot be compliant to ITIL, as ITIL is only a set of good, if not excellent, ideas, but you can be compliant to a recognized IT Service Management standard, such as ISO/IEC 20000. Many tool providers claim they are compliant to ITIL – I guess some of them don’t really get the picture that ITIL is a framework and not a standard. Your tools are compatible with the framework's ideas, but they're not compliant and will never be.

The journey

Short-term, the road to pure vanilla-cream ITIL can be perceived to be too time-consuming, expensive, bureaucratic, curved, filled with roadblocks and painful, but medium to long-term it almost always turns into a success where all the painful obstacles will belong to history and real benefits will be visible, measurable and tangible, to all involved.

When embarking on the ITIL journey, it is not the cobbled road we travel on, but the divine destination that should drive our motivation and passion. Sounds a bit heavy doesn’t it? Just start to use ITIL and you will see what’s meant with this statement.

Okay, enough now! Let’s start to look at ITIL v3 in more detail.

Live long and prosper

Nanoo... Nanoo...


ITIL ® is a Registered Trade Mark, and a Registered Community Trade Mark of the Office of Government Commerce, and is registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

ITIL: The Hitchhiker's Guide to ITIL - Preface

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to ITIL – EXAM Preparation Guide

Part I of too many ...

It is not the strongest of the species that survive, or the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to Change. This must be true, as indeed, we as human species do not seem to be most intelligent, and we do seem to change our minds roughly every 4.2 nanoseconds.

Charles Darwin (a very funny guy with a beard)

It Depends!

Okay, long awaited and finally here! Get yourself a comfortable chair, two bags of chips, a diet-coke, your reading glasses, and a truck filled with enthusiasm, motivation, good sense of humour (you’ll need it) and at least a reasonable amount of passion for IT Service Management. Sit back and immerse yourself in the 3rd and a wee-bit dimension – the dimension that is called ITIL (by some). Your sanity may depend on it, and you may just be in time to catch the 9:25 from London to Amsterdam. And no, most coffee shops in Amsterdam do not serve any coffee. They serve grass, and not to cows for that matter. The latter all became a bit mad.

This document can be used as a reference guide or study tool when preparing for the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) Foundation Exam. It can also be used as paperweight, wall-paper, ammunition, campfire fuel, nutrition, candy, drawing paper for the kiddies, table-leg anti-wobbling device, and I’m sure all the secrets of the Multiverse will be hidden in the text in some sort of alien language (Daleks and the Borg are extremely likely to be involved) – you just have to look long enough – I mean r e a l l y, r e a l l y, r e a l l y, l o n g ....

The ITIL Code

Surely someone on this crowded planet is currently writing “The ITIL Code” which will reveal the true location of the Holy Grail, alter Earth’s rotation, or beam us all to a small magical Chinese shop selling Gremlins and the like. This guide is fun, and I guess that’s why so many organisations are so desperately trying to copy it. Yes, especially you out there, so called public training providers – go and create your own courseware please, and start using your own brains.

Some organisations also refer to the ITIL Foundation Exam as ITIL Essentials Exam or ITIL Fundamentals Exam. We’ll stick to the first one: ITIL Foundation Exam. So, for those who didn’t immediately get the message: “It’s a Foundation Guide” and this means it doesn’t go into all those details you may well be looking for, although personally I have all intention to go a bit beyond the current ITIL exam syllabus, as it seems to be getting easier and easier all the time, which makes me wonder of the actual value of any ITIL v3 certification that’s out there. Any 12 year old kid should be able to pass the ITIL v3 Foundation exam that’s based on the exam syllabus v4.2. Fortunately they (I mean those 12 year old kids) have something better to do, like playing World of Warcraft (boys) or checking out the boys playing WoW (girls).


Anyway you will not need to stick a Babel-fish in your ear to understand the ITIL language, although they are very nice creatures, just a wee bit temperament-full . This document will be clear (well - hopefully to some of you), concise and mainly in English. The author has a Swiss-Dutch-Polish-Australian background and hence, is totally and utterly confused. Translations in Martian, Arabic, Hebrew, and other more Earth like languages will be available on request. Translation time is exactly 42 years, 42 minutes and 42 seconds, and all requests for translation will need to be submitted in tenfold to Harry Potter himself, as he seems to receive quite a lot of mail delivered by those mutated corkscrew-head pigeons called owls. Yes, you’ve guessed it right: the answer is always 42 – the question itself is irrelevant. We so called IT Service Management consultants like to provide answers and solutions and rarely listen to the question anyway. Be aware of any organisation that starts with "we are a leading provider". If they were we would already know it, and hence they must be lying to you!

This document is not intended to cover the full ITIL Foundation course as provided by me or any of my partners, although it is getting pretty close and hopefully better each time it is revised (also a bit longer and maybe even a bit funnier). You will need to follow the online distance education course on SecondLife or with any respected university out there (e.g. Charles Sturt University), to reap the full benefits that such a, educational session has to offer.

