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Capita – Best Practice Visionaries Or Just Out On A Spending Spree?

By | May 9, 2013 in ITIL

Capita quiet over ITIL

The last few weeks have been pretty big for the ITSM industry.

First we had the Service Desk and IT Support Show (SITS 13 Europe) where the great and the good of ITSM and ITIL gathered.

But more importantly, we had the announcement of the results of the tendering process for the best practices portfolio announced by the Cabinet Office in the UK at the end of last year.


These include amongst them ITIL and PRINCE2.

The "winner" is Capita – a service company providing business process management and service solutions, with staff based in UK, Europe, South Africa and India.

But I say "winner" because already, the industry is trying to determine the future of the brands.

The Announcement

Released in the UK national press in terms as dry as toast, the focus seemed to be on how much this would benefit UK taxpayers, without actually telling a non-IT (or indeed ITIL) comprehending reader what it meant.

Somewhat bafflingly, ITIL and PRINCE2 were described as "hidden gems".

It would seem that what appears to be the bread and butter best practice guidance across the breadth of IT, have been the IT equivalent of Indiana Jones, scavenging for priceless artefacts.

The material in this portfolio is deployed worldwide so describing the joint venture as a direct boost to the UK economy is chronically narrow-minded to say the least.

The majority of projects I have worked on as an ITSM Solution Architect have had a reach far wider than the British coastline.

The Reality

Because we work in the area of IT Service Management, it is easy to fixate on ITIL (and yes maybe even PRINCE2) as the centre of the (collapsing) universe, but it is important to realise that the portfolio has a much wider brief.

So apart from the surprise at the choice of partner, what will actually change for the ITSM community?

The Potential Evil

Well, perhaps it is a little sardonic to describe it as evil, but ITIL, and its role in ITSM, has been carved out by the contributions of experienced individuals spread across all kinds of industries, with a depth of experience.

And when it was owned by the UK Government Cabinet Office, it offered contributors a sense of competitive detachment.

What concerns me about the statement by Capita Chief Executive, Paul Pindar, is that Capita themselves expect to bring commercial, technical and innovation skills.

Capita are not immune to perhaps less-than-successful engagements and deployments, and I wrote a piece, not even 12 months ago, highlighting some of the disadvantages to trying to innovate within an outsourcing arena.

Silence Is Golden?

Whilst analysts have taken to the airwaves speculating here, and deliberating there – a couple of us observers noticed that things have been most quiet on the Capita front, with just three press releases of note:

  • 22nd April – Capita announce that they have acquired G2G3 – Simulation Training Company specialising, amongst other things, in ITIL Simulations.
  • 25th April – Capita confirmed as joint venture partners with the Cabinet Office
  • 3rd May – Capita acquire Blue Sky Performance Improvement –UK-based leaning and development business

(Both acquisitions for an undisclosed sum).

With the exception of the sound bites for the joint venture press release, there has been nothing else coming from Capita since the joint venture announcement.

Future Development

Of course it is too early to speculate, but I find it very hard to believe that one commercial organisation would ever hope to own and drive the on-going development of the portfolio totally in house.

But will those established contributors be quite as willing to devote their time to develop content for, effectively, a competitive commercial organisation?

Maybe those that will benefit are the more experienced free agents, unencumbered by salaried obligations.

But conversely – will this lead to a "gun for hire" mentality?

Where will the review checks and balances come from?

The portfolio can only remain viable if there remains a level of independence, as opposed to a danger of freezing out all other potential service providers.

Final Thoughts

Perhaps it's a little unfair of the ITSM community to be up in arms, waving their pitchforks quite so early.

After all, the new joint venture does not even have a name yet.

But those of us who have worked in the industry for any length of time are experienced (or maybe cynical) enough to know that the former methodologies were never a magic bullet in the first place.

It will need more than a commercial viewpoint to elevate these acquisitions into the realms of a Pandora's box for the IT industry, whether domestically or globally.

And for those who have enjoyed voicing their criticism on validity of ITIL, this may offer them a chance to step up and help play a part in shaping its future.

However, this is all just continued speculation until we know more about the plans and get a better understanding of the best practices that affect IT Service Management.

I am assuming that the new joint venture will still want to gain from the wealth of varied contributory experience….after all, the almost enigmatic silence will have to be broken sometime, no?


Please share your thoughts in the comments or on Twitter, Google+, or Facebook where we are always listening.

Ros Satar

About Ros Satar

Ros Satar started out her life in ITSM tackling Configuration Management head on in 2005. Ros worked as an ITSM Solution Architect and Process Consultant before deciding to combine a career in IT with journalism, now working as a freelance ITSM Analyst and Consultant.
 

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