Chris J Powell

Who can use ITSM?


When it comes to ITSM every IT Leader wants to be able to get better with Service Management but rarely can they go it alone.  Large or small it doesn’t matter the size of your IT Department there are several key imperatives that only focusing on a given Framework and striving for transparency and accountability can provide.  As a primer for a deeper look this week at COBIT and ITIL, I think it is important to take a top down look at the options available before diving into the world and the investment of Service Management.  Before I even attempt to look at the broader life within ITSM I do need to state that I am far from an expert in ITSM.  I have not achieved any certification in these Frameworks but I am well read and understand how the broader success of ITSM implementation can really assist IT Departments both large and small.

The premise for this article is to look at the actual frameworks available and realize that there are benefits to implementing any ITSM Framework regardless of size of department.  How much and what parts need to be implemented will vary based on size, industry and well general buy in from the Business Stakeholders.

ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library)


Among the most comprehensive frameworks available to IT Leaders, ITIL has been around since 1989 when it was published in 30 separate volumes.  Over time this has now been trimmed down and with ITIL v3 includes just 5 volumes:

  1. ITIL Service Strategy
  2. ITIL Service Design
  3. ITIL Service Transition
  4. ITIL Service Operation
  5. ITIL Continual Service Improvement

As a visual representation, each volume flows together and it is important to understand that implementing an ITIL Service Design without effectively charting a Service Strategy reduces both the effectiveness and the chance of success.

Some of the key advantages of ITIL include:

  1. Financial Measurements and Accountability
  2. Guidance for IT Service Design
  3. Service Level Management
  4. Availability Management
  5. Capacity Management
  6. Continuity Management
  7. Change Evaluation / Management
  8. Event / Incident Management
  9. Never ending cycle of Continuous Improvement


For all its strengths there are some weaknesses to ITIL:

  1. Cost…the time involved in a full blown implementation is not cheap
  2. Time…redefining what it means to be IT will not happen overnight
  3. Once you are done…you start all over…that’s what Continuous Improvement is all about
  4. People…I have seen full blown ITIL implementations with as few as 11 people but at its core it is designed for larger IT Departments 25+ and ideally 50+


COBIT (Control Objectives for Information and related Technology)

“The purpose of COBIT is to provide management and business process owners with an information technology (IT) governance model that helps in delivering value from IT and understanding and managing the risks associated with IT.”


That is straight from the horses mouth and from the FAQs at the ISACA website.  COBIT has been around since 1996 and takes a slightly different approach to IT Service Management as it roots are firmly planted in the Processes behind effective IT Governance.

Key advantages of the COBIT Framework include:

  1. Audit Preparation
  2. Strong Process Documentation
  3. Risk Balance and Mitigation
  4. Standard Compliance (SOX, HIPAA, etc)


But just as with ITL there are drawbacks to COBIT:

  1. It is Entirely about the Process…beyond security there is little in the overall Services arena to focus on delivery of value
  2. The Depth and Breadth of coverage is so vast…bringing in assistance is almost always required adding to the implementation cost
  3. Policies, Policies and more Policies…over the years I have learned many things but IT Leaders and Policies…rarely mix


Other Options:

ITIL Lite: Also known as ITIL Small Scale Implementation focuses on four key areas:

  • A practical guide to scaling ITIL for use in smaller organisations.
  • Publication structure follows the Lifecycle approach, looking at how each phase of the lifecycle can be scaled for Small and Medium Businesses.
  • Uses terminology consistent with the ITIL Service Management Practices and the ITIL Glossary, acronyms and definitions.
  • Suggest roles and role combinations suitable for a smaller organisation.


FITS: A UK Education IT Framework that was developed and built upon by the now defunct BECTA organization it focused on:

  • Service Desk
  • Incident Management
  • Problem Management
  • Change Management
  • Release Management
  • Availability and Capacity Management
  • Service Level Management
  • Service Continuity Management
  • Financial Management


Microsoft Operations Framework: Developed by Microsoft to ensure that the different components of its broad reach of Technical Infrastructure is met

  • Tried-and-tested processes for planning, delivering, operating, and managing IT
  • Governance, risk, and compliance activities
  • Management reviews
  • Best practices from Microsoft Solutions Framework (MSF)


Surprisingly, when I do any searches on MOF, the top 30 results all come from Microsoft and Microsoft Affiliated sites and organizations.


Tomorrow I will go more in depth into ITIL and really explore how and why something as nebulous as the ROI on it can be justified by so many organizations.




Chris J Powell

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