Make sure you drink lots of coffee (and if possible something a lot stronger) before attending classes with any public training provider. Classroom based training provides you with the opportunity to punch the instructor on the nose in the event you don’t like him or her. Extensive research has proven that "the punching on the nose" may work quite well for those in stress. The punch is also considered the only advantage of classroom based training.

What the heck happened to the Information bit!

ITIL is all about People, Processes, Products, and since ITIL version 3 also about Partners (the Quad-P balance). I wonder what happened to the Information bit in ITIL! You won’t meet other people or hear the stories of their products by reading this document only. You’ve got to meet people in real, shake their hands, and kiss them on the cheeks (keep punching those trainers on the nose). If you’re in a public training course where you feel you’re slowly but surely falling asleep, then walk out and have a chat with me – I use shock enabled remote-electrocution chairs. It’s a lot of fun I can tell you – especially when you’re the one allowed to press the shock buttons.

The Surgeon

A more complete description of ITIL is provided within the latest version of the ITIL library; version 3 and a wee bit. This latest library consists of 5 core volumes, and an introductory volume, which seems quite pleasant reading material. The books are “owned” by the Office of Government Commerce (OGC -, and published/printed by The Stationary Office (TSO – Both organisations are located in the United Kingdom, and secretly managed by a guy who calls himself simply the Surgeon and travels in a multi-dimensional time-travelling teapot on two spoons of sugar. Other ITIL volumes from the two previous versions are also available, but fall outside the scope of this document. Nevertheless - these older ITIL volumes - are still worthwhile reading, especially the Planning to Implement IT Service Management (ITIL v2) and ICT Infrastructure Management (ITIL v2) volumes. That is of course, if you’re extremely, extremely bored and have too much time on your hands. There’s nothing wrong with ITIL versions one or two, but people need to make money and hence keep rewriting common sense stuff and tell everyone how complex the Universe is. I honestly wonder why good practices have to change every so many years – that doesn’t make it good practice, or does it?

All empty promises!

In the not too distant future more comprehensive summaries of ITIL, ISO20K, ISO38K5, ISO27K1, MOF and CobiT will be provided for those self-masochists following more Service Lifecycle and/or more generic Service Management courses. These documents are due to be released mid/end 20009 (the extra zero is not a typo), although we keep all rights to delay this release date. Restaurants, lots of wine, beer, holidays, cruises, fantasy and science fictions books and fancy dinners are also mighty important (and donuts of course – the crispy creamy ones)!

Rusty coffee kettles

Please realise that "IsleBeeBach" is a relatively new blogger (time is after all relative), and consists solely of the author – that’s me – sitting behind this keyboard (that's this one), and only works 24 hours a day, but sleeps twice a day. Occasionally where unpredictable and unstable holes in the space-time continuum allow this may be extended to 24¼, but not a minute more! A request to clone the author has been submitted, but unfortunately was denied due to a prematurely discovered ITIL-insanity syndrome. That is what too much ITIL does to people nowadays!

ITIL and string theory

Ouch! Also crossbreeding ITIL with string theory (using 11¾ dimensions), general relativity and quantum mechanics hasn’t delivered many useful outputs as yet, not taking into account one rusty coffee kettle that refuses to whistle when it’s called upon, and the aforementioned teapot, but it’s recommended keeping an eye on the ITIL news pages, as one may never know what surprises the future may keep in stock.

This document - and all its brethren - contains tips (you’ll have to look hard for them though), tricks, resources and templates that can be studied in more detail at a place and time convenient to the reader – preferably on or near the beach. It can be used as a study-tool or future reference. I would probably not even read it, but since you're still here - what the heck - just keep going!

Did I mention "value" already?

At some stage this document, used together with my other online resources should become sufficient to pass the ITIL Foundation Exam (and likely all ITIL exams). More and more feedback proves this is already the case. As the author, I do not think there is enough online material available as yet, but with your support and feedback I am sure this will be possible to accomplish in the not too distant future (early 20009). This document is a “darticle” and as such a very dynamic article – it seems to grow continuously and sometimes even makes spontaneous genetic changes due to cosmic background radiation. Its future may be that of a hair dryer, electric toothbrush, or 8.4873 meters of dental floss. Your feedback is appreciated and I'll use it to fix up all my typos.

Applications to reuse, reproduce or republish any material in this publication should be addressed to God, Allah, or Om. I'm sure they won't approve it! Their wrath won't be as merciful as mine.

The Office of Government Commerce

Please also note that the ITIL-brand is owned by the Office of Government Commerce (OGC). I have no intention to copy what has already been written in their manuals, but I would like to enable you to learn, understand and adopt ITIL in less than a 1750 pages (1+5 books), and using a less formal (sleep-inducing) and academic language (yes, ITIL v3 seems a lot more academic than its more pragmatic predecessors). Anyway, I still acknowledge OGC for their "incredible" effort to get the ITIL knowledge and experience together in a relatively small library of books. The library seems to get smaller in each revision (page-number wise), which means that in October 2029 there will be no more ITIL left! Maybe OGC should be considering adding a couple of pages every now and again, as a singularity (point in space without any size) seems to be its ultimate destiny.

