This publication is aimed at those working in or with small and medium sized businesses (SMBs). However, as you will see from the commentary I believe that the content is also relevant and beneficial to large-scale organisations.
This book covers the entire ITIL® service lifecycle and explores how the guidance can be scaled for small and medium sized businesses.
Beginner to advanced
I was interested in reviewing this book as I had held its predecessor – “ITIL Practices in Small IT Units” or ITIL in SITU to the in-crowd – in high esteem.
I was not disappointed. One of the main reasons I loved the 1995 original has been retained and improved in this – the third version. I would buy this book for Chapter 13 alone, but more of that later as the preceding chapters have much value to add as well.
This publication begins on solid ground by recognizing that not every SMB is on a journey to becoming a large organisation. Being a SMB is often a deliberate, successful and correct strategy for a successful business.
The initial chapters provide an overview of the ITIL® service lifecycle so that the book can be read by those without any previous knowledge of ITIL® although I would suggest it be read following the reading material such as “The Official Introduction to the ITIL® Service Lifecycle”. The rest of the book will be easier understood if this is the case.
Chapter 5 explores the differences between a large organisation and a SMB and how those differences relate to the adoption of ITSM best practice guidance as in ITIL®. Chapter 6 onwards looks at each of the stages of the service lifecycle – Service Strategy, Service Design, Service Transition, Service Operation and Continual Service Improvement – and how it can be scaled down without sacrificing usability or benefit. It is important to note that “scaled down” does not equal “cut down”. All the key elements of service management remain within this publication.
Of particular interest in the service lifecycle chapters is the excellent guidance on sourcing options for the processes and activities within Service Design. The book explores where they can be outsourced, where they should remain internal and where there can be a combination of both.
There are lots of diagrams showing the “full” process and a scaled down version of the process with an overlay of the latter on to the former. One criticism I would make is that I think some of the scaled down process diagrams are over-simplified even for the smallest organisation and that once the organisation started producing work instructions to support the scaled down process, they would soon have a procedure that looked somewhat like the full scale process.
I let out a big whoopee when reading the Service Operations chapter, which like other chapters discusses the opportunities to combine roles, activities and processes but provides explicit guidance to avoid Problem Management becoming an extension of managing Incidents. ALL SIZE organisations please take note!
So why is Chapter 13 so special? This chapter talks about how roles can be combined to cover all ITSM activities. An example is provided where 45 key roles within the ITIL core guidance are combined into 8 roles grouped by service capability. This is aimed at the SMB but no organisation, large or small, has infinite resources. Where resources are genuinely limited, all organisations can use this guidance to combine “like” roles and achieve economies of scale. This is a good reference for any manager or practitioner working on ITIL® adoption and wondering how to resource it.
That being said, I believe there is a lot more that could be written in this area such as the roles NOT to combine and why, to help organisations avoid some common mistakes. There are also some discrepancies between the list of roles in ITIL® that the book provides and the example of combinations. For example, the ITIL® roles of Business Process Owner and Process Owner are not reflected in the example. The example introduces the role of IT programme manager and IT project manager that are not included in the full list of ITIL® roles.
Cautionary guidance on ITSM tool selection is also provided with appendices containing examples of a Service Catalogue, SLA and OLA.
My opinion is that this book deserves 4 stars out of 5. The missing star is due to some over simplification in areas, some discrepancies and the missed opportunity to provide more guidance on role combinations. If this book gets revised as a result of the 2011 edition of the ITIL® core books, therein lies an opportunity!
Rating 4.0 stars out of 5.