Which framework is right for your business?
I really enjoyed the Service Desk and IT Support Show (SITS18) in London in early June 2018. This event has a great balance between the trade show, where you can talk to many different vendors; presentations, where you can learn new things; and networking, where you can catch up with all the great people who come to learn and share.
One session that I attended was a panel discussion called “Which framework is right for your business, if any?”. It was hosted by Duncan Watkins from Forrester and panellists included Andrea Kis (Deloitte), Barclay Rae (itSMF UK), Rosh Hosany (PwC), and Tony Price (Virtual Clarity).
I had expected each of the panellists to talk about the frameworks that they helped create, and to explain why their favourite framework is the one we should all adopt, so I was pleasantly surprised when that didn’t happen.
The session started with Tony Price giving us his definition of a framework:
Broad overview, outline, or skeleton of interlinked items which supports a particular approach to a specific objective, and serves as a guide that can be modified as required by adding or deleting items
After a bit of a discussion the panel agreed that this captured the idea of a framework, and although I would have preferred a slightly shorter and easier definition I do agree that this one does capture the essence of what a framework is.
The panellists did speak, fairly briefly, about the specific frameworks they have worked with. These included ITIL, IT4IT, and VerISM, with brief mentions of COBIT, ISO/IEC 20000 and others (yes I know the ISO standard isn't a framework, but it did get mentioned). They had lots of good things to say about all of them, and said very little to contradict the positives.
For me, the session really took off after Rosh Hosany said that people shouldn’t talk about frameworks, they should ask what problem they are trying to solve and focus on how to do that. Her view was supported by Barclay who said that people shouldn’t pick a framework, they should take bits from all of them, but only if they are appropriate for the organisation and its context. Andie agreed, reminding us that VerISM was developed with exactly this in mind, and Barclay pointed out that the ITIL guiding principles help people to adopt and adapt the parts of any framework that can help them. Tony said that as an industry we are not very mature; organisations want to be offered a single framework that will solve all their problems. Rosh emphasised that organisations can be very different. Some want everything defined in detail, others want a more flexible approach. The right solution depends on the context – and that context often includes an increasing need to deliver at velocity in order to meet the rapid transformations that organisations are going through. A framework that fits the organisation’s culture can help to ensure the organization meets its objectives.
After this the panel seemed to converge on a position that they all agreed on. Frameworks are helpful, but even more important is a good dash of common sense, and an understanding that we are dealing with people and not just technology and processes. All of these frameworks have some great content, and every IT organisation should start by thinking about the problems they are trying to solve, and should then adopt the specific elements of each framework that will help them, and that will work in their context.
I came away from this session thinking that actually our industry is becoming much more mature. Something that might have been a confrontational “my framework is better than yours” session, turned out to be a wise discussion between sensible people interested in understanding what their clients need, and how to help them get there.