No, this isn’t about the returning of your ITIL books to ITIL’s makers (just think how much they would cost to post) but more of the reaping of the knowledge and experience held within the ITSM community (ITIL’s creators, publishers, trainers, consultants, software vendors, ITSM practitioners, and ancillary roles such as analysts) for the benefit of all.

This is by no means a new idea. Various conversations have taken place over the years to create lower-level, more granular, and ultimately more practical best practice information that is freely available to ITSM practitioners. Whether it is in the form of blogs, white papers, discussion threads, podcasts, special interest groups, or “free” training and events, such information is invaluable to the IT people “at the coal face” who don’t want to have to “reinvent the wheel” nor to have to read through a set of ITIL books which IMO isn’t really designed for the hectic work lives of ITSM practitioners. Practitioners just don’t have the time even if they have the inclination. They will also struggle to find really practical help and assistance from such a "sea of text."

Before I continue though, I think we need to lay our cards on the table. Nothing in this world is really free; there are normally strings attached. Taking my own situation as an example, I have recently written “free,” publicly available blogs that are aimed at giving back to the ITSM community (such as “Getting Started With ITIL – The 30-Minute Version” and “Where Is All The Incident Classification Best Practice?”). But you can’t get away from the fact that they “plug” me as an analyst and my employer as a provider of ITSM-related advisory services (see, I can’t help myself, with multiple plugs for my work already in this blog).

Giving back is not uncommon though. Outside of the ITSM community one of the best examples is of lawyers that do pro bono (shortened from “pro bono public” a phrase derived from Latin meaning "for the public good") work. If lawyers can do it, then so surely can people with hearts (sorry lawyers, I do know some nice examples).

So why shouldn’t people working in, and benefitting from, the ITSM community give back?

The short answer is that they do already, as mentioned above. For instance:

  • There are various ITSM-related podcasts, where the participants “play” with no remuneration, with the podcasts ultimately paid for by Pink Elephant or via ITSM software vendor sponsorship.
  • Barclay Rae, an independent ITSM consultant active on the “Rest of the World” ITSM podcast, has a webpage dedicated to content he gives away.
  • There is not an ITSM software vendor that hasn’t provided some insight by way of white papers, thought-leadership papers, and ROI justification documents and calculators (OK, I admit that sometimes these are a little too “and you can’t do any of this without the most spectacular ITSM tool known to man”).
  • However, the biggest act of ITSM generosity has to be the ITSM Extreme Makeover 2011 where a collection of “IT service providers will donate products and services with a total combined value expected to exceed at least US $250K” to a worthy organization wanting/needing to increase their ITSM maturity.

So what am I whining about?

To me the issue is that all of these are good (and sometimes great) but are offered up from a “push” perspective, i.e., what we think ITSM practitioners want/need? I believe that we need to find out what would make the most difference to the lives of our ITSM community peers first and then target efforts to address these opportunities.

Therefore, I think that we need to do at least five things (as a community) to help here:

  1. Recognize that we are a community and a community that often struggles with the same issues (particularly with ITIL adoption).
  2. Offer up our time to help out others (and often ourselves).
  3. Identify where our efforts need to be applied (for example with the creation of a set of standard (core) ITSM metrics and benchmarks).
  4. Deliver on our promises to the ITSM community.
  5. Never stop trying to improve our collective ITSM capabilities and the quality of delivered IT and business services.

OK, I’ll step off my soapbox and leave you to think. Do you want to help? How can you help?

Personally, as soon as I publish this I am going to call Ben Clacy, CEO of the itSMF UK and Secretary of itSMF International (I think), and offer my services. I want, and in many ways need, this to work.

October 2011 Update: Please take the ITSM Practitioner Health Check



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