ITIL® and Me

In the trenches with ITIL and ITSM.

It’s been some time since Capita entered into the “joint venture” with the Cabinet Office over ITIL and Prince2, and I just couldn’t help myself but to post a blog entry on the topic.  First, in six months or so, I want to see if my opinion matches what I now think, but more importantly I’ve been looking for a more ITSM topic to blog about as I’ve really been in the technology trenches with ServiceNow (it’s hard to have a blog titled ITILandMe and not blog about ITIL or ITSM).  Besides, who doesn’t own an ITSM blog and doesn’t have an opinion on the topic?  I certainly don’t want to be left alone in that category.  Unfortunately, there are a few different possible outcomes from this venture, and I think it depends on which point of view you’re using for analysis.

Historical POV:  For one minute, I want to recap the overall situation as I see it.  A framework, touting itself as the “most widely accepted approach to IT service management in the world,” and sanctioned by the UK government, has now joined in ITSM matrimony with a vendor that specifically uses the word “outsource” in its advertising on its website.  I’m a fan of history so let me point out two historical events that may bring some significance to this relationship.  First, the UK government hasn’t necessarily made the best decisions since the Magna Carta.  As a citizen of the US, also affectionately known as being a “yank” to the rest of the world, I can never help but to look at the events around 1776 and wonder “Would I prefer tea over coffee if the British just did things a little differently?”  Same goes for this case.  If Her Majesty’s Government (I’ll credit the IT Skeptic for my learning of this term in blogging) had decided to make ITIL an open source type of framework, would it have been possible to avoid vendor partnership and increase collaboration from the ITSM community?

I also don’t want to ignore the fact that the partnership includes a vendor that lists itself as specializing in “outsourcing” service delivery.  I recall that in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, there was a big movement to outsource call centers to India.  Sure, there’s a lot of technical talent in that particular country, but for some reason the outsourcing just didn’t seem to work out so well for the companies that chose that route (anyone remember having to call Dell tech support during that time period?).

Outcome:  Not Good

Privatization POV:  When ITIL first came out way back in the 80’s (along with big hair, synthesizers and MTV), it was a natural progression for some body to recognize the importance that IT would play in the future and at least start to document the “best practices” around its use.  To be honest, I’m not surprised that an actual government body decided to make such a publication because, by the very practice of capitalism, it doesn’t help a for-profit technology company to share it’s “best practices” with possible competition.  In the end, ITIL was published and just about anyone could purchase the content and/or take training classes for certification.  Sure, cost may have been high (even the 2011 certification isn’t cheap), but at least it’s available for all to learn.

Unfortunately, after becoming a V3 Expert I’ve also come to the understanding that ITIL is a framework, not to be confused with process methodology.  While common processes such as Incident and Problem (sorry, I mean incident and problem) management are well documented, has anyone noticed that complex processes such as release management leave A LOT to be desired?  Sure, ITIL outlines the processes in a way to state “you should do it” and “here are benefits,” but there’s no concrete documentation of “how.”  The good thing is that this understanding isn’t new and there are several vendors out there who have hundreds of pages of well defined processes collected from years of experience (my current employer being one of them ), so there’s really not a change in the material to ITIL with its privatization.

What I am worried about is contribution to ITIL in the future.  If I’m a consultant, or work for a vendor, that has years worth of IP, what’s the incentive to share it to a framework that’s owned by another vendor?  As a practitioner in the ITSM space I was wholly on board with contributing to a body of knowledge owned by a government.  Now that the IP is owned by a vendor, my “this is for the greater good” motivation and inspiration has been effectively squashed.  I’m not sure how the actual contributing authors feel on the topic, but to me, there’s a certain feeling that the UK has sold-out the contributing ITIL community.