The intention of this document - and its brethren - is to become an up-to-date resource for all those that are interested in the topic of ITIL or more generically in the topic (IT) Service Management with the main purpose of passing one or more ITIL exams. This document must not be used by any public training organisations, unless they have received written approval from IsleBeeBach. A deadly curse awaits those that do copy contents without approval! This excludes any extraterrestrial life forms, as they would be considered pretty cool. Are you listening E.T.?


Please check this blog regularly for updated, even more surrealistic, versions of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to ITIL, dubbed H2I3 (your IT life-water). This document will be fully revised when ITIL v4 (nicknamed ITIL PBNR) becomes available. Oh sorry, ITIL PBNR that stands for “ITIL Point (read singularity) Beyond No Return”. That’s how good it will be – according to some, or maybe even better! You really, really don't want to know what I think of it all - honestly - you don't! Maybe my answer is e-ITIL (see one of the previous blogs).

For those without a life!

The following resources can, and maybe should, be used as additional literature when studying for the ITIL Foundation or other ITIL related exams:

Resource, ISBN, Price
Service Strategy, 0113310455, £85.00*
Service Design, 0113310471, £85.00*
Service Transition, 011331048X, £85.00*
Service Operation, 0113310463, £85.00*
Continual Service Improvement, 0113310498, £85.00*

The Official Introduction to the ITIL Service Lifecycle, 0113310617, £30.00*

(*These also make perfect paperweights!)

It’s unclear why the library wasn’t published as a "simple" single book, but a very bright student once made the remark: “Can you call one book a library?” I guess he answered this question in quite a remarkable and unexpected way.


All books can be purchased directly from the itSMF (IT Service Management Forum) website with a nice discount if you are or become a member. You should become a member of the itSMF and join the ITIL Force. The itSMF seems to attract a lot of members with first name Luke and Leia, and some members wear black breathing masks and long black cloaks for a yet unexplained reason. You can also order copies of the full Hitchhiker’s Guide to ITIL via this author. And "no", I'm not a member anymore!

The “real” ITIL v3 books are available in printed format, but are also available in full electronic (hyperlinked) format. Nowadays they can be purchased from most large (academic) bookstores (e.g. Dymocks), or they can be ordered from the itSMF (it Service Management Forum) website. The itSMF is the IT Service Management user community and it is highly recommended to become a member of this organisation when working in Service Management space.

Also see

In the next section I'll introduce ITIL, but then again, maybe I won't. The remainder of the document will then discuss the individual examination areas into more detail, although not as detailed as the original ITIL books (or PDFs). This could be seen as a slight (understatement) advantage though.

Damn, more toothpaste on my keyboard

When the author, who is currently brushing his teeth, and dripping toothpaste all over his keyboard, finds some extra spare time, more paragraphs will be added on topics such as Costs, Inputs, Outputs, Vision, Mission, Cultural Change, Tools, ITIL Implementation, Leadership, Managing a Successful ITIL project, Maturity Assessments, and little green bugs that crawl under your bed at night. It’s amazing what ideas pop up in your head at 3am in the morning.

You may be asking yourself the question is this guide worthwhile reading, as the author seems to be a bit weird – well, no one forces you to, but I guess it’s less depressing than reading your average daily newspaper.

Little ants

I’m very grateful to the little ants that are crawling over my desk right now, although I’m not quite sure why and would also like to express my gratitude to all those bipeds involved in deciphering and quality assessing my cryptic sometimes even alien language and for adding their mega-trillions of years of IT Service Management knowledge, skills and attitude to this guide. No, I won't say what thoughts just popped up in my mind.

If you find any issues or typos in this document then please let me know and I may well add you to the list of endangered and/or highly dangerous species. After all ITIL v3 doesn't have "any" typos or mistakes in the books, and they were written and edited by hundreds of extremely well paid professionals.

Happy reading and don’t forget:

ITIL is VITIL (doh – I meant VITAL)!

You will be ITIL-ised , resistance is utterly and completely futile.

You will be infected with the highly contagious ITIL-itis virus.

ITIL is not a bible, but a collection of common sense good and best practices.

Life is too short as it is, so let’s make it a bit of fun whilst we can!

ITIL is common sense for sensible people!

Again many happy (or not so happy, as after all, this is management stuff) reading hours,

Cybercatalyst, Animatrist and Virtualiser
Making a Difference!

To boldy use the infinity and beyond force on two teaspoons of yin 阴 and yang 阳.

Your feedback is required

Do you want to see more of the Hitchhiker's Guide on this blog, then you'll have to leave some feedback. The guide is approximately 400 pages in total, and I'll share it with you all, but need to understand whether or not it's something you're looking for.

ITIL ® is a Registered Trade Mark, and a Registered Community Trade Mark of the Office of Government Commerce, and is registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

ISO20K: Alice in Service Management Wonderland

Alice in Service Management Wonderland
Frameworks, methods and standards: complementing or competing each other?

