By: David Norfolk, Practice Leader - Development, Bloor Research
Published: 19th June 2013
Copyright Bloor Research © 2013
I feel a need to comment, somewhat tardily, on April's innovative joint venture involving the UK Government and Capita, which will exploit the government's Best Management Practice IP (basically, the PRINCE2 project management and ITIL IT services standards) in the interests of the UK taxpayer. According to Inside Government CAB 044-13, "it is expected to boost returns for taxpayers by £500 million over 10 years, and drive growth through exports projected to be worth £600 million over the period". Which sounds good, except that the potential value of what Best Practice could deliver to UK plc might well exceed the millions you might get just from selling it. And, a web search on other Capita ventures isn't entirely reassuring.
One reason I haven't commented earlier is that I've been a bit distracted from ITIL recently and I'm really not sure what this will actually mean in practice. Perhaps ITIL will take off worldwide—or perhaps it will become to be seen as just another commercial 'methodology' cash cow. Perhaps, as a writer, I'll never mention ITIL again, in case some 'brand management' lawyer comes after me for royalties in ITIL terms such as Configuration Management. Surely not, that term is in common use, but Capita has to make that £500 million somewhere... I feel a bit like Zhou Enlai when asked about the impact of the French Revolution: "it's too early to tell" (although it appears that Zhou may have thought he was actually talking about the 1968 Paris riots).
The real issue, for me, is that I want everyone to use Best Management Practice. In the past, I've suggested that ITIL, in particular, should be given away free, so as to make it available to everyone in UK plc—but with this new commercial model, will ITIL training and expertise only be available, in practice, to big established firms that can afford it?
We are promised commercial investment which will extend the global reach of PRINCE2 and ITIL and enable further development of both products. But isn't it also possible that commercial development will concentrate on the cosmetics of training courses and similar cash generators (Paul Pindar, chief executive of Capita plc, talks about "digitising services and introducing experiential learning methods such as gaming and simulation") at the expense of cutting-edge innovation in ITIL itself? I get the impression that quite a lot of the contributions to ITIL (I know people who contribute) are largely altruistic, from volunteers—will there be the same incentive to contribute to a commercial organisation?
I really do hope that this joint venture is good news for ITIL, specifically—because I think there is a lot about ITIL and managing business automation as service delivery that could be exploited, with common sense, well outside of the 'traditional' ITIL community. I am just a little bit concerned that I won't be able to explore any of that in future unless I become an accredited ITIL guru at great expense and pass my writing past a Capita censor in case it damages the lucrative ITIL 'brand'. I do hope I'm wrong, but I'm sure I won't be the only analyst with concerns about this new venture (see Stephen Mann of Forrester, writing in ZDNet here, for example).
Posted: 20th June 2013 | By Peter Brooks :
You make some good points. Change isn't always good and being motivated by revenue and profit can lead to short-termism and distorted thinking.
It isn't entirely commercial, though, it is a joint venture. So there is a chance, for optimists to see anyway, of the best of public and private producing something more valuable than either could alone.
You're right about the potential benefit of service management using ITIL advice, it can improve value delivery enormously across industry. Perhaps it needs a commercial edge to be marketed properly so it isn't seen as an 'IT thing', a 'Techie thing' or just management advice - it should contribute to building good business governance.
Posted: 23rd June 2013 | By Robert E Stroud :
The primary objective of the arrangement is to drive revenues back to the UK Government. That said there is a real opportunity to accelerate the value from the frameworks with balance and good execution. I have documented many of my thoughts a month ago in my blog "Can ITIL Survive" (http://community.ca.com/blogs/itil/archive/2013/05/09/can-itil-survive.aspx), the JV needs to swiftly move to reinforce the value of the frameworks including ITIL before they continue to become irrelevant.
Robert E Stroud CGEIT CRISC
Posted: 26th June 2013 | By David Whelbourn :
We use ITIL to support our shared service delivery which include Accounts Payable, Payroll and IT. The underpinning operating model for our service management is ITIL. It can easily be used to support Service Management of any type.
Like you David I too am concerned that the privatisation of ITIL and PRINCE2 has the potential to have the opposite effect and reduce usage because the organization wants to make them into cash-cows. If you want adoption do not charge a licence fee. The current model has enabled both PRINCE2 and ITIL to be globally accepted. Here in North America ITIL isnt seen as a UK methodology, and PRINCE2 is just beginning its growth.
I suggest that the best practice material should be viewed as an infrastructure (much like roads or railways) with the rewards and true value for UK Plc should come from enabling our firms early adopter and years of experience in using them to spur services focused on training, consulting and certification of professionals around the globe. Let private industry do what it does best.
Use PRINCE2 and ITIL as a mechanism to enable the huge amount of knowledge and experience in the UK to be exported around the world selling services that enable organizations to get the best out of the frameworks.
Put a small subscription fee on accessing detailed guidance, enable global membership of Best Practices community and provide access to manuals online as part of the membership benefits. Beef up the current Best practice website. Finance research / case studies through the universities (not only UK) that have PM and IT Service Management programmes. Coordinate with the ITSMF, PM associations and the PMI to enable the promotion of best practices.
All this can generate revenue without for UK Plc without the need to lock down access, invoke brand lawyers etc....
Also remember it is volunteers like me who contribute to the development of the best practices and if it turns into a cash cow, why would I give my time voluntarily?
Only time will tell if the new JV seeks to take the 'easy way' or a more longer term view. I can assure you the apparently easy way will lead to a slow decline in use there is plenty of lessons to be learned from the way others have tried to exploit methodologies etc...
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