Outcome: Worse than Not Good

For Profit  POV:  So, ITIL has been privatized and the IP is now in the hands of a company that, like so many other companies out there, has the goal of making a profit.  This means that they now become a service provider for those that want to take on learning and understanding of the wonderful IP that so is a part of my blog title.  While it seems that there may not be a lot of alternatives to ITIL, they are out there and now Capita is taking on the burden to continue the competition of “best practice” frameworks.  This also means they need to keep their customers happy by providing up to date content, accessibility to the material (preferably in electronic format), and actively marketing their content that they are now heavily invested in.  Since Capita is a vendor, and they’re hoping more people take part in a universal “best practice” framework, they also need to be cognizant that they can’t afford to not be objective of any new content they produce.  In other words, they’re putting themselves into a tough spot where they’ll be under constant scrutiny.

Outcome:  Worst Case – Nothing Changes

I wouldn’t exactly say that the Capita and ITIL joint venture is keeping me up at night, but there’s definitely a lot left to the unknown and there are a few possibilities of the long term outcome depending on which point of view you want to entertain.  With my current negative feelings toward the Capita + ITIL union, the best possible outcome is one in which someone comes out with an open-source framework that is 1) contributed to by the ITSM community and 2) is free/cheap.  The “meh” possible outcome is one where ITIL just slowly declines and other frameworks/methodologies slowly take over, and at worst case ITIL stays as the “go to” ITSM framework for beginners and contribution to it by the ITSM community slowly goes away until I change my blog to “COBIT and Me.”


I’ve been working quite a bit as a ServiceNow developer these days and I couldn’t help but think about…”what if my life was built on ServiceNow?”  Specifically, what would code look like if I were to think the way ServiceNow behaves. For example, someone sent an email asking if a date for next week would be a good time to meet.  I couldn’t help but simply reply with = true.  As a father, I also couldn’t ignore coming up with this nice little script:

if (child.mood.get() == ‘crappy’)
  var excuseToLeave = new GlideRecord(‘things_to_do’);
  while (
     if (excuseToLeave.duration > 120)
       var exitHome = new excusesToExitHome();
Since I’m a perpetual smart-ass, I’m sure I could think of several other “scripts” that would be applicable in life.  Does anyone else have something they’d like to add?  I’m curious to find out.

On April 29th, 2013, Omniquest went to join its buzzword brethren in the technology afterlife.  Originally born on January 24th, 2011, Omniquest came about from the crazy mind of Michael Slabodnick after the helpdesk manager at his local place of employment brought forth a Gartner whitepaper written by Jarod Greene (  Wanting to show off his newly acquired ServiceNow skills, and basically looking to have fun during work while showing how awesome he is, Michael started working on gamification after succumbing to peer pressure in the ITSM world.  Gamification turned into Omniquest after the work caught the ear of one of the directors and she formed a task force to build the concept of gamification into the existing Service Desk.  The code for Omniquest came about from several team collaboration meetings, late-night coding fueled by unknown chemicals, and the general excitement of people changing the way they work and rebelling against the concept of a dreary Service Desk existence.  During its life, Omniquest awarded hundreds of badges and points to the players, but more importantly, it allowed Michael Slabodnick to present at the Pink 12 and Knowledge 12 conferences, which also made for funny and entertaining blog posts.  Gamification is survived by buzzword siblings cloud computing, big data and social media.

So another conference has come and gone.  As in the past, I can’t help but create a post conference wrap-up of lessons learned.  Unfortunately, this one will be a bit different as it’s now from the perspective of someone that has joined the Dark Side.  And yes, not only does the Dark Side have cookies but also you get to wear a cool costume that includes a black mask and cape.  I’m still not sure why some old guy that looks like the (former) pope wanted me to wear it.  Anyway, on to the list…