‘Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?’
‘That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,’ said the Cat.
‘I don’t much care where—’ said Alice.
‘Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,’ said the Cat.
‘—so long as I get somewhere,’ Alice added as an explanation.
‘Oh, you’re sure to do that,’ said the Cat, ‘if you only walk long enough.’


We’re doing ITIL… we’re doing CobiT… we’re doing Balanced Scorecard… we’re doing CMMI… we’re doing MOF… we’re doing 6 Sigma… we’re doing T-MAP, we’re doing every single framework and method that’s available out there, but we’re still not sure whether or not we’re doing the right thing!


As a Service Management trainer and consultant it’s amazing and sometimes almost eerie when you come across yet another organization that seems to do and have it all and still doesn’t seem to get it quite right.

Spending bucket loads of money and wearing out dozens of highly capable and initially motivated staff many organizations seem to be (or feel) totally lost in a maze of promising-the-world frameworks and we-know-it-all-better methods. What all these organizations, maybe even including your own organization, have in common is that they’re all desperately, and often with valid and good intentions, trying to:

  • increase the quality of their IT Services;

  • decrease, or at least manage, the costs of providing their IT Services; and

  • align their IT organization with the rapidly changing business requirements.


Because most of us are facing or are already dealing with increased global competition, rapidly changing customer demands and expectations, shortening product and service lifecycles, ever increasing complexity of IT Infrastructures, and truckloads of data waiting to be translated into useful information and ultimately organizational wisdom.

As the author I probably feel as much confused as you do! What’s the optimal path (most efficient and most effective) forward? Is ITIL version 3 the answer, or should we stick with ITIL version 2? What about this MOF thing? Surely many of you are running a large percentage of their nodes on the wIntel platform, and the Microsoft Operations Framework may just be what you need, but then again there’s also ISACA’s CobiT. By the time I’ve finished this article someone in the world has probably come up with yet another framework or method.

I don’t claim having the ultimate answer, but I do think it’s time for a complete and total mind shift where organizations move from focusing on Service Management frameworks and methods to focusing on Service Management standards. ISO/IEC 20000 has been locked up in the cupboard for way too long and hasn’t as yet received the credit is deserves. Let’s have a tea party with ISO/IEC 20000 and ask Alice to come along.

This article’s intention is to give you an overview of where ISO/IEC 20000 positions itself and how it interacts with the various existing frameworks and methods, more specifically how it interacts with the ITIL framework. I could have chosen any other framework, but feel more comfortable with ITIL as I was spoon fed and grew up with ITIL from the day I could walk and talk.

In this article we’ll take a closer look at the current dilemma facing most, if not all, organizations. You’ll be provided with a succinct description of ISO/IEC 20000, and we’ll discuss training and literature as well as the certification and accreditation that are inherent to the standard. We’ll examine the costs, benefits and risks and also take a brave and daring step into the not too distant future. Where possible we’ll compare the standard with ITIL v3 and leave it up to you the reader to compare when applicable to other frameworks and methods.


Having a bit of a marketing background, I’ve been taught to show you pain and then give you pleasure. So where’s the pain? The pain lies in organizations investing enormous amounts of valuable dollars in a plethora of frameworks, methods and training, without achieving the reward that’s telling them: “you’re on track – for now”. Yes, I had to add “for now” as nothing is static in glamorous business world, and complacency often kicks in before you’ve even said your ABC.

So, you think you’re doing ITIL (it’s a bit like: “So, you think you can Dance”)? Far worse even; some organizations think they’re ITIL compliant. There’s no such thing as being ITIL compliant! You cannot be compliant with a highly flexible and dynamic framework – maybe in fairytales, but surely not in the real and highly complex world. ITIL doesn’t mandate anything. You can do with it whatever you want, and still call yourself an ITIL-ised or ITIL-based organization.

So, what’s the answer? Do you care where you’re going? Do you care whether or not you’re doing the right things and things right? If you care, then surely something should tell you exactly what to do! And that my dear reader is exactly what the ISO/IEC 20000 standard is all about. It doesn’t give you should/s, but is gives you shall/s. It provides you clear answers and to-the-point direction, whereas most (not all) frameworks and methods are wishy-washy, woolly, fluffy and directionless. Tell me what to do, and stop beating around the bush. Give me the standard, and give it to me now!


The ISO/IEC 20000 standard has been around since December 2005, and has recently (February 2007) been adopted by Standards Australia as the Australian National Standard for IT Service Management. The ISO/IEC 20000 standard (by many referred to as ISO20K) is a result of ISO (International Organization for Standardization) and IEC (International Electro-technical Commission) working together in a joint technical committee (JTC). Leveraging of BS15000 as an existing British Standard ISO20K was fast tracked into an International Standard for IT Service Management.

The standard consists of the following two key parts:

  1. Part 1 – Specification: The specification outlines those aspects of IT Service Management that an organization must comply with in order to withstand the all-seeing eye of the external auditors.

