USM and ITIL, SIAM, DevOps, etc.

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The universality (the "U") of USM supports numerous practices and techniques, such as SIAM, DevOps, and agile. All those practices and techniques ultimately serve one and the same objective: better service delivery. USM provides the universal management system for that objective.


  • ITIL v1 - In its first edition, from the end of the 1980s to the turn of the century, the text of ITIL was based on around 50 booklets in which as many best practices for IT (service) management were recorded. ITIL was mainly focused on supporting the technological challenges that the world was facing at the time: optimally running ever more complex software on ever larger computer machine parks in ever larger networks. It was the start of the era of the internet.
  • ITIL v2 - In 2000-2001, ITIL was rewritten into two major books: ITIL Service Support and ITIL Service Delivery, to which a few smaller works were added later. The two core books described 12 practices and functions; the other books described a large number of additional activities. ITIL 2 made clear that services became increasingly central to the deployment of information processing products. It was no longer about technology, but about supporting the business with technology. Although ITIL used the word processes, the ITIL books were written in the format of best practices.
  • ITIL v3 - In 2007 the third version of ITIL was released: ITIL v3, this time recorded in five books: Service Strategy, Service Design, Service Transition, Service Operation and Continual Service Improvement. Together these books described 28 practices (again called 'processes'), functions and activities. This version was based on an approach that focused on the life cycle of an IT service, in an environment that focused on continual improvement. In 2011 a slight revision of ITIL v3 was released. With ITIL v3, the focus shifted definitively to services, but now with a heavy emphasis on the development of new functionality for the business. The focus on rapid development of new functionalities for the business continued strongly in the IT industry during the following years. Agile and DevOps entered the field, cloud technology with associated strategies were widely introduced, and the integration of IT and other disciplines became mainstream with the Internet of Things. ITIL was inevitably in need of an update to support these developments.
  • ITIL 4 - That update was launched in February 2019. Although ITIL 4 makes the comment that the processes from the earlier editions were practices rather than actual processes, the latest version of ITIL is still based on a practice-driven approach. This time, 34 practices are described with which a service organization can organize its value streams. ITIL 4 added the ideas of service value system and service value chain, its practice-driven nature and the lack of a systematic approach to the concept of a management system still led to the same result: a rather incoherent and very redundant set of best practices that cannot easily be applied as a whole.

The result of applying ITIL is a combination of high cost (because of the commercialized pricing model and the internal inconsistency) and limited results (because of the internal lack of a system approach and the resulting redundancy). This can be repaired by adding that missing piece to the organization's strategy: the management system that enables the unlocking of the value of best practice guidance. This explains how USM and ITIL can be combined to a sustainable strategy. Using the metaphor of the organization as a building, USM's enterprise service management system provides the fundament of your building, while the best practice guidance of ITIL versions can be applied to the floors of your building. Read the e-book "How to make a success of ITIL 4 with USM" (also available in Dutch and in Finnish). Or read the e-book "How to make a success of ITIL v3 with USM" (in Dutch)

USM can support all ITIL v3 best practices with one integrated service management system

USM can support all ITIL 4 best practices with one integrated service management system


What applies to ITIL (above), also applies to COBIT. Although COBIT is much closer to an architectural approach, it remains a framework of best practices. This means that - in the metaphor of the building - the COBIT guidance can also be supported by USM's service management system, for a sustainable combination of one fundament and many floors.

USM can support all COBIT's best practices with one integrated service management system


FitSM is a bast practice framework that presents a subset of the ITIL practices, claiming to deliver a light-weight standard for IT service management. With the adoption of ITIL practices and the associated way of thinking, FitSM inherits the benefits but also the flaws of ITIL's best practice approach. On top of that, FitSM created some additional inconsistencies that limit the economic effectiveness of the framework in practice. FitSM seems to state that the other ITIL practices are not qualified as equally important as this subset, emphasizing the practice-driven approach that is the opposite of Systems Thinking. As with the other frameworks, USM can support the presented practices with one integrated service management system.

The FitSM practices can all be supported by USM's integrated service management system


The SIAM (Service Integration And Management) framework describes a practice for managing a complex outsourcing network. The service integrator and all the suppliers in that network act as actors who all have the same objective: to form well-oiled supply chains in a complex network. A strong chain consists of strong links. USM provides the powerful, universal link for those chains and networks.

USM as the universal link in a complex SIAM network


The same is true for an organization with a DevOps practice. Each DevOps squad has become a service provider, now acting as an actor in a chain or network. This again means that a powerful chain requires apowerful link: the USM switching technique provides the solution for interoperability between all actors, for a powerful, effective and efficient network. In this way, the DevOps practice can contribute to the organization's objective: the organization's best conceivable service delivery. Read the e-book "How to make a success of DevOps with USM".

USM as the universal link in a complex DevOps network

Agile and scrum

The DevOps practice is based on the technique of agile working with scrum techniques that focus on a limited part of service delivery: modifications. Thus, agile and scrum are about small-scale and incremental improvements that contribute in the short term to improved service delivery that meets rapidly changing customer needs. Each improvement is a reactive or proactive service delivery improvement, and fits seamlessly into the USM management system.

USM thus provides structural and indispensable support for agile practice and scrum techniques that is prerequisite for embedding in the organization's goal of optimal service delivery. The agile principles and the Agile Manifesto can be fully followed in a USM deployment. Moreover, if an organization has established its routines and governance methodically according to USM, significantly better and more sustainable deliverables can be achieved with these agile practices and scrum techniques. The deployment of USM is also based on a agile approach, with improvement sprints.

Agile practices focus on short-cycle modifications that can be supported in the USM management system.

The Viable System Model (VSM)

The viable system model (VSM) is a model that supports organizations to get in control of their performance, in a changing environment. The VSM describes the structure of an autonomous system that is capable of adjusting itself (and its performance) to changing requirements. A viable system can survive in a context that is continuously changing.

The VSM is based on regulation theory (cybernetics), so that it supports control. It is not meant to stimulate creativity. If you are looking for a mechanism that helps you deliver services in a dependency relationship where continuity is core, then the VSM is a very useful model. The model, however, is rather theoretic, and for many it is hard to get a grip on its meaning and on the way it works. If you do understand the VSM but you are still stuck with the question "but how?", you will find an ideal partner for VSM in USM.

USM's setup is highly analogous with the VSM: it provides a control mechanism, but now based on a management architecture, specifying a management system. This means USM focuses at the lower regions of the VSM. USM is set up in very simple structures with very practical components, making it easy to support the approach of the VSM in practice.

Check this video if you want to see how USM supports the VSM and how USM also works with Ashby's Law of Requisite Variety.

A simplified image of the Viable System Model (VSM)

ASL and BiSL

In the Netherlands, two frameworks have been popular for supporting application service management (ASL) and business information service management (BiSL, also labeled as BiSL-Next or DiD: digital information design). Both are based on the same practice-driven approach as the other best practice frameworks. Their dependency upon practices and the lack of a Systems Thinking approach causes the same issues as with the other frameworks: internally inconsistent, highly redundant, expensive, and not sustainable. The practices of ASL and BiSL can also be reproduced with USM's service management system.

All ASL practices can be supported with the USM service management system

All BiSL practices can be supported with the USM service management system