ITIL is the most widely accepted approach to IT service management in the
world. ITIL provides a cohesive set of best practice, drawn from the public and
private sectors internationally. ITIL is aimed at implementing, maintaining and
improving high quality, cost-effective IT services.
ITIL was first published in the late 1980s and is now on its forth
iteration. The first version of ITIL was
based around disciplines, the second around processes and the third around the
service lifecycle. The current version
"ITIL 2011” documents best management practice again based on the service
ITIL originated from the UK government agency Central Computer &
Telecommunications Agency and was later moved to the Office of Government
Commerce and laterally the Cabinet Office.
ITIL is part a set of best management practice frameworks known as the
SWIRL products which comprise; PRINCE 2 (for Project Management), MOR
(Management of Risk), MSP (Managing Successful Programmes), MOP (Management of
Portfolio), MOV (Increasing the Value of programme and project objectives), PSO
(support structure through Portfolio, Programmes and Project offices), P3M3
(the maturity model for Portfolio, Project and Programme management) as well as
A joint venture company has now been created by
the Cabinet Office on behalf of Her Majesty's Government (HMG) in the United
Kingdom and Capita plc to run the Best Management Practice portfolio, including
ITIL®. This company "Axelos” has a goal: to nurture best practice communities,
both in the UK and on a truly worldwide scale, establishing an innovative and
high quality, continuous learning and development destination that is
co-designed by and co-created for those who use it.
The service lifecycle approach advocated by
ITIL encompasses 4 lifecycle stages and a 5th stage (Continual
Service Improvement) which is looking for opportunities to improve service
quality and reduce costs throughout the lifecycle. Each stage is documented in its own book
known as the core set of ITIL.
stages are as follows:
- Service Strategy – the "hub
of the wheel” as shown in the diagram above. Value creation begins here with understanding
organizational objectives and customer needs. It provides guidance on how to
use service management as a strategic tool to satisfy business needs and asks
why something should be done before asking how.
Service strategy defines a strategy whereby a service provider will
deliver services to meet a customer’s requirements and a strategy for how to
manage those services.
- Service Design - turns service strategy
into the blueprint for delivering the business objectives. It provides guidance for the design of
services (new or changed) and service management processes. Service design Facilitate the introduction of
services into supported environments ensuring quality service delivery,
customer satisfaction and cost-effective service provision mainly through the
production of the "service design package” which shows the blueprint for the
design of a new or changed service and is handed over to service transition for
testing and implementation.
- Service Transition - provides guidance for the development and
improvement of capabilities for introducing new and changed services into live
service operation. It provides guidance
on managing service transitions according to agreed design specifications to
meet business need with minimal risk and maximum optimization.
Service Operation – is where strategic objectives are ultimately
realized and embodies practices in the management of the day-to-day operation
of services. It provides guidance on
achieving effective and efficient delivery and support of services to ensure
value for the customer, user and the service provider. Service operation will also ensure business
satisfaction and confidence in IT through effective and efficient delivery and
support of agreed IT services.
- Continual service improvement - provides guidance on service improvement throughout
the lifecycle through better strategy, design, transition and operation of
services. It combines principles, practices and methods from quality
management, change management and capability improvement.
ITIL provides a systematic and
professional approach to the management of IT services. Adopting its guidance
offers users a huge range of benefits, including:
Increase in and measurable value creation
- Improved customer satisfaction through a more professional approach
to service delivery
- Alignment and integration with business needs
- Reduced costsImproved IT services through the use of proven best-practice
- Improved productivity
- High-quality IT services that benefit the business customer and
enable them to achieve their required outcomes
- Well-designed services which meet customers' needs - now and in the
- Ability to adopt and adapt to reflect business needs and maturity.
The last bullet is an
interesting point and a core tenet of ITIL. ITIL is not designed to be prescriptive but designed to be adopted
strategically, adapted tactically and improved operationally. Being a framework, rather than a cook book
that requires exact ingredients, ITIL provides an outline and models
that specify the goals, general activities, inputs and outputs of the stages
and the processes within each stage that can be incorporated and generally used
in varying degrees of maturity in most organisations.
ITIL provides a common language that is an essential ingredient in the
successful implementation of any improvement programme.
Why is ITIL so successful?
embraces a practical approach to service management - do what works. And what
works is adapting a common framework of practices that unite all areas of IT
service provision towards a single aim - that of delivering value to the
business. The following list defines the key characteristics of ITIL that
contribute to its global success:
- Vendor-neutral - ITIL service management
practices are applicable in any IT organization because they are not based
on any particular technology platform or industry type. ITIL is not tied
to any commercial proprietary practice or solution.
- Non-prescriptive - ITIL offers robust, mature and
time-tested practices that have applicability to all types of service
organization. It continues to be useful and relevant in public and private
sectors, internal and external service providers, small, medium and large
enterprises, and within any technical environment. Organizations should
adopt ITIL and adapt it to meet the needs of the IT organization and their
ITIL represents the learning experiences and thought leadership of the
world's best-in-class service providers.
ROI - ITIL
is successful because it describes practices that enable organizations to
deliver - benefits, return on investment and sustained success.