ITSM and ITIL Lexicon

The ITSM and ITIL Lexicon – What If End Users Got to Name Things

Warning: If you were born without a sense of humor, or have had it surgically removed at some point in your life, please click away from this blog now.

Also before you read this blog – based on the musings of my imaginary pet end user, sorry “colleague” – please note that I’m not anti-ITIL, the most popular IT service management (ITSM) best practice framework. And that this isn’t ITIL bashing. It’s instead a hopefully humorous reflection on some of the words we use in ITSM, which I included in a recent blog The A to Z of ITSM, and the idea that ITIL has created a common lexicon for IT. Well, a common lexicon for those who have studied and bought into ITIL perhaps.

This is hopefully a friendly poke into the ribs of ITSM professionals, including myself (who gets very pedantic over the use of the word “problem”), and I’m totally aware that it’s so much harder to create something than it is to break it (or to ridicule it). ITIL has of course made a big difference to IT professionalism, to the quality of IT services, and to the lives of people working in IT across tens of thousands of companies around the world.

So it’s just me looking at ITSM from a customer point of view, heck it might even be outside-in thinking, and my guess as to what an end user would likely think of some of the common words we throw around so liberally in ITSM.

8 Popular ITSM Words and Terms Viewed Through an End-User Lens

ITIL WordEnd-User ResponseEnd-User Alternative
ITILEnd-user responses would most likely range from “I don’t care what it is, or what it’s called, please just make my IT work” to “I searched for #ITIL on Twitter and saw some very interesting images.” None. They are really not concerned, nor should they be. They don’t need to know that ITSM and ITIL exist, they just need to have their needs and expectations consistently met.
End UserSomething akin to “<<Insert expletive>>, is that what you call me when I can’t hear you?” or “Surely I’m a customer or a consumer, or at least ‘one of the people who indirectly pays your wages’.”I’m sure they would prefer most things other than user or end user, which make it sound as though only the technology relationship is important to us. Ideally “customer,” but “consumer” or “colleague” will do if IT people can’t get over the fact that these users don’t directly pay for their IT as individuals.
Service DeskI’m sure most non-IT personnel would simply say “Oh, you’re referring to the IT help desk, why didn’t you say so?” when someone in IT tells them to contact the service desk for help.The IT help desk. It’s what they currently call it.
IncidentPossible responses include “Isn’t an incident a car crash or a security breach” and “I prefer to call your all-too-frequent failures “IT issues” or something less savory.” Although the most likely term an end user would use for their issue is “problem,” as in “I have a problem with <<insert hardware or software name>>.”Issue or problem (if ITSMers can ever let go over two decades of the ITIL-defined “problem”).
ProblemEnd users probably have no idea that the ITIL-defined version of problem exists, so “Isn’t this what you ITSMers should call an incident?” would be a suitable end-user response.Given that an incident would be called a problem or issue, this would be a repetitive problem/issue or a multi-impact problem/issue. Or, when offered with a wink, “the mother of all IT issues” or a “can you not fix this already?”
Change ManagementMost likely end-user response could be “Oh that’s what you call it when you have to do extra work to deliver the things we thought we had asked for in the first place.”Pah! IT?
Business Relationship Management“So you guys aren’t part of our company?” and “What’s all this business alignment nonsense?”Customer management.
Service Level Agreement (SLA)Be prepared for “Who on earth agreed to that? Oh, it was agreed in 1995” or “Oh, you’re using best practice targets for incident resolution, is that best practice for IT or for the customer?” or “Why don’t you ever mention the SLA we agreed in situations where you never manage to adhere to it?I’m not bothering with SLAs; you only seem to bother about the ones you can adhere to.

And looking beyond ITSM, I guess DevOps would be met with an end-user response something like “You need to find a way of working so that different teams in the IT organization can work well together? Has this been going on for the last 30 years?” The end-user alternative? Flabbergasted.

So that’s it. This was intended as a bit of fun and I hope that you at least rolled your eyes a little. What would you throw in as other examples of ITSM terminology viewed through an end-user lens?


Posted by Joe the IT Guy

Joe the IT Guy
Joe the IT Guy

Native New Yorker. Loves everything IT-related (and hugs). Passionate blogger and Twitter addict. Oh...and resident IT Guy at SysAid Technologies (almost forgot the day job!).


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