Owning ITIL

Rob England


Two Hills (New Zealand)





Reviewed by

Peter Wheatcroft, CEng FIET FBCS, CITP FCMI


10 out of 10

Owning ITILThis is a wonderfully irreverent, but totally authoritative, book from an author who dubs himself ‘The IT Skeptic’. It is a slim manual that seeks to debunk the language and meaning of ITIL and relate it to the practical implementation of IT service management.

It is unlike an earlier book by the itSMF called Not the IT Infrastructure Library Made Worse, which sought to use humour to get its message across - whereas Rob England uses obvious experience and simple language to promote good SM disciplines.

The main message the book conveys is that there is no value in ITIL itself, only in good service management. This is absolutely true and whilst it may grate with ITIL purists, the fact that SM processes are sometimes implemented in a mechanistic rather than a pragmatic way gives evidence to Rob’s message.

What he does is to explain that ITIL is about changing the way that people work and that the processes they deploy are simply a means to that end. How true!

Effective service management processes are about simple, well understood and efficient ways of working that satisfy customer requirements and to that end, adopting them blindly will never work. What the book does is to explain that service management aligns IT to the business by producing the biggest cultural shift of any discipline as it concentrates not on IT-focused activities, but on customers and the services they receive.

Rob goes on to explain that ITIL projects can be over-engineered and that implementation needs to adopt the process definitions in the ITIL publications, but to adapt them as required.

He explains very succinctly why CMDB projects are so difficult and costly to implement and why a service catalogue is a far more effective deliverable than a fully populated CMDB. He is an advocate of tools that support process workflow, but does not believe the ITIL compliant labels that vendors put on their products.

The book explains the relationship between ITIL and CobiT through both analogy and by specific reference and there are copious footnotes pointing to sources of further information. Whilst it is said that outside expertise is essential, he asks readers to choose a consultant - which he is himself - on the basis of their experience and expertise and not on how many ITIL courses they have attended. 

The book contains a number of checklists covering ITIL projects before, during and after implementation and it ends with a pragmatic set of recommendations that link process improvements with real ROI and performance benefits rather than generic or virtual benefits delivery.

It’s a gem of a book that offers a good perspective on what the ITIL v3 manuals take 5 volumes to cover.

Further information: Two Hills (New Zealand)

October 2009