Caveat Emptor: ITIL “Compliant” Does Not Exist

If you’re looking for software to help you implement ITIL (IT Infrastructure Library) in your IT department beware vendors that claim their products are “ITIL compliant.”

Why? Because there is no such thing.

“To my mind it’s quite funny,” said Darren Thompson, senior director in Symantec Global Service’s Solutions Engineering Group. “People talk about being ITIL compliant, which is actually, strictly speaking, you can’t be compliant against something that’s not auditable.”

A quick (and completely unscientific) Google search of the term turns up 29,400 references. To be fair, not all of these related to software vendors plying their wares. There were also many articles referring to this trend as far back as 2003.

But, as ITIL and ITSM (IT service management) gain broader acceptance and adoption, such claims are bound to resonate with buyers.

“That just represents a fundamental misunderstanding in the marketplace about what (ITIL) actually is,” said Thompson. “ITIL compliant doesn’t make much sense.”

There is the more recent ISO 20000 standard, however, which, may at some point, have auditable standards associated with it, but Thompson has yet to see anyone setting up such a practice.

In the mean time, its best to understand that ITIL and it’s implementation arm, ITSM, is just a set of guidelines developed by the U.K.’s Office of Government Commerce on how best to do certain things inside of IT.

“Be careful of this whole business around ITIL compliance because there’s no such thing essentially,” cautioned Thompson.