We’re often asked, which is the best IT framework?  What is the answer?

Remember when it was all really simple?

Years ago, running an IT department was simpler.  Complexity was relatively low, and if something went wrong, there would generally be a clever guy who could fix it.

Then, we started to identify common themes in our ways of working, which were generally accepted good practices, and before we knew it, Best Practice was born.

Before long, we started to write down this Best Practice, with the view of sharing it, and helping organisations to adopt these best practices for themselves.  We invented the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL), which spawned numerous books, culminating in the “service lifecycle” approach espoused in ITIL v3 back in 2011.

In the meantime, we developed a thriving education and certification industry, in which I was once heavily involved as a trainer.  So, we all had a common language, and we understood the basic principles of taking a service from development into production.

A framework for every occasion

On the back of the success of ITIL, other frameworks and approaches came to prominence.  TOGAF, COBIT, ISO 20000, SIAM, DevOps, Agile, Cloud, MOF, Lean, we embraced them all!! (some more than others I admit!).

But one thing was a constant challenge.  Relevance.  How could these frameworks / approaches / best practices possibly keep up with the pace of technological change, and the resulting change that was needed in IT ways of working?

The second challenge was Adaption.  We couldn’t possibly just adopt every best practice piece of advice, although some tried, notably by introducing overly bureaucratic processes which “complied” with best practice advice.  I never did figure out how you could be compliant with advice.  So, how could we not only adopt the principles, but adapt them to our needs?  Organisations achieved this with only varying levels of success.

Look how far we’ve come

The relationship between the business and the traditional IT department has changed, along with the organisation’s ways of working and underlying culture.  Today’s IT leaders are not just techies who can manage people.  They understand the business in which they’re working, and they work closely with their business colleagues to envision, develop, build and operate services which have technology at their core.  There is much talk about Digital Transformation, and it is precisely this programme of change which has driven this new type of behaviour, even if few IT leaders have found themselves on a conscious digital transformation journey.

But we’re getting a new ITIL.  That’ll fix everything right?

To support this massive shift in focus, where do we look today for the best technology management frameworkITIL v3 needs a refresh, and the other frameworks and approaches available to us on tend to tell half the story.  I’ve read that ITIL 4 will be with us in early 2019.  A new reimagining of ITIL for the digital age, but I do fear that we’re moving so quickly, it will be outdated before it has begun.  I hope I’m wrong.

So, where do we turn?

My advice is to take the best of the frameworks which are available to us and build an IT operating model which supports the new ways of working.  Frameworks are not mutually exclusive.  They are ingredients in a recipe which are supposed to be mixed!  Also, be sure to look at VeriSM.  This is a new approach for IT Service Management which recognises the complexity involved in delivering todays IT services, and the fact that each organisation will have very different requirements from its operating model.

Think of VeriSM as the structure (or the Mesh as it refers to it), within which your other frameworks reside.  It also gives us a nice structure of its own, around which we can build our operating model.  I really like the non-prescriptive nature of VeriSM.  I like how it acknowledges that we must mix and match with other frameworks.  And I like that organisations are starting to adopt it, and are seeing benefits from doing so.

If you’re in the midst of a Digital Transformation programme (consciously or subconsciously!), looking to refine your IT Operating Model or are just confused by the variety of IT frameworks in existence today, then please contact us, and we’ll help guide you to the right answer.

Also, take a look at our ultimate guide to Design + Build of your IT Operating Model for more insights and advice.