This interview with John Stewart was held by Oleg Skrynnik and Stepan Hrulev, with Brian Johnson participating.
John Stewart studied at the University of Glasgow and at York University, where he became Ph.D. in quantum chemistry. After the five year academic career he worked for a long time in OGC (Office of Government Commerce), where he held different positions up to the position of Procurement Policy Director.
John belongs to a small group of people who worked on ITIL and PRINCE2 development from the very beginning. He led a team of well-known experts, including Ivor Macfarlane, Brian Johnson, and others, when they created the books, promoted ITILv1, and worked at market development.
Currently, John works with his Dutch colleagues on IBPI projects (International Best Practice Institute). These projects are aimed at bringing information about different standards, methodologies, and best practices together in one place to make it as simple as possible to understand and select the ones most suitable to your situation.
Since 2004, Brian works for CA Technologies, where he is an ITIL practice leader. The company he worked for previously was Pink Elephant, and before that he worked for the UK Government as OGC board member. Brian led a large project aimed at creating the first service desk in the UK Government.
He worked with John Stewart on the 1st version of ITIL, and after that, he participated in the creation of a number of books of the 2nd and 3rd versions. Brian was one of the founders of ITMF - a community of users, which was renamed to itSMF and in which he is an honorable director.
Brian is also an excellent speaker and he is well known in many countries of the world.
Stepan: Today ITIL is very popular and there is a market that has grown around it. Young people start their careers and become professionals in ITSM, ITIL, and other related areas. But there was no ITIL market or Best Practice market when you were a young specialist. How was it back then? What sources of management information did you and your colleagues use?
John: It's amazing how ITIL has grown; I was always optimistic about its prospects but it has far outstripped my wildest dreams. I think that's because it filled a gaping hole in IT providers' armory.
When we started thinking about it in 1987, there was a lot of interest in IT projects, particularly application development projects. Projects inside and outside the UK government were prone to being late or over budget or in other ways disappointing or unsuccessful, so it was right that the government should do something about its own projects. Responsibility to act fell to the government's IT agency, CCTA; but to a different part of CCTA from mine. CCTA was charged with improving efficiency and effectiveness in the government's IT spend, in other words value-for-money. The responsible CCTA division pioneered the introduction of methods and frameworks into government IT, with the introduction of PROMPT2 (precursor of PRINCE) and SSADM as government methods. From the outset, they had the idea of fostering the creation of an open, competitive supply market of products and services to support organizations' take-up of the methods, which would mean they could be promoted outside government, by suppliers who could make money out of selling their wares related to our methods.
Pete Skinner's team, in which I worked, was responsible for the operational part of the IT lifecycle. We had a feeling that something similar would be a good idea, based on very simple reasoning. The operational part of the lifecycle is or was normally far longer than the development project phase, a lot of money is consumed and the scope for affecting the business (of government, in our case) is huge. Moreover, business dependency on IT was growing, although we may not quite have realized how much it would grow, so the need to get operational IT right would become ever more compelling.
You're right, though: there wasn't much out there in the marketplace. Some of the big companies like IBM and CSC knew about IT service management, of course, but there was little talk of putting a standardized framework into the public domain to provide a kind of lingua franca for the IT industry. Everybody had to invent their own approach or buy in support, which we didn't think was efficient or effective. With the idea of possibly developing such a framework for the UK government, with potential for use outside government too, we commissioned 4 companies to advise us on scope and content based on their experience: CSC, IBM, ICL (later incorporated in Fujitsu), and PA Consulting. We were heavily influenced by IBM, who offered to let us publish and promote their excellent IT service management checklists, and to a lesser extent CSC, who among other things were keen to promote a standardized framework as a basis for managing outsourced IT provision (although that didn't have much bearing on the early development decisions about ITIL).
So summing up, we thought there was a need that the market wasn't providing for. We wanted to develop a framework and create a supporting supply market, so we took advice on its scope and coverage. Now all we had to do was persuade our Board to fund the development.
THIS INTERVIEW IS BROUGHT TO YOU BY ITSM PORTAL, IN CLOSE COOPERATION WITH ROMAN JOURAVLEV, OLEG SKRYNNIK, AND STEPAN HRULEV, OF CLEVERICS.