The IT Infrastructure Library® for IT Service Management (ITSM)

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

Free PDF download: ITIL® v3 to ITIL® 4 – What has changed and how to transition

In February 2019, ITIL® 4 was released, the long-awaited update to ITIL v3.

Many terms have changed, but both versions have the same goal: improving IT services to better meet business requirements and customer expectations.

Download this brochure to discover:

  • What’s new in ITIL 4;
  • How it differs from ITIL v3; and
  • The ITIL 4 certification scheme and how to transition.

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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:

  1. Plan
  2. Improve
  3. Engage
  4. Design and transition
  5. Obtain/build
  6. 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:

  1. Focus on value
  2. Start where you are
  3. Progress iteratively with feedback
  4. Collaborate and promote visibility
  5. Think and work holistically
  6. Keep it simple and practical
  7. 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

4. Governance

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:

  1. Business vision, mission, goals and objectives
  2. Perform baseline assessments
  3. Define measurable tags
  4. Define the improvement plan
  5. Execute improvement actions
  6. Evaluate metrics and KPIs

Four dimensions

ITIL 4 also incorporates four dimensions, similar to ITIL v3’s four Ps (people, products, partners and processes):

  1. Organisation and people
  2. Information and technology
  3. Partners and suppliers
  4. 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:

  • Foundation
  • MP (Managing Professional)
  • SL (Strategic Leader)
  • Master

Book your place on the new ITIL 4 Foundation training course today

Free paper: Adopting ITIL® 4 – A practical overview for beginners

ITIL, now at version 4, is the most widely adopted ITSM (IT service management) framework in the world. This free paper provides a practical introduction for those new to ITIL.

Download now

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 benefits

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

Realistic service levels

Consistent, repeatable processes

Efficient service delivery

Improved services and processes

Transparent costs and improved ROI

Discover our range of ITIL solutions to support your ITSM project