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Posted by Jean-Pierre Garbani on June 26, 2009
I received a comment from a Forrester client about ITIL and BSM, and their respective potential influence on each other. Most notably whether BSM was the only mean to implement ITIL.
My background is in process control automation and software engineering, two disciplines firmly grounded in technology and reality. For me, the word "process" invokes a very specific meaning and definition such as CPRET.
CPRET is a mnemonic for the basic definition of process in process engineering: it stands for Constraints, Product, Resources, input Elements and Transformation which are the basic components of a process. In process engineering, a process is a suite of transformations of elements into a given output (product) given a set of constraints and resources. From this definition, we can see that technology has a strong influence on the process: the transformation part is a clear function of the technology available as input and resources in IT are strongly influenced by the technology used. As we mostly deal with information and data in IT management processes, the type of data available is either helping or impeding the transformation part.
It stands to reason that if the only input to a process is limited information and the only resources available do not shed more light on the subject, the transformation part will not reach the desired output. If your only tool is a hammer, everything looks like a nail illustrates this: the process treats any and every input as a nail, with a random output and an unpredictable success rate. Of course this is not acceptable.
My issue with ITIL is that it tries very hard not to mingle with technological issues, exactly as if the input and resources were constant. Of course, one should not forget that ITIL is grounded in mainframe technology, were inputs and resources have been well known and defined for ages.
So, is BSM the only way to implement ITIL? Certainly not, but ITIL cannot be implemented without a definition of the technology used and a clear understanding of what the technology provides as inputs and resources. Dispensing of this, as I have seen many organizations do, would simply result in a mass of useless paper. What should we do about implementing ITIL then? First renounce the ITIL dogma (The ITIL purist will certainly disagree). Second understand what tools are available and what type of inputs and resources they provide. Third, rewrite the ITIL process by incorporating these new inputs and resources in the process.
Is BSM the right tool set? There is always progress to be made, and something else will one day replace BSM. But today it is the only one we have got.
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