What is ITIL

ITIL is a set of IT Service Management practices that focuses on aligning IT services with the needs of business.

Every organization delivers a service or product. For every service or product, the ITIL framework helps manage delivery, industrialization, support, and consumerization from inception to retirement. The five stages of the ITIL framework include:

  • Service Strategy
  • Service Design
  • Service Transition
  • Service Operation
  • Continual Service Improvement

Each stage in this service life cycle supports all the other stages.

ITIL does not tell any particular organization all the capabilities that it needs. But for any IT organization making roadmap decisions it gives practical guidance on strategy and services.

ITIL also complements other industry best practices. For example, if an organization also needs guidance for project management, then that organization can augment the ITIL framework foundation with a project management best practice.

Organizational benefits of adopting ITIL best practices include:

  • Stronger alignment between IT and the business
  • Improved service delivery and customer satisfaction
  • Reduced costs through improved use of resources
  • Greater visibility of IT costs and assets
  • Better management of business risk and service disruption or failure
  • More stable service environment to support constant business change

More detailed benefits and advantages of the ITIL framework are documented in each of the stages and in the 26 ITIL process areas defined in the core books. Essentially, the benefit lies in aligning process area with desired business outcome. The goal is to improve the specialized capability of the process, people, suppliers and technology which supports the business service.

IT service management (ITSM) refers to the entirety of activities – directed by policies, organized and structured in processes and supporting procedures – that are performed by an organization to plan, design, deliver, operate and control information technology (IT) services offered to customers.[1] It is thus concerned with the implementation of IT services that meet customers’ needs, and it is performed by the IT service provider through an appropriate mix of people, process and information technology.[2]

Differing from more technology-oriented IT management approaches like network management and IT systems management, IT service management is characterized by adopting a process approach towards management, focusing on customer needs and IT services for customers rather than IT systems, and stressing continual improvement.

ITSM methodology encompasses the following areas (the basic areas of ITIL):

IT Service Support

  • Configuration Management – physical and logical perspective of the IT infrastructure and the IT services being provided

  • Change Management – standard methods and procedures for effective managing of all changes

  • Release Management – testing, verification, and release of changes to the IT environment

  • Incident Management – the day-to-day process that restores normal acceptable service with a minimal impact on business

  • Problem Management – the diagnosis of the root causes of incidents in an effort to proactively eliminate and manage them

  • Service Desk (Function) – a function not a process, this provides a central point of contact between users and IT

IT Service Delivery

  • Availability Management – optimize IT infrastructure capabilities, services, and support to minimize service outages and provide sustained levels of service to meet business requirements

  • IT Service Continuity – managing an organization’s capability to provide the necessary level of service following an interruption of service

  • Capacity Management – enables an organization to tactically manage resources and strategically plan for future resource requirements

  • Service Level Management – maintain and improve the level of service to the organization

  • Financial Management for IT Services – managing the costs associated with providing the organization with the resources needed to meet requirements

Depending on the ITSM consulting methodology that is employed, additional value-added areas can be included. These areas could be separate but dependent on those listed above, such as Print and Output Management, or they could be sub-processes of those listed above, such as IT Strategy Development.

ITSM General Implementation

A typical high level overview of an ITSM implementation structure encompasses the following:

  1. Determine the current, existing IT infrastructure, processes, and services

  2. Develop some desired future state of IT and the services that it needs to provide

  3. Architect a “roadmap” that depicts how to get to the desired state from the current state

  4. Determine the steps needed to execute the “roadmap”

The ITSM implementation framework for each of the IT Service Delivery and Service Support areas listed above is a 5 phase model:

  • Assessment – determine the current state and begin to collect and understand the metrics for the future desired state

  • Architect and Design – develop a mature design for the future desired state

  • Planning – develop those plans necessary to achieve the future desired state in a phased evolutionary fashion

  • Implementation – implement and deploy the plans within IT and across the enterprise to achieve the future desired state

  • Support – manage, maintain, and improve the future desired state being able to adaptively integrate enhancements as needed or required

Within this framework, effectively managing IT as an enterprise wide, service oriented entity typically comprises one or more of the following separate and distinct perspectives:

  • People – quantity and quality of expertise and knowledge

  • Process – IT and organization specific practices, procedures, guidelines, etc. and the level of complexity and sophistication of them

  • Technology – total logical and physical technology infrastructure consisting of hardware, software, communication networks, applications, DBMS, etc.

  • Organization – internal and external business factors that affect IT, how IT and the organization interface, what is the organizations “corporate culture”, what are the organization’s direction and how does that affect IT

  • Integration – how is IT integrated within the business model, what services does IT provide, how are the services provided, and how are best practices employed within IT