  2. Part 2 - Code of practice: The code of practice provides guidance and recommendations on how to meet the requirements as set by the specification.

Any organization, public, private, not-for-profit, can use ISO/IEC 20000 to design, develop, implement, maintain and improve a quality IT Service Management environment, and if it wishes to do so, pursue full accreditation as ultimate proof to its customers and own staff showing that the IT Service Management organization is on track, and is committed to stay on track.

ISO/IEC 20000 is not about accreditation, it’s about committing your organization and yourself to a mind-set and destiny called “managing quality”.


When comparing ISO20K to some other ITSM frameworks and methods, it seems relatively young, nevertheless there’s strong evidence in the form of ever growing support, training and literature that it’s here to stay, and that one day it may even push ITIL from its favorite number-one spot.

As it currently stands training is (made) available on three levels:

  1. Foundation Level: This training is geared towards giving you the ISO/20K language, concepts and bare bones. Remember: “Stronger foundations carry heavier loads”.

  2. Professional Level: Training on this level focuses on (five) specific parts of the standard including support, delivery, management, alignment and control of IT Services. The professional training provides each specific team with the capabilities of making the organization ready to be ultimately assessed against the standard (if and when required).

  3. Consultant/Manager, Auditor Level: At the highest level there’s an opportunity to specialize as manager/consultant or auditor. It may be evident that there’s a bit of a conflict of interest between these two main streams, as consultants should not be auditing themselves, and auditors should not give advice but merely gauge the status quo against a set standard.

Remember that ISO/20K is not necessarily about becoming accredited – it’s about committing to quality, in body and soul, when it comes to delivering IT Services.


As the ISO20K specification and code of practice outline to a large extend what needs to be done rather than how to do it, a purpose written set of publications, very similar to IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL), is made available through the British Standards Institute. A number of these publications (see below) are also used as part of the above mentioned ISO/IEC 20000 training modules.

The following publications are part of the “Achieving ISO/IEC 20000” series:

  • Management, decisions and documentation (BIP 0030)

  • Why People Matter (BIP 0031)

  • Making Metrics Work (BIP 0032)

  • Managing end-to-end service (BIP 0033)

  • Finance for service managers (BIP 0034)

  • Enabling Change (BIP 0035)

  • Keeping the service going (BIP 0036)

  • Capacity Management (BIP 0037)

  • Integrated Service Management (BIP 0038)

  • The differences between BS15K and ISO/IEC20K (BIP 0039)

Rest assured that any framework, any method, and any set of publications can be used, as long as the right bits and pieces are carefully selected that align with the ISO20K standard. The “Achieving ISO/IEC 20000” series makes this selection process just a wee bit easier.


Although not necessarily 100% accurate - as always “It Depends” which dictionary you use - I would like to make a distinction between certification and accreditation.

Certification: To supply an individual with credentials or authority.

This means that as an individual level you can get certified against the various ISO/IEC 20000 training levels. The certification stays with you, wherever you decide to go. Your organization may not be ISO/IEC 20000 accredited as such, but you are still recognized as for example a certified ISO20K Service Delivery professional.

Accreditation: To supply an organization, or part thereof, with credentials or authority.

This means that the organization, or part thereof, can get accredited against the ISO/IEC 20000 standard. The accreditation is not bound to any individual, but the organization, or part thereof.

What part of the organization becomes accredited depends on the scope of the assessment exercise.

Having both certified ISO20K staff and your ISO20K certificate framed on the wall (being ISO/IEC 20000 accredited) means you’re recognized a champion in the arena of quality management leaving the other players (for many of you read “competition”) struggling and desperately trying to keep up.


There are few things that come for free in this world, and ISO/IEC 20000K surely isn’t one of them. Fortunately it’s not only about spending money, but often saving even more, sometimes even your very existence. What do you prefer? A well managed Change Management process with properly kept change records, or delivering services that don’t work and ending up with frustrated and turning-your-back-on-you customers? The choice is yours my friends.

So, what are the costs? Here’s a comprehensive overview of some of the cost items you’ll be facing:

  • Consultants (could be done by internal staff):

    • Pre self-assessment or assessment performed by a recognized consultancy organization (what gaps need fixing?)

    • Changes (read improvements) to made based on identified gaps using ISO20K as benchmark

    • Post self-assessment or assessment performed by a recognized consultancy organization (are the gaps fixed?)

  • Auditors (cannot be done by internal staff, unless accreditation is not the aim of the game):

    • Pre-assessment (scoping the assessment, team composition, etc.)

    • Initial assessment (the official assessment by the auditors)

    • Surveillance (initially 6-12 months after granting accreditation, hereafter annually)

    • Re-assessment (six months before accreditation expires)

    • Scope extension (if required)

  • Miscellaneous:

    • Publications and supporting tools

    • Roles and staff needed

    • Accommodation for new staff

    • Training at the various levels

For the purpose of this article it’s really difficult to put a hard dollar value against the above mentioned list, as many factors, such as scope of the assessment (e.g. business units/geography covered) will influence the overall price tag.

