Posted: Sun Aug 15, 2010 6:16 am Post subject: ITIL and IF4IT
Our firm started to adopt ITIL in 2004 but had limited success for a number of reasons. Recently, our new CIO asked us to start using IF4IT (The International Foundation for Information Technology) to standardize internal IT language and use that as a foundation for implementing repeatable services and disciplines and tie to a master enterprise capability model that our architecture group has put together.
Has anyone on here used it before and, if so, how? I'd like to find a way to download the glossary into our corporate intranet and use it as a baseline for our corporate data taxonomy, as well. Has anyone done anything like that?
Joined: Mar 04, 2008 Posts: 1888 Location: Helensburgh
Posted: Mon Aug 16, 2010 12:39 am Post subject:
I've taken a quick look at IF4IT. It does seem to lack substance at this time. The key components ("core IT disciplines" and "enterprise architecture framework" are listed as "coming soon".
If, when they appear, they are as abstract as the sampling I've done of the glossary, you will be one zillionth of the way forward, but have an awful lot of mugging up to do to get there.
I could not find a definition of "incident" or "problem" in the glossary and from the definition of "capacity" provided it is hard (not impossible) to include the processing capacity of a computer.
Several of the definitions are little better than truisms. For example "Change Item
1. An entity, object or record that either is intended to represent, is a dependency for, or is pertaining to a specific Change."
This really says that a change item is anything that is related to a change.
My favourite so far:
1. A modification or replacement of something notable. 2. A group or collection of artifacts or entities intended to represent a modification or replacement of something notable. 3. To modify or replace in some particular manner."
If a specialist glossary is going to be useful, then multiple definitions will only work if they are qualified in situ by context. In fact, the glossary before the "framework" and "disciplines" is a bit like the cart before the horse since a glossary is supposed to explain terms in a context. A system built on this foundation might well "fall in the sea, eventually".
[been a while since I quoted the main man]
Now I'm going to try to be controversial. I don't know, obviously, what went wrong with your previous efforts at improving your service management system (although I am familiar with many ways to go wrong), but I would suggest that "adopt ITIL" is not much better than the heinous ""implement ITIL".
What will work is adopting specific elements of ITIL guidance, adapted to suit your organization, and aimed at improving specific elements of your management system. If you do it right then the term "ITIL" need never come up as you will be applying your grasp of "good practice" IT service management (which you and your colleagues may well have enhanced by a close study of ITIL).
When they started calling ITIL a framework, it encouraged a lot of people to assume it was a solution and chuck it at a service with little depth of consideration.
If your organization has developed an aversion to "ITIL" then there are three other documents of high value to you in guiding your management system development:
- ISO20000 (you do not need to go for the standard to get value from the document)
These all have enormously more substance than what I have seen on the IF4IT website. _________________ "Method goes far to prevent trouble in business: for it makes the task easy, hinders confusion, saves abundance of time, and instructs those that have business depending, both what to do and what to hope."
William Penn 1644-1718
I think you're reading far too much into what IF4IT is providing. It's not a set of recommended solutions that you implement to address different areas of support and operations, like ITIL. It's a standard language for IT and the business to communicate and understand all aspects of IT, together. This is something that ITIL has only created confusion for, as trying to get the business to understand and support ITIL has been excruciating, at best. We sat down with some business stakeholders to show the IF4IT glossary and there was no real contention on terminology and their meanings. I'd say that's a good start for us.
It also looks like they're going to be able to do things like provide standard IT taxonomies and ontologies, where ITIL and other existing frameworks cannot, because of their limited scopes. One thing the we find useful with the IF4IT glossary is its pretty wide area of coverage. We have not, to date, been able to find a single glossary that even comes close (if, by the way, you come across one, please let me know).
I do acknowledge that ITIL does have an established glossary of terms that we feel is, at best, incomplete, inconsistent and often even in conflict with other areas of IT, let alone the business we support. This is where we hope the IF4IT language will help unify the business and IT. If I had to guess, I'd say they will, one day, get to solutions and frameworks but I agree that that's not at all where they're at, right now.
It's interesting that you picked the definition of "change" to discuss. We just had a long discussion about this, the other day at work. After beating it up, we all felt that the IF4IT definition was more intuitive and covered more areas of change, such as strategic change management and cultural change management, which ITIL doesn't go into, at all. Also, no experienced developer would ever acknowledge or go by the the ITIL definition of Release, let alone other terminology that's used. I think IF4IT definitions are more widespread and meant to address the bigger picture. This is probably why they have more specific definitions for things like "Strategic Change Management" and "Operational Change Management".
