Book review - Metrics for Service Management Designing for ITIL
by Peter Brooks - Review by Alexander Kist
The very nature of Best Practice guidance is that people like Peter Brooks publish materials such as the book discussed here, into the Body of Knowledge. Allegedly by command of her (British) Majesty’s Government, through its agency OGC, the “registered trademark”-symbol (®) appears after the acronym “ITIL” everywhere. An editor or publisher may have even introduced it in this article.
Regardless of what Her Majesty’s loyal servants may believe, ITIL as a Body of Knowledge is, by its nature, in the public domain. As Peter strongly recommends about his own book, one should use what is applicable, adapt what needs to be adapted and disregard what does not apply to the situation at hand. In this truly global market place of Open Source and Public Domain it is ridiculous to try and regulate the use of the acronym that identifies a Body of Knowledge. The quality of the materials that become part of the Body of Knowledge is properly safeguarded by the community.
Knowledgeable professionals are perfectly capable to determine (and tell each other) what is good and what is not. On top of that, organizations like the itSMF for years have been endorsing publications abut ITSM that meet certain standards and have refused to do so with materials that don’t . Publishers like VHP and TSO have a reputation to protect and will not publish materials that do not meet their high standards.
And then there are book reviews.....
A long overdue complete (and up to date) Reference Guide on Metrics in ITSM. My first thought when I received my copy of Metrics for Service Management: Designing for ITIL was “I wish I’d had this earlier”. I could have saved so much time designing metrics and reporting if I’d had this book.
As I am sure all ITSM consultants do, with each project that I have been involved in, I have expanded
my “bag of tricks” with the better ideas and materials developed in the project. Thus, I have collected a lot of material over the years that is similar to what is in this book. But these things never get structured and indexed properly. And by the nature of collecting over time, it is loosely based on all subsequent versions of all the standards, frameworks, methods etc.
With this book Peter has successfully made my entire section “Measurements and Metrics” redundant, along with most of “Reporting” and chunks of various other stuff! One should study this book, not read it cover-to- cover. More than anything else, it is a Reference Guide. It is sectioned “the ITILv3 way” in lifecycle phases and with that, it seems most useful in ITILbased organizations. The text relies heavily on the readers’ understanding of the concepts “Goals”, “Critical Success Factors (CSFs)” and “Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s)” and the relationships between them. It is advisable to carefully read pages 1 -10 (chapters 1 and 2) and take note of the TOC and the appendices. If you are designing Metrics from scratch, start off with the Service Design section and pay specific attention to chapter 6.
The author recommends, for proper background, to read all the books in the bibliography. As that list contains (apart from his own earlier book on Metrics), most of ITILv3 2011, Cobit 5, MSP, MoR, BABOK, and more, I actually do not recommend that. I would say that you need to be a fairly seasoned ITSM professional, already possessing most of the knowledge contained in the bibliography, before you even attempt to introduce Metrics in an organization.
At the implicit request of the author, I have tried to find errors, omissions, faults. I didn’t. I did find several examples of things I would do differently and some that I would enjoy having a strong discussion about. Which makes it fit for purpose and an excellent tool to use in the (re)design phase of a Service Management System1. If I have any criticism, it would be the order and relative importance of the sections. Rather than slavishly following ITIL in that respect, especially in a book that has “Designing for ITIL” as its subtitle, it would have been more logical to put more emphasis on “Service Design”. If you are an experienced consultant, manager or other professional in the IT Service Management realm, you are going to be exposed to (re)designing and/or evaluating Metrics. When that happens, get this book!
This book, an expert-level title describing the use and implementation of Metrics within the context of the ITIL 2011 is available from your local itSMF Bookstore or directly from Van Haren Publishing which also has available ITIL V3 and ITIL V2.