What’s wrong with IT4IT?

IT4IT is a new standard and you can now get an IT4IT certificate by answering 40 questions in one hour. I.e. being an expert seems to require that you need to learn it by heart. While I don’t like this type of certifications, the main problem is that the standard is not ready.

The standard is a curious mix of a meta model for an IT ERP systems and best practices. The model shows the application components and the data interfaces. The best practices thinking appears in the CSF’s and KPI’s

There is good thinking behind the model. It has some clear definitions and a defined description language. At some other parts, it looks like the model construction has taken over the model content. The service customer, consumer or user has been treated a hot potato. According to Charles Betz, the concept of the customer does not belong to this description level. I can understand the idea. It is possible to describe the working of some high level system leaving out the connections to the outside world, but this is not the case with IT4IT. The customer links are there. Customer has Requirements, there is an ”Engagement Experience Portal” and the Detect-component should ”understand user issues”.

While user issues are not important enough to have a component, events are. Surprisingly events have even a lifecycle. This is strange. An event is a notification of something that has happened. For example, a user may have entered a wrong password or one disc unit may have failed. In both cases the event is not significant alone, hundreds of users make mistakes everyday and the disc system is built for redundancy. Events need to be analyzed but they do not have a lifecycle.

CSF and KPI

A critical success factor (CSF) for the Detect to Correct value stream is Achieve Operational Excellence. It looks like the IT4IT has misunderstood the term CSF. According to Wikipedia:

Critical success factor (CSF) is a management term for an element that is necessary for an organization or project to achieve its mission.

Critical success factors should not be confused with success criteria; the latter are outcomes of a project or achievements of an organization that are needed to consider the project a success or to esteem the organization successful.

The key performance indicators are strange too. These are KPI’s for event management.

Increase in breadth and depth of monitoring endpoints, reduction of escalated events (via filtering/correlation/ automated resolution), reduction of false positives, and reduction of the number of security events that cause business disruption.

How do you measure ”breadth and depth of monitoring endpoints” and why would it be good to reduce escalations? Why do they assume that ”false positives” are an issue generally, why not false negatives? It is quite difficult to see how these would indicate good performance.

The next CSF is ”Improve Customer Satisfaction”. Again this is clearly the outcome, not a factor. As a KPI there is ”Increase rate of first call resolution”. The IT4IT architects live still in the era of telephone support.

There is value in IT4IT but it is far from ready.

IT4IT kiinnostaa

Tammikuu 2016 on ehkä (kuukautta on vielä jäljellä muutama päivä) kaikkien aikojen vilkkain kuukausi Pohjoisviitan sivuilla ja syynä on IT4IT. Kirjoittamani juttu on kiinnostanut lukijoita Suomessa ja maailmalla, kävijöitä on 61 maasta.

Jos haluat kuulla lisää asiasta, tule Prosessipäiville kuuntelemaan 19.-20.4.

ITIL V4 is born

Unfortunately, both the father and mother probably deny this so there will be no party.

The Open Group has published the IT4IT™ Reference Architecture, Version 2.0, an Open Group Standard. http://pubs.opengroup.org/it4it/refarch20/index.html

IT4IT is a real architecture model, it is well defined with logical elements and definitions of Functional Components and their relationships. It is based on four value streams:

  • Strategy to Portfolio (S2P)
  • Requirement to Deploy (R2D)
  • Request to Fulfill (R2F)
  • Detect to Correct (D2C)

There are also supporting functions within the value chain model such as Supplier Management, Asset Management, Human Resource Management, Legal, and IT Financial Management.

IT4IT

 

It has taken the basic structure of ITIL and made an architectural framework of it. The components are well defined, there is data model and relationship structure. It clearly at significantly higher lever of abstraction and sophistication than what the ITIL literature offers.

The architecture is independent of vendors, processes etc. The authors claims that it works as well in agile environment as the in traditional waterfall style development. It is really not meant to be the next version of ITIL but it looks like it very much. The authors say that it is not a best practice model, but it follows ITIL very closely. In some places the text looks like it has been copy pasted from ITIL (for example Incident).

The architecture seems to be aimed to an internal IT service provider, just like ITIL. It assumes that the service provider has a high degree of independence and can execute its own strategy. It does describe a provider/broker model where IT acts as a service broker between the business and various vendors, but it does not cover situations where either the IT is an external service provider or where the IT is just one service provider, but not a broker. When business takes more responsibility of its IT solutions, there is less need for a centralized IT department between the vendors and the business. The authors clearly oppose this development so the IT4IT model can be seen as an attempt to boost the position of the CIO. Running IT as a business seems to be the goal and I disagree with it. If you can run IT as a business, then you should become an external vendor and test your competitiveness against other vendors. It is too easy to be a business within a monopoly situation.

It is interesting to see that there seems to be a consensus within the Open Group that attempts to use ITIL generally fails. The authors write: The absence of a service-centric IT operating model in the past helps explain why all the time and money invested in best practice process frameworks like ITIL and COBIT, working with consultants to optimize IT organizational structure, and investments in IT automation have fallen short of expectations. IT4IT is offered as a new solution to this evident problem.

My estimate is that IT4IT can be quite valuable for any organization that plans to use ITIL. It is much more structured and logical. Nobody should implement any ITIL process tools without studying the IT4IT data model. In that sense IT4IT can replace ITIL if the Open Group creates trainings and certifications.

Unfortunately, IT4IT copies many of ITIL’s core problems. I have written a lot about the problems of ITIL and I will not cover all those as most of them have been entered in IT4IT but I’ll mention one. There is no customer service and support. Users can either request services or call to report incidents. Incidents fall in the same stream as events. Very technology centric. Fresh ideas from the 1980´s.

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