You mentioned that several definitions were nothing more than truisms but I believe that is what makes the definitions more appealing and applicable to broader IT. ITIL tried to pigeon-hole the definitions to be specific to limited areas of IT, such as support and operations. This is the very thing that alienated developers and IT leaders from it, in our organization. I'll bet that this is probably one of the main reasons why ITIL adoption is slowing (as per Forrester).
As for your comment on their definition of "capacity", I'd have to say that I disagree because the IF4IT definition allows us to apply it to other areas of IT, too, like data center capacity and facility capacity, as well as things like systems capacity. The ITIL definition limits us, again, to systems.
BTW, I just checked the glossary and definitions for Problem and Incident do exist.
Problem = 1. A perceived negative Issue that arises through the decomposition and analysis of one or more Incidents, Risks, Causes, Effects and/or Outcomes and which is deemed to require some level controlled Change to correct.
Incident = 1. A reported or communicated disruption to normal events or expected behavior.
To address your comment of being controversial (which I don't feel that you were), you stated that we should adopt specific elements of ITIL. We have and we did so long before ITIL was en-vogue. A help desk, a support staff, case management and escalation processes were all in place years before ITIL was in place. It was all there to some extent or another, long before ITIL started trying to create it's own solutions for such things... making ITIL, nothing more than a truism, right? My own attempt at controversy... Sorry if it failed!
As for me, I don't really care what we use. I just want something that doesn't confuse people more and helps to reduce the already existing confusion that exists in our organizations, which is why we're out looking for a glossary that meets our needs.
Just the same, thanks for the feedback and the other references (which by the way, are all also very limited in coverage and scope, as none of them apply to broad IT). I do appreciate your time and help.
ITIL is a set of concepts and practices for Information Technology Services Management (ITSM), Information Technology (IT) development and IT operations.
ITIL gives detailed descriptions of a number of important IT practices and provides comprehensive checklists, tasks and procedures that any IT organization can tailor to its needs. ITIL is published in a series of books, each of which covers an IT management topic.
Actually, ITIL "attempts" to be the set of concepts and practices for IT Service Management, IT Development and IT Operations. It's done well in some areas and very poorly in others. If people try and implement the weaker areas of ITIL, it's like being stranded on a small island while a Tsunami is coming at you. There is no hope!
There are many frameworks out there... RUP, MSF, MOF, etc. ITIL is just one and like all others, it's limited in coverage and, sometimes, we find from experience that it's even wrong in certain areas. Anyone that has implemented different areas of ITIL knows that it fails in many areas, especially in the area of Development, for example. No developers follow ITIL. They'll follow Agile, or Xtreme, or RUP or whatever other flavor of the day exists but they "will not" follow ITIL, under any circumstance. Also, ITIL is viewed as the reverse of what most businesses want. It's perceived to slow IT down, make it fatter and make it more expensive.
Since ITIL is weak in many areas of IT coverage, such as Development, it fails to cover the bigger picture of IT Operations. I've seen many organizations try to implement its weaker areas and fail... The CMDB, the DHL and DSL, Financial Management, etc.
Now, please don't get me wrong. I'm not saying I don't like ITIL or that there aren't any good parts to it. There are. It's just very limited in scope. It's also a closed framework and very slow to change. We're looking to move to a more open framework that matures rapidly. We were mandated to find a solution that gets "everyone", across all of IT and our Business, speaking the same language, which is why we were told to look at IF4IT. I don't know if it will help but I can say that after looking at it, it definitely covers a larger area of IT. It also appears to grow rapidly and its open and free (that part I personally like best).
By the way, anyone that has truly followed ITIL or tried to implement it knows that it's got some serious flaws and gaps. You can read the ITIL Skeptic's Blog to get tons of good information on these things.
I'll leave you with the thought of how weak and incomplete ITIL's view of Configuration Management is. It doesn't cover Business Configurations, Resource Configurations, SW or HW Build Configurations, Distribution Configurations, Installation Configurations, Execution Configurations, Real Estate of Facility Configurations, etc. ITIL leaves out the bigger picture and many other details that an IT organization needs to be successful. It's also very slow to be updated with new concepts that are sorely needed to be successful. We need something more comprehensive and more agile.
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