Value proposition/benefits

Okay, so you’ve just been presented a comprehensive list of some of the cost items you’ll be facing when jumping on the ISO20K band wagon. On purpose I didn’t paint a world that can be admired through pink glasses only, but hopefully a more realistic one. Investing in quality costs money, but the following benefits, directly derived from ISO20K, should outweigh the costs and the risks.

  • Competitive advantage

  • Clear goals and targets to aim for

  • Improved internal and external relationships

  • Increased confidence by staff and customers

  • Frequent feedback on the state of quality provided

  • Instigates a change in mindset

  • Professionalizes culture

  • Consistency of service delivery

  • Focus-shift from reactive to proactive

  • Improved communication and reporting

  • Improved knowledge management

  • Independent assessment of your quality

  • Marketing opportunities

  • Reduced confusion on whether or not we’re doing the right thing

  • Clear and concise training and career opportunities

  • Focus-shift from technology to business drivers and enablers

  • Clear view on IT’s maturity and ability to perform well

  • Independence from other frameworks and methods

ISO/IEC 20000 is a true means, and at the time of writing this article probably the only means, of becoming completely frameworks and methods independent. Bygone are the days of proprietary process maturity assessments and to some degree also proprietary technology maturity assessments. Please realize that ISO20K can be used as a guideline to assess technology’s capabilities, but cannot be used to accredit the technology (read products). As such products cannot earn the status of being ISO20K compliant, but maybe some could be called ISO20K compatible.


The single biggest challenge often experienced by organizations implementing ITIL (or other frameworks) is the culture, and I guess this will be the same for organizations embracing ISO/IEC 20000, but to a lesser extent. I can almost hear you think: “Why to a lesser extent?” Frequent and substantial audits, especially linked to the official ISO/IEC 20000 accreditation leave no escape gates open, and no pages unturned. It’s often the lack of clear visibility of what should happen and what does happen in reality that creates a vacuum where non-conformities are allowed to breed and multiply. ISO/IEC 20000 is BIG BROTHER and the ever-watchful eye of Sauron - like it or not – it’s something we all need at times.

Some other problems you may well have to face are:

  • No sense nor urgency felt to jump on the ISO20K band wagon

  • Scope too wide or too narrow

  • Insufficient funding

  • No long-term commitment or involvement from senior management

  • No proper supporting products

  • Unclear how other standards (e.g. ISO9000) complement ISO/IEC 20000

  • Lack of vision, strategy and/or planning

  • Lack of ISO20K skills, knowledge and champions


The Caterpillar was the first to speak.
‘What size do you want to be?” it asked.
‘Oh, I’m not particular as to size,’ Alice hastily replied; ‘only one doesn’t like changing too often, you know.’
‘I don’t know,’ said the Caterpillar.

The future is change and change is the future. Is there a time in the future where all frameworks, methods and standards converge in a grand unifying service management theory? I sincerely hope so, but it may take another couple of decades before we finally get there. Until then playing it safe and becoming compliant to the International IT Service Management standard ISO/IEC 20000 doesn’t seem an illogical or wasted step into a future that will most definitely be filled with increased pressure on governance, compliance and standards.


However, when they had been running half an hour or so, and were quite dry again, the Dodo suddenly called out ‘The race is over!’, and they all crowded round it, panting, and asking ‘But who has won?’
This question the Dodo could not answer without a great deal of thought, and it stood for a long time with one finger pressed upon his forehead (the position in which you usually see Shakespeare, in pictures of him), while the rest waited in silence. At last the Dodo said ‘Everybody has won and all must have prizes.’

It’s not about ITIL being better than ISO20K, or CobiT whacking MOF around the ears. The message is making practical and optimal use of common sense and proven good, better and best practices. Depending on whether you’re able to work with a highly flexible framework or you need answers right here and right now, one solution may suit your organization better than others. The standard gives you clarity (what to do); the frameworks and methods provide you with substance (how to do it).

Personally I believe that there’s a very bright future for the ISO/IEC 20000 international standard for IT Service Management, and ignoring it and not joining the Queen-of-Hearts race could well put you behind the eight ball and cause irreversible or long term damage.

Frameworks, methods and standards are not the divine destination; it’s all the experiences you encounter on your journey implementing and using them that shape and form you as an individual or organization. Look back – take a lessons learned – and move forward.

Live long and prosper

Nanoo... Nanoo...


Monday, August 10, 2009

ITIL: Rise and Fall of the ITILian Empire!

Rise and Fall of the ITILian Empire!


As distance education lecturer I have strong opinions on and a passion for the current status and role of [IT] service management, and believe that [IT] service management is finally getting on the right track. Although I may seem a bit cynical and pessimistic at times – this is all done as part of the play and message that I’m trying to convey in this specific article. It’s not all rosebuds and sunshine, and balance needs to be maintained at all costs.

