What is ITIL?
ITIL® (The Information Technology Infrastructure Library) is a set of globally-adopted IT service management best practices, making ITIL the most widely accepted approach to IT service management in the world. ITIL provides best practice guidance on how to manage IT infrastructure to streamline IT services in line with business expectations.
ITIL defines the organisational structure and skill requirements of the IT operation, and documents a set of operational management procedures to assist the management of IT infrastructure to deliver business-focused services. Importantly, the operational procedures are supplier-independent and technology-neutral.
The newest iteration of ITIL – ITIL 4 – was launched in January 2019, with the release of a new edition of the ITIL Foundation manual and the ITIL 4 Foundation certification level.
ITIL 4 vs ITIL v3 (2011)
ITIL 4 builds on previous versions of the framework by introducing a new end-to-end digital operating model, which has been designed to help IT teams create, deliver and operate technical products and services that fit their organisation’s wider business strategy. This model is called the service value system, or SVS.
The SVS is supported by seven guiding principles which have evolved from ITIL v3’s nine guiding principles for practitioners and reflect those found in Agile, DevOps and Lean methodologies.
ITIL 4 uses 34 management practices, which follow a more holistic approach than the 26 ITIL v3 processes and are split into three areas: general management practices, service management practices and technical management practices
The ITIL 4 service value system has five core components:
1. The ITIL service value chain
At the heart of the SVS lies the service value chain, which comprises six activities:
- Design and transition
- Deliver and support
These activities can be combined in many different sequences, which ITIL 4 calls ‘value streams’.
One such value stream is the ITIL v3 service lifecycle:
- Service strategy involves understanding customers and how to develop and successfully execute IT services to meet their needs.
- Service design ensures that the service is designed efficiently and cost-effectively.
- Service transition sees the design built and tested.
- Service operation delivers and manages the service.
- Continual service improvement provides a mechanism for improving the service, and the technology and processes used in its management.
2. The 7 ITIL guiding principles
The SVS is supported by seven guiding principles, which have evolved from ITIL v3’s nine guiding principles for practitioners and reflect those found in Agile, DevOps and Lean methodologies:
- Focus on value
- Start where you are
- Progress iteratively with feedback
- Collaborate and promote visibility
- Think and work holistically
- Keep it simple and practical
- Optimize and automate
They aim to support decisions and actions, and ensure stakeholders’ needs are met efficiently.
3. The 34 ITIL practices
ITIL 4 uses 34 management practices, which follow a more holistic approach than the 26 ITIL v3 processes and are split into three areas: general management practices, service management practices and technical management practices.
General management practices
- Architecture management
- Continual improvement
- Information security management
- Knowledge management
- Measurement and reporting
- Organizational change management
- Portfolio management
- Project management
- Relationship management
- Risk management
- Service financial management
- Strategy management
- Supplier management
- Workforce and talent management
Technical management practices
- Deployment management
- Infrastructure and platform management
- Software development and management
Service management practices
- Availability management
- Business analysis
- Capacity and performance management
- Change control
- Incident management
- IT asset management
- Monitoring and event management
- Problem management
- Release management
- Service catalogue management
- Service configuration management
- Service continuity management
- Service design
- Service desk
- Service level management
- Service request management
- Service validation and testing
The SVS incorporates the concept of governance so that organisations can maintain a holistic approach to service value chains, encouraging organisational agility and ensuring management activities are aligned with corporate objectives.
5. Continual improvement
Like ITIL v3’s continual service improvement model, the ITIL 4 continual improvement model can be applied to all improvement initiatives, enabling momentum to be maintained. Its six steps are:
- Business vision, mission, goals and objectives
- Perform baseline assessments
- Define measurable tags
- Define the improvement plan
- Execute improvement actions
- Evaluate metrics and KPIs
ITIL 4 also incorporates four dimensions, similar to ITIL v3’s four Ps (people, products, partners and processes):
- Organisation and people
- Information and technology
- Partners and suppliers
- Value streams and processes
ITIL 4 certification scheme
There are changes to ITIL’s professional certification scheme, too. Whereas previous versions of ITIL had five certification levels (Foundation, Practitioner, Intermediate (Service Lifecycle and Service Capability), Expert and Master), ITIL 4 has four:
- MP (Managing Professional)
- SL (Strategic Leader)
Book your place on the new ITIL 4 Foundation training course today
ITIL, ITSM and ISO 20000
Although they have much in common, ITIL and ISO/IEC 20000 serve different purposes.
ISO 20000 is the standard for service management processes. Organisations can attain independently audited certification to the Standard to demonstrate that they are following ITSM best practice.
ITIL provides advice on ITSM best practice. It includes options that may be adopted and adapted by organisations according to business needs, local circumstances and the maturity of the service provider.
Find out more about ISO 20000
ITIL is acknowledged as best practice for ITSM in organisations of all sizes and types.
It has been adopted by thousands of organisations, including Shell, Hewlett Packard, IBM, NASA, British Airways, Disney, Microsoft, the NHS and the MoD.
The main benefits of adopting ITIL are:
Alignment of IT with business needs
Consistent, repeatable processes
Efficient service delivery
Improved services and processes
Transparent costs and improved ROI