The power of knowing “a little about a lot” – A guide to ITSM education
A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing. But a little knowledge about a lot of things can be very good, if it helps you understand that those things exist and what they exist for.
Yet a lot of knowledge can also be a dangerous thing – if you know nothing else. To the person who knows only a hammer every problem becomes a nail – and the better they are with the hammer the more dangerous they are if the problem is a circuit board.
This is a situation that many of us see in the IT Service Management (ITSM) arena.
Our own Navvia ITIL® Foundations course (like all others that follow the syllabus) makes the point early on that ITIL is not the be-all and end-all of ITSM. But then we spend the rest of the 3 days (as the syllabus expects) focused exclusively on ITIL®. That is as it should be.
But for most people, unfortunately, that is where their ITSM education stops. You end up with a person who knows a little bit about ITIL® and virtually nothing about anything else regarding ITSM.
Other people don’t even get to go that far – their exposure to ITSM might be an 1-hour ITIL® awareness session.
This is not a knock on ITIL®. Far from it – ITIL is, without any question, the most used best-practice source for ITSM. And it is not a knock on widening (or deepening) exposure to ITIL® – the more generally known and accepted that the ITIL concepts and terminology are, the better. What is a problem in many IT shops is that ITIL® is seen as all that is required. And to be honest, for many people whose primary focus is on other things, this may be fine.
But for anyone that you expect to play a leadership role in ITSM – who are going to be involved in shaping it in your organization – while you will likely want them to acquire deeper knowledge in particular aspects of ITIL®, you should also make sure they acquire at least rudimentary knowledge in other areas.
Your Practice Leaders, Service Owners, Process Owners and Managers, your ITSM Continual Service Improvement (CSI) Manager and CSI Specialists can all do their jobs better if they are aware that ITIL® is not the only place to turn to – and that there is a lot to be learned about ITSM from other sources.
At Navvia, we realize that ITSM leadership requires both breadth and depth of knowledge.
Navvia customers have access to free pre-recorded ITIL® Overview and both recorded and virtual instructor-led ITIL® Foundations courses. We can also deliver to any customer any and all of the ITIL® Intermediate and Managing-Across-the Lifecycle courses.
But their ITSM leaders need breadth of knowledge too.
So, what are some of other areas they need to know something about? And how does knowing something about them complements what they pick up from ITIL?
One of those other areas is ISO/IEC 20000 – usually simply called ISO 20000. ISO® 20000 is an international standard for IT Service Management – something that an IT organization can be independently certified against – signifying that it understands and actually does those things considered essential to good IT Service Management. In some environments, one of the requirements to even bid on opportunities to provide IT services is being able to produce evidence of ISO® 20000 certification. But even where that is not the case, ISO® 20000 brings a basic set of “musts” to the table that helps you determine, from all the “coulds” found in ITIL, the things that are critically important.
Another is CobiT®. CobiT® documents a set of control objectives that essentially says what IT management must do to demonstrate to their enterprise that they are doing the correct things to enable the enterprise to meet its regulatory and legal obligations. An understanding of CobiT® will enable ITSM practice leaders and process owners to ensure that their ITSM processes are designed and are being conducted in a way that will enable auditors to validate IT’s engagement and compliance with the legal and regulatory requirements that bind the enterprise.
Then there is ISO®/IEC 38500. This is a standard that clarifies the nature of IT Governance, clearly specifies the responsibilities of the enterprise for IT Governance and thus clearly differentiates IT Governance (an enterprise responsibility) from IT Management (an IT responsibility). Awareness of ISO® 38500 gives your ITSM leaders the ability to relate to the enterprise according to clear protocols and employ ITIL effectively for what it does best – IT Management.
Another element that can help your ITSM practice leaders and support teams is Lean IT. Lean IT is a discipline set that has been drawn from the well-tested methodologies of Six Sigma and Lean Services, selecting only the parts of those disciplines that best meet the needs of the very complicated world of IT Services. Lean IT combines the data-driven disciplines of Six Sigma with the practitioner-empowerment principles of Lean Services to give an ITSM practice a set of “how-to” mechanics that complement the “what” of ITIL.
Lastly, there is a need to be able to integrate all of those into a holistic “ITSM Practice”. ITIL does talk about the importance of considering ITSM as a Practice, but does not go into any real explanation of what that really means or how to approach it. It is our belief that the optimal way to forge ITSM is by developing a vision of that ITSM Practice and evolving ITSM through such a Practice, drawing on ITIL, ISO® 20000, ISO® 38500, CobiT® and Lean IT as needed.
We offer to our Navvia customers free virtual instructor-led awareness courses that cover introductions to these key components:
- The nature and structure of ITSM as a Practice
- Lean IT
- ISO® 20000
- ISO® 38500
It might be that certain ITSM leaders need more education in aspects of one or more of these areas, just as they might need more education in some aspects of ITIL®, but as a minimum, they should all understand what these other knowledge areas encompass, so they will be able to know when one of these may be the applicable source for something they are trying to do. You first have to know what you don’t know.
Basically, what you want to achieve for your ITSM leadership group is the right balance of knowledge for each person in each role – a lot about a little, and a little about a lot.
ISO® is the registered name of International Organization for Standardization.