Aiming for something

Interesting title to start with huh! Hopefully it got some of your attention. I’ve never been much of a formal author, and my Dutch roots make me quite blunt, direct and to the point. This article has one objective and one objective only. It addresses the current status of the ITIL framework within the larger space I personally refer to as the [IT] service management domain, where even IT has – over the last couple of years – become an increasingly more optional parameter.

ITSM evangelism

For those who happen to know me as an [IT]SM trainer, instructor or lecturer, courseware developer, innovator, or even animator – whatever title you may want to throw at me – you may also know me as a bit of an [IT] service management evangelist. Yes, I do preach [IT] service management (please note the consistent placement of IT between square brackets), but lately have stopped preaching ITIL as the answer and/or solution to all your problems (yeah – I know – I should say challenges nowadays), as I have come to realise, ITIL was never intended to be a solution for any problem be it large or small. I admit – even I (it hurts saying this) was to some degree a bit brainwashed by a number of my previous employers – who in the end were making a lot of hard cash out of this ITIL thing that in reality no-one really ever got a full grip on.

Changing times

I guess we’ve all moved on – times change – practices change, but has ITIL itself really changed that much? Well, my honest answer is yes and no. I’ve never been a star in making up my own mind – I enjoy the surreal, mystery, suspense, and open-endings way too much. I can almost see your face, hear your thoughts and feel your frustration: “That’s another crappy consultancy answer!” Okay, so now I feel obliged to give you a creative and of course mostly dualistic answer.


Sure, ITIL has evolved. We’ve seen the birth of ITIL v1 – where we were literally suffocating under an ever increasing mountain of loosely connected ‘booklets’ describing some loosely connected [IT] service management related processes in a for the time being (late 80s) somewhat “structured chaotic” way. It’s a painful process trying to memorise even the outlines of what that ITIL thing actually looked, smelled and felt like. I just want to erase it from those grey and scarce memory cells, but at the same time still miss its many very useful – though not so colourful – templates. Surely you must have to admit that those SLA and DR-plan templates took the world by surprise, and I didn’t even mention the variety of, for example, availability management related formulas. Whatever happened to those?


ITIL v1’s long overdue ‘somewhat mentally instable’ sibling was given a rather painful and long birth some 10 years down the track (late 90s) and somehow received the not so creative title of ITIL v2. This version basically “seemingly randomly” clustered some processes together at an operational, tactical, strategic, implementation and infrastructural level. Terminology and definitions – as used within v2 - were mostly clear, transparent and comprehensible for even those with an IQ of below super-extravagant-more-than-intelligent-genius. The ITIL Creators known as OGC (please observe the subtle use of the capital C) somehow managed to reduce the ITI Library (sorry, you really can’t say ITIL Library) from a whopping 42 books (surely 42 must be the only true-and-right answer as it also happens to be the answer to life, the Universe and everything else) to a meagre 9 (bye-bye good old templates). Unfortunately 99.9% of the training organisations out there really only focused on 2 of the 9 volumes, which quickly became known as the blue and red books.

Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds

By the time the spirit (mindset) of ITIL v2 had become ‘finally really’ popular, adopted, embedded, and seriously being considered and implemented – although I most definitely don’t believe there’s such a thing as “implementing ITIL” – by many small, medium and large enterprises – who had astronomical buckets with money being thrown at these so called ITIL implementations – some [not so] bright spirit went like: “let’s ‘improve’ ITIL v2!” I sincerely still believe that person was enjoying his/her life in a coffee-shop in Amsterdam watching pink elephants dance on the Beatle’s tune of “Lucy in the sky with Diamonds.”


Anyway – ITIL v3 came out screaming and kicking at a weight of approximately 10 pounds bare somewhere in July 2007 (late 00s). In a nutshell OGC had managed to shred another 4 books, but somehow managed to create 5 ‘new’ tightly glued and integrated “service lifecycle” volumes. These volumes are so deeply interwoven and intertwined that probably only the big person in the sky knows the answer to the question: “Why weren’t these five volumes published as a single fully consistent, error-free and properly edited volume?” Surely OGC could and should have learned some lessons from publications like PMBOK (4th edition has 42 processes), CobiT and other academic – more consistently and better structured – publications. The amount of redundancy in ITIL v3 is still shocking, unnecessary, confusing, and a waste of CO2 absorbing and O2 producing (most likely Amazon growing) trees.

Curiouser and curiouser!

Please don’t get me wrong here - the ITIL v3 service lifecycle model is a fantastic – I repeat absolutely fantastic concept. However, we as an eagerly anticipating audience – with extremely high expectations set – are following a silent “dubbed” movie that describes an IT service from cradle to grave in a whopping 5 cinematographic colours. No seriously – I do like ITIL v3 – but I don’t understand why these volumes had to steer away from explaining good (or best) practices in a language we all speak and understand. Surely a process “is the related stuff we do to achieve things”, and not “a closed-loop system that provides change and transformation towards a goal and utilises feedback for self-reinforcing and self-corrective action.” Get a life, and start to speak a normal language! The authors didn’t even bother to keep the definitions as used in the text the same as the definitions as provided in the glossary. As Alice would say: “Curiouser and curiouser!”


