Just finished a great training session on Service Strategy over the weekend – great in terms of some insightful discussions with some senior IT folks who attended the training. Some of the discussions were essentially clarifying some very basic concepts, at the same time called for in-depth debates taking scenarios to establish a concrete understanding of those. Thought of blogging the essence of some of those discussions.

One of the area that called for lengthy discussions were on the ‘Service Assets’ and ‘Customer Assets’:

To set the context for Starters: ITIL® (especially the Service Strategy) views a ‘Service’ in terms of Business outcomes facilitated. Basically, these Business outcomes are delivered by the Customer Assets (Customer’s  Resources and Capabilities – people, processes, information, business services etc etc).

What does the IT Service do? They enhance the performance of those Customer Assets to deliver better, or increased business outcomes (and hence delivers business value).

How does the IT service provider deliver these Services? It is by effective use of Service assets (Their resources and capabilities).

So in this context:

  • Service Assets are the Resources and Capabilities of the Service Provider (Service Provider’s Assets) that are utilized to deliver the IT Services to the Business/Customer.
  • Customer Assets are the Resources and Capabilities of the Customer (Customer’s Assets) that are utilized to deliver business outcomes. These assets make use of the IT Services to enhance their performance or to remove some constraints.
  • The Service Provider has to define a Service always in connection to the specific Customer Assets to which the Utility of the service is delivered to (ITIL describes this as the Service Archetype-Customer Asset combination).

So every Service has been defined, planned, designed and delivered with specific Customer Assets in mind. So far so good.

One of the discussion started with some very basic question:

  • Are ‘Users’ and ‘Customer assets’ the same? Or in other words, are Users always the Customer Assets that we talk about in IT Service Definition?
  • If not, how do we differentiate users from the Customer Assets that we are talking about?

The question arised from the basic understanding that ITSM and ITIL used to establish so far: Services are used by Users (and paid for by the customer).

Some of the salient points that were derived from the discussion were: (more…)

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ITIL Certifications are still in demand – and most probably, in growing demand.

Training organizations are asked, and they work towards “Passing rate” claims; some even with commitments – or Warranty of passing.

But what about Utility of ITIL trainings and certifications? Are they really improving the knowledge level of the people? 

Had an “interesting” experience of interviewing a couple of persons who are Certified ITIL V3 Experts last week: Those have completed ITIL v2 foundation, ITIL V2 Service Manager and ITIL V3 Manager Bridge certification; whose resume boasted of 7-10 years of Service management experience with few of the Largest global IT Companies.

At the end of the interview, I was particularly sad: Not about that persons, or my (and their) wasted time; but regarding the sorry state of ITIL Certification and its value in the Industry…

Note: The objective of this post is not to blame or ridicule those particular persons; I am actually trying to high-light the knowledge level or understanding of a person who is Certified as ‘ITIL V3 Expert’. Enough has been discussed on the internet as a medium about this concern – but here is a live scenario as it evolved.

What will the image or value such a certification be holding across the industry, if the so called ‘experts’ have a knowledge/understanding level such as this.

I am giving below a recollection of a few questions and answers from the interviews (it is not verbatim or exact words used, but as per my memory- However, absolutely no exaggeration is applied here) :

Q1: What are the key changes V3 has brought in compared to V2?

A: See, there are a large number of concepts and processes that are included in ITIL. When you accommodate all these concepts into two books, the books become very big and complicated, and hence in V3 these set of concepts are re-organized into five books covering the whole life cycle.

Q 1a: So, are you saying other than the structural changes in documenting the practices, there are no new concepts/changes brought in by V3?

A: (After a pause) Well, I don’t think so – nothing other than minor terminology changes

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Rob England (ITSkeptic) said in one of his tweets:

“Back in 80’s , the highest bandwidth channel for data transfer over a range of <5 miles  was a boy on a bike with a basket full of tapes.”

A few minutes later, he also pointed to an article – which is “interesting” to say the least!:

A company in South Africa has done a drill to prove they could use pigeons to tranfer data faster than their telecom provider, Telkom!  Read the story here.

Well, not as a universal truth, but under some context – “* conditions apply!” 😉

The article says internet bandwidth is a growing problem in South Africa.

In the drill/experiment/demonstration/drill or what ever you want to call it, an IT company used an 11 month old pigeon to transfer data disc tied to its legs. The pigeon transferred the data across 80 Km (around 50 miles) in 1 hour and eight minutes; including the data download, the tranfer took a little over two hours – which, reportedly was the time taken to transfer around 4% of data over the telkom’s link!

Okay- enough of fun there . The points to ponder from the story, are these:

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ITIL V3 introduces a very valid concept towards IT Service management – How to create Value to customers through combination of Utility and Warranty.

It is established well – that a service (or for that matter a product) delivered to the customer should have both utility (functionality/characteristic/aspects of the service which makes it Fit for purpose) and warranty (assurances/SLAs that make it Fit for use) – in order to create value.

While appreciating the concept and its aptness in Service managmement, it also makes one think about the value delivered by the ITIL best practice framework to the customers.

Without any doubt, ITIL delivers utility- so it is fit for purpose.
But does that have an associated warranty that gives an assurance to the customers (or the organizations making use of it)?

(more…)