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The Magic Cure or the Poisonous Alphabet Soup? April 10, 2010

Posted by wrivkin in Enterprise Architecture & Business Transformation, General Creative Thinking.
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This post is the reaction to the article by C. Bernstein in “Baseline” magazine (*) , where the author, in her turn, reviews the study: “IT Governance and Control: Making Sense of Standards, Guidelines and Frameworks,” which was prepared for the Society for Information Management by Sue Conger, an associate professor and director of IT and IT service management at the University of Dallas, and Ulrike Schultze, an associate professor at Southern Methodist University.” “It shows – the author of the paper writes – considerable overlap among the frameworks, even though they emphasize different aspects of IT processes and use different vocabulary and conceptual schemes.” The author and the study are talking about CMMI, COBIT, ISO 20000 and ITIL frameworks.

SIM’s Advanced Practices Council report, which is based on five case studies and uses a cross-referencing tool for mapping the frameworks, shows that IT organizations use process frameworks for different reasons…” says the article. Without any clue for the real purpose of this ‘soup’, add I. Why? Because nobody, including the ‘cooks’ seemingly have this clue.

Why?! Anybody, at least somewhat familiar with those “alphabet soup” frameworks knows that their primary goal is to describe IT processes for non-IT, technologically-illiterate managers. They are trying to describe IT as a ‘black box’, considering what is going on there as some abstract and agnostic ‘processes’. So what, ask you: isn’t you yourself a proponent of abstraction? Yes, say I, but on the specific abstraction level. A framework should be abstract, where it should be abstract, specific, where it should be specific, and its author(s) should have knowledge to differ the former from the latter.

Moreover, there are different levels of abstraction itself: philosophic abstraction – scientific abstraction – framework abstraction – framework layer abstraction. To retain the same level of abstraction throughout the whole framework means really describe or resolve nothing. This is why this CMMICOBITISO20000ITIL framework turned into pure bureaucratic a*s covering, along with their architectural sister FEAFDODAFTOGAFZEAF.
Exact knowledge, corresponding to the level of a framework: this is the recipe, this is the cure.
So, do not try a soup before being knowledgeably convinced that it is good for you.
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*C. Bernstein. (2009) The Alphabet Soup of Process Frameworks , Baseline, Issue 99;
http://www.baselinemag.com/c/a/IT-Management/The-Alphabet-Soup-of-Process-Frameworks-680767

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