“ITIL, ITIL, ITIL” is all that many of us hear these days when it comes to improving IT service management (ITSM) maturity or the availability of ITSM good/best practice and guidance (for the “Little Britain” fans out there imagine Tom Baker reading this intro). Many talk (and write) about the alternative or complementary frameworks, methodologies, and standards; but neither COBIT nor ISO 20000 (amongst others) have yet gained the market traction and collective consciousness of ITIL, the “ITSM best practice framework.”

ITIL is and will continue to be the de facto choice for most IT infrastructure and operations (I&O) professionals. Having said this, however, many I&O organizations continue to look at the possibilities of using multiple frameworks, methodologies, and standards in tandem to help better deliver against business and IT issues – what is commonly called an “ITIL plus” or “plus” strategy, e.g., ITIL plus COBIT.

USMBOK anyone?

Another body of service management good/best practice, the Universal Service Management Body of Knowledge (USMBOK), has long been lauded by ITSM thought leaders; but it has, to date, lacked the profile of ITIL in particular. Importantly, it works with, and is differentiated from, ITIL – it is not an ITIL competitor, more of a “companion piece” that supplements ITIL on both strategic and operational levels. Hopefully you noticed the deliberate naming of USMBOK – that there is no “IT” in it. It is about service management not IT service management – a solution to the issue that we often place too much emphasis on the “IT,” and not enough on the “SM,” element of “ITSM.”

USMBOK offers guidance on service management in an IT environment (or other environments should you wish) and can help to align I&O thinking to the need for customer-centricity in addition to the service-centricity espoused by ITIL. It extends (IT) service management to encompass thinking and guidance on the “new service society,” the need to both understand and demonstrate “value” in a customer context, and the pursuit of customer advocacy and loyalty. All of which are key to delivering IT (or any other) services in a “reputation economy.” A good customer quote on the power of USMBOK is “The USMBOK is valuable because it focuses on service and then describes the management practices related to the service.” (Please refer to my previous blog on how these are some of the key ITSM challenges I&O professionals will face in 2012 and beyond.)

TSO announcement on USMBOK

So why am I suddenly “talking USMBOK”? Yesterday, The Stationery Office (TSO) – the publishers for ITIL and PRINCE2 – announced that a series of USMBOK publications have been included in its International Best Practice Library. A vindication of not only the need for “more than ITIL” and the changing IT delivery and customer landscapes, but also the continued work of USMBOK’s author, Ian Clayton, to move IT service delivery from the inside-out status quo of supply-driven, “20th century IT” to outside-in thinking and actions that are driven by customer needs.

My Jerry Springer-like final thought

Yes, this might be somewhat of a “puff-piece” on USMBOK, but I would also like to think that it is a big neon sign pointing you in the direction of how I&O organizations need to change the way they view and ultimately deliver IT services to the business; and the fact that we need to support the people not the technology. The business expects and the core USMBOK mantra of “What business are we in?” “Who do we serve?” “How can we help our customers succeed?” is the foundation of good service management (yes, I deliberately left the “IT” out again).

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