Deconstructing ITSM

20 January 2017

What should developers know about IT Service Management?

Filed under: ITSM — Joe Pearson @ 15:24
Tags: , ,

I often work with developers and others involved with developers, and often get into discussions about what “ITSM” covers and what—if anything—they ought to know about it.

This post is aimed at developers (and team leaders and scrum masters and managers), and business analysts, and project and programme managers, in the hope that it may help—or at least stimulate discussion. Comments welcome of course from ITSM specialists, especially if you think I’ve misrepresented something.

So what is IT service management? In a nutshell, it’s what has to happen to the development product after it’s deployed and goes live.

And what do developers need to do about it? In a nutshell, don’t ignore it until deployment. Don’t just provide a demo to the support desk at deployment time. And don’t try to do it all in isolation from existing service management teams and duplicate existing capabilities.



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…)

9 November 2015

Don’t forget the steering wheel

Filed under: ITSM,requirements management — Joe Pearson @ 21:42

Someone recently said to me that the need to manage the customer’s experience of a service once it’s been delivered often seems to get forgotten. And I was reminded of this illustration I put in a presentation some years ago.

Don't forget the steering wheel

Service management is usually an afterthought

Yes – that’s vintage 1990s PowerPoint clipart.

You wouldn’t sell or hire out a car without a steering wheel and dashboard instruments. As a customer you wouldn’t expect to hear “But it does 0 – 60 in 7 seconds with a top speed of 115. And it complies with government emissions standards (no … not just under lab conditions). The documented requirements didn’t say anything about the end-user being able to control the direction or receive reports on the actual speed.

So why is this so common with software and with technology services?

And why is this still an issue after 20 or 30 years? (more…)

19 February 2009

Start ITIL with Continual Service Improvement

People often ask which part of ITIL companies should implement first. They very often get the (correct) answer that you don’t implement ITIL, you use it to improve your service management. But that’s really just rephrasing the question: which part of ITIL should companies use first to improve their service management?


Terminology and Taxonomies

This is fun: Vinod Agrasala is refining terminology such as Purpose, Goal and objective, Policy, Process & Procedure, Standards & Guidelines, and Assessment, Gap analysis and Audit; and the IT Skeptic is looking at the taxonomy of ITIL V3 Incidents and a list of Request Classes (caution: with all the comments those pages are around 8,000 and 3,000 words).


I am in a focused drive of differentiating between confused terms

The Skeptic:

I think ITIL V3 muddies the definition of Incident, and of Incident Management.


17 February 2009

People – Process – Technology – The eternal triangle

The eternal triangle of “People, Process and Technology” is tired and overworked, especially in marketing literature. In itself, these facts don’t make it wrong. But is it good enough?

It’s usually invoked to back a claim that there’s more to consider than just [whatever it is that is already being considered – often a technical product]. And this is nearly always a good thing. Obviously each of the three words embraces a number of related concepts – for example, a consideration of people requirements should bring in questions of skills and motivation as well as sheer numbers of people. But can the triumvirate of People, Process and Technology claim to be everything there is to consider?



One thing I think is missing is the dimension of information or data. (Information and data are not the same thing, but we can understand them living on the same dimension, along with knowledge and wisdom. As does content, the term favoured in web-enabled business-to-consumer areas.)

Some people seem to regard information as a detail of technology, but I believe this view leads to incomplete solutions – in other words, information is very definitely something more to consider.


12 February 2009

10 Reasons Why Strategic IT Management Initiatives Fail

Dennis Drogseth has published an article 10 Reasons Why Strategic IT Management Initiatives Fail on CIO Update.

Now, I agree with every one of his ten reasons, but I immediately thought of some different angles on the approaches he recommends … (more…)

3 February 2009

ITSM discussion boards

Filed under: ITSM — Joe Pearson @ 21:12

What discussion boards on IT Service Management do you find useful?

  • I have not been active very much on LinkedIn until recently, so I can’t judge the discussion groups there. But there are a great many ITSM or ITIL groups, some with willing experts. Some, admittedly, are dominated by job ads or requests. I’ve yet to find one that shows a good level of activity and content, but the groups are evolving.My impression of the software capability is not good though: yes, it lists recent discussions, but it doesn’t provide a way to jump to the most recent post in a discussion; it doesn’t flag which discussions you’ve participated in, and doesn’t provide any way to subscribe to a discussion or flag it as interesting – all of which are standard features of discussion board software like phpBB, vBulletin (which is not free), or SMF.
  • I like the ITIL Community forum: it has plenty of willing experts, and the software base is OK. It suffers from a large number of beginner’s ITIL exam-related questions (which are in scope; there’s a big need) and very basic questions from people who show no signs of having done any research and don’t give details of what they really need. I don’t think that’s a bad reflection on the board, just a bad reflection on humanity. (Look at Java and other programming boards for exactly the same problem.) Note – when I say “willing experts” I don’t mean people willing to answer basic questions. In fact, the ITIL Community has “grumpy experts” and when I grow up I’d like to be one.I do take issue with some of the ITIL Community’s admin policies, e.g. requiring you to post a verification code with every new thread or reply you preview or submit, and disallowing any links posted in messages (see this post, for example). Even for long-term registered users. There are better ways of dealing with off-topic and commercial spam than treating everyone as a bot.There are some excellent discussions and insights, and that’s ultimately what matters most.


27 January 2009

Agile Service Management

I’ve been thinking…

  1. I am not a professional software developer or data architect, but I’m very interested in these disciplines through ITSM contact with practitioners and teams. (I often feel there’s a great loss of value in the lack of mutual familiarity between service management and development/data communities.) One of the approaches I have been particularly interested over the past year or so is Agile Software Development, the Agile philosophy – see the Agile Manifesto, and some of the key practices associated with Agile development like test-driven development, refactoring and design patterns.
  2. I observe that many ITSM projects (“implementations” or improvements) suffer from issues with long timescales, inability to cope with changing requirements, lack of user acceptance, and so on. Not all, but those that do suffer tend to be blind to the causes and show resigned acceptance to such issues – or even to be blind to these issues.

Those issues, and others I haven’t listed, are very like the kind of things the authors of the Agile Manifesto were experiencing. Agile development is very successful in certain environments (though not all – and more traditional “big requirements up front”, “big design up front” methods have strong defenders). Could Agile principles be applied usefully to IT Service Management problems? (more…)

21 January 2009

No one needs a CMDB

… Did I just write that? But it’s true. No one needs a CMDB for itself, or a CMS, or an SKMS. Even an outsourced service provider whose client has written “must have a CMDB” into the contract doesn’t need the CMDB itself. Anything will do as a CMDB, to avoid contractual penalties. The client has no external standard to hold the provider to. So they write, or should write, more specific terms to give the desired control. And so should organisations trying to improve configuration management for business value rather than compliance.

What good, specific objectives or contract terms are there for a CMDB, or more accurately a configuration management improvement project?

Here’s one. (more…)

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