  1. Life is hard as a vendor:  I always suspected this was the case (as I would always thank vendors for their sponsorship), but now that I went through the gauntlet of manning a booth, I can confirm that yes, it’s exhausting.  Not only is there physical exhaustion of standing for hours on end, there’s the emotional toll of FOMO that comes from missing some very interesting and fantastic content (which seemed to make the requirement to “man” the booth during specific hours as being pointless since no one was around anyway).  And also, let me recap my personality trait; I’m not an outgoing, jolly-go-lucky extrovert of a salesman.  Please don’t get me wrong – I can talk with the best of the neurotic Jews out there and I had a great time making conversation with many attendees, but it is tiring.  Once again, my hats off to the exhibitors (including me).
  2. Don’t ignore the obvious signs of a failing business model:  This doesn’t necessarily have a direct connection to the conference, but I couldn’t resist pointing out an “I was right moment.”  A particular vendor I humorously made fun of during my Post Pink Post for handing out CD’s wasn’t here at Pink 13.  I’m not sure what happened, but my guess is if you have marketing techniques reminiscent of IT organizations from the 90’s, then you probably don’t belong in this decade.
  3. Make sure you network vertically, horizontally and diagonally:  I was making idle chitchat with an attendee and I brought-up the topic of having fun in Vegas (it’s an obvious conversation piece).  The attendee commented that they didn’t have anyone to accompany them on any nightly Vegas activities and that things were pretty boring.  I’ll admit, I could of easily extended an invitation (and I should have), but I didn’t.  On the other hand, they could have as well.  My point is that while attending conferences with a coworker can make the ad-hoc post-conference activities fun, it can also force you to miss out on opportunities to network with other vertical levels, a.k.a., the vendors and speakers.  I’ve been fortunate to meet and socialize with some great people at all levels; attendee, exhibitor and speaker, and I can tell you I’m always able to find some kind of social activity that goes into the morning hours, along with getting to personally know the great minds of ITSM during such activities.  Besides, vendors will often pay for the drinks, especially if you’re a customer.
  4. Don’t upgrade your phone’s software before the conference:  I screwed-up and upgraded my iPhone to 6.1.1 this past Sunday.  Wouldn’t you know it, partway through the conference my battery started draining at an alarmingly fast rate and I became “plug bound.”  As a tip, plan a blackout period for changes to your mobile devices for at least a week before the conference and don’t touch anything during the event.  Your battery will thank you and you’ll have an easier time texting, tweeting, Facebooking, LinkedInning, blogging and generally communicating during the few days when mobility matters.
  5. Jedi Mind Tricks do not work:  Either that, or most of the attendees are strong-minded and can resist my powers of the Dark Side.  Needless to say, I did try on multiple times.  If you are reading this post and can recall a slight memory of a compulsion to visit me during the conference, please let me know…I love ego boosts.
  6. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas…until people remind you about it at the next conference:  I think this is self-explanatory, and it’s not always good.  Funny, yes.  Good, no.
  7. The best content does not always draw the best crowds:  I was a bit disappointed to experience this first-hand, and I can’t quite explain it.  I was sitting in Mark Kawasaki’s presentation ( and was fascinated by his experience with unplugging for 6 months and really living in his environment at Emory.  At the same time, I couldn’t believe the room wasn’t packed.  I’m not sure if the content went outside of the normal, conservative pattern of ITSM practitioners, or maybe not everyone knew of the significance.  Either way, it was awesome and I think a lot of people missed out.
  8. My archetype is that of the Royal Guard:  My primary trigger is Mystique and my secondary trigger is Prestige.  I am disappointed there was no personality type of the Rebel Smart-Ass.  I’d really be interested of how close I could get to that personality description.
  9. Irish folk dancers do not have facial muscles:  While they sure move their feet pretty damn fast, I did not see one facial twitch that indicated neurological activity.
  10. Just when I think I have a cool technology prediction that Chris Dancy ( hasn’t considered, he still manages to top it:  Another self-explanatory item.


There you have it, a wrap-up on what I learned while representing the Dark Side at Pink 13.  Did I have fun?  Absolutely (it’s Vegas after all).  Did I learn many new things in ITSM…that’s still open to debate.  While interacting with colleagues in ITSM is the best part of conference, the content I saw was interesting, and some even fascinating (I’m heavily using the word “fascinate” since it was part of a keynote).  As I couldn’t see as much as I wanted, I can’t quite criticize the content as I used to in past blog posts.  Who knows, one day I may even be a speaker at an up and coming conference, and then you’ll know for sure I’ve mastered the art of the Jedi mind-trick.  Until then, you don’t need to see any identification, this is not the ITSM you’re looking for…