Deconstructing ITSM

16 December 2016

ITIL is a set of design patterns

Filed under: agile service management,ITIL,ITSM — Joe Pearson @ 16:28


People who’ve spent any time with IT service management will be more or less familiar with ITIL – “the most widely accepted approach to IT service management in the world” (ITIL | AXELOS) (Decent Wikipedia article.) And people who’ve spent much time with ITIL will probably be familiar with the phrase “adapt and adopt”, and the recognition that ITIL isn’t a standard, just a library of good practices.

But still there’s a tendency to see ITIL as a monolithic block of processes and organisational recommendations, which all organisations should strive to adapt a little bit and implement in full, subject to reaching some flexibly-defined level of “maturity”. And this can in practice put people off getting the real value out of ITIL.

It is the best library of good practices we have, but it is not as cohesive and internally consistent as it aims to be, and falls short of being a management approach. Numerous authors, such as the IT Skeptic, have written extensively about the limitations.

Design patterns

People who’ve spent time in development, especially agile development methods, will be familiar with the concept of Design Patterns – generally reusable solutions to commonly occurring problems within specific contexts, as popularised by the 1995 book “Design Patterns: Elements of Reusable Object-Oriented Software” (Amazon). (Wikipedia; some links to pattern catalogues.) Terms like “decorator” or “factory method” are now parts of everyday development language, as “CMDB” or “SLA” are in ITSM.

For those who may not be familiar with the concept, I’ll outline the essential features (as I understand them – I am not an expert) below, with the parallels with ITIL. (more…)

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