Verax Consulting

What does VeriSM mean for the ITIL community?

Today, Jan van Bon asked on LinkedIn what impact VeriSM would have on the ITIL community. This is my answer.

First things first. VeriSM may have no impact on ITIL. Not all new shiny things are taken up en masse, even if eminent people are involved. No doubt, market forces will decide.

I see some positives and negatives in VeriSM, though my knowledge of it is sparse (for good reason, which we'll come to in a moment).

What's really happening in IT?

But first, what I see in client organisations doesn’t support the idea that ITSM as we know it is either succeeding or failing. What I see is good leadership and poor leadership, good organisation and poor organisation, and good use and poor use of existing frameworks.

The most relevant point of those observations is the poor use of existing frameworks. Of the many causes of that poor use, the failure to grasp the concept of the service lifecycle and the unwitting focus on parts of that lifecycle to the detriment of others is the most important. So we chase after ‘point solutions’ – Devops and Agile for instance - without emphasizing that things begin with strategy and the customer, and end with day-to-day service and the customer.

Regarding the service lifecycle, IT4IT is an attempt to systematize it further. IT4IT unfortunately doesn't seem to have much traction. But practitioners like myself will continue to focus on the lifecycle models we have built over long years in the trenches. These models are effective, holistic and strategic.

Lifecycle models operate at a level above all of the ITIL processes but are built from them and other elements. Service Lifecycle models are also a level above the point solutions already mentioned (which aren’t frameworks or processes but are part belief systems, part techniques).

The point I am making here is that I have a natural suspicion of attempts to 'integrate' anything - Devops for example - with Service Management. Devops already is service management - as is coding, writing an IT strategy, or resetting a password. The work of integration is no less than what we do every day when we manage services, and the best way to approach that task is to have a firm grasp of the bigger picture of the lifecycle. This is a subtle point perhaps, but unfortunately I don't know if VeriSM addresses the point, or is just using current buzzwords to drum up interest in itself.

Pros and Cons of VeriSM

Pros of VeriSM 

Anything that attempts to improve the way in which work is organised to meet internal and external (market) challenges is to be welcomed. I hope it is as good as the calibre of the people involved suggest that it should be.

Cons of VeriSM

It’s hard to find out anything about it without buying an expensive book or signing up for Foundation and other training (which makes Jan's original question moot). There are high level statements on the web about VeriSM dealing with the usual suspects (Lean, Agile, Devops) but I have searched in vain for any detail. I want to like VeriSM, I even want to be involved - I think! - but involved in what, exactly?

But imagine that… Foundation training in Service Management after all these years… I think I would rather nail my tongue to the desk. Who on earth in their right mind (don’t answer, there are probably thousands) would sign up for training about something that hasn’t declared what it is?

But there is more to that than personal aversion to more service management training! Why the expense? Why not publish the framework (is that what it is?) as an open source PDF and let a thousand flowers bloom? Invite feedback and improvement by showing us what’s under the hood. If the people responsible for VeriSM have already done that – my apologies – please point me to the document and I'll post the link here.

What do you think?

About the Author Dan McCarthy

Dan helps IT leaders to assess and improve their organisations and processes. He writes about improving working life, processes, and efficiency, with some left-field perspectives from his Anthropology background. Has been sighted lurking near pianos and guitars, as if to play them.

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