So, has ITIL changed? Yes, but not everything has improved as much as it could have, and some things have even moved slightly backwards. It’s the latter that I personally dislike about ITIL v3, as they should not have happened and could have been avoided. In my opinion the optimal useful ITIL framework is version e (approximately 2.71828) – that floats in the twilight zone (teedee-deedee-teedeedeedee) between versions 2 and 3, complemented with all those templates and skeletons as provided in version 1.

The missing jig-saw pieces

All that said, even ITIL e (or call it eITIL) won’t be able to give you a full solution to your IT service management problem(s). ITIL roughly explains IT processes and their activities and how they can be implemented. It’s in my humble opinion still not very strong in covering the why, the what, and the who, or how to measure and be compliant with today’s standards like ISO/IEC 20000 and ISO/IEC 38500. Furthermore it only touches upon programme management, project management and most importantly the people aspect of it all – including potential cultural and structural changes that are typically unavoidable when moving into full process-based space, which may end up having even more dimensions than string theory itself – I guess 11¾ dimensions will do just fine. Furthermore the chapters on how to actually implement [IT] service management good practices have typically been reduced to a couple of pages, and aren’t most organisations really deeply interested in this specific topic?

Filling the gaps

It seems that more and more predominantly academic institutions are jumping on the much wider [IT] service management wagon, and are finally starting to fill the educational gaps that the public training organisations have not, either due to a lack of resources or capabilities, or due to pure financial reasons. Observing the job market there’s a clear trend identifiable of an increasing number of organisations searching for [IT] service management (ITSM) related capabilities, and a steadily declining number of them looking for specifically ITIL related resources and capabilities. To me this makes perfect sense, as we’re talking providing optimal services with minimal resources here. It’s not about ITIL, it’s never been about ITIL – it’s about managing services and providing optimal value to our dearly beloved customers! ITIL is “set of practical and proven practices” that are meant to support achieving an organisation’s objectives. It’s a means to an end, but somehow was elevated to something of deity-like scale and proportions.

Creative intelligence

We can use ITIL (v1/)/v2/v3 to put some process structure in place (so at least we know what we’re doing and can repeat it as well), and we can use ISO/IEC 20000 to make sure we’ve got the right processes in place and we’re sticking to them. We can also use IT Governance (CobiT) to get some proper control objectives in place, so we can actually measure some (the most critical elements) of our process performance, and we use ISO/IEC 38500 as the standard to do it right! We can use a bit of Prince2 and PMBOK to get some highly needed project management structure in place, and surround them with a bit of a programme management envelope. We can use 6-Sigma to make sense of our measurements to determine whether or not deviations are really deviations, or “naturally occurring exceptions” within defined boundaries. We can also use the balanced scorecard to map our performance against logically divided business domains, and ensure we actually get proper supporting functions like QA, HR, marketing, and finance in place. We can do lots of things, but in the end we can’t really ignore any of the domains described above, and that includes the service management domain. We need to use our creative minds and decide which pieces we’re going to use and how they will optimally connect with each other.

One ring to rule them all

Having said all of the above – there’s no such thing as one solution, one framework, or for that matters, one ring to rule them all. A highly dynamic balance needs to be carefully, intelligently and creatively planned, then constructed, maintained, continuously monitored and adapted. It needs to consists of many of the elements of the above mentioned standards, frameworks, methods, principles, mindsets, and approaches, and it all needs to be supported by a highly energetic cultural change programme where people are always first priority.

A never-ending story

So, ITIL is not the bible, it’s a single chapter of a dynamic volume that’s still being written as we speak, and unfortunately will never ever be finished. Only continuous well targeted and focused education – I’m not talking computer based training here – may give you and your organisation a head start and some knowledge of the chapters yet to be written, or rewritten.


I believe the answer is continuous and never ending service management education and commitment – that roughly translates into something like CANESMEAC. I like CANESMEAC as it sounds like a not too distant alien inhabited planet from a Star Trek original-series episode, hence live long and prosper (Star Trek).... nanoo nanoo.... (Mork and Mindy) and IsleBeeBach (Terminator).


If you’re like me, and you’ve been reading mostly between the lines trying to pick up the subliminal message, then hopefully you’ve come to the following conclusion. ITIL is still incredibly important and its empire is as solid as ever. However many new civilisations from far and distant countries and cultures are expanding the empire at an exponential rate. The empire has grown too big to explore without a map, and many unexplored bridges and tunnels still are demanding to be charted. It’s continuous education that allows you to peek over the shoulders of those creating the maps, and who knows – maybe one day – you may decide to become a map creator yourself and go where no one has gone before.

Finally, empires are known throughout history to be overthrown by friendly guests and neighbors without any signs of warning. Frameworks like CobiT, MOF, USMBOK and many others are lurking in dark corners waiting for their chance to take a seat on the [IT]SM throne, because in the end there can only be one dominating best practices framework, otherwise it wouldn't be the best anymore.

Live long and prosper

Nanoo... Nanoo...