What is ITIL?

ITIL is a globally-recognised framework that can be adopted in your organisation to ensure IT service management best practices are followed. Individuals can achieve ITIL Foundation, Intermediate, Expert and Master qualifications.

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.

The key differences between ITIL v3 and ITIL 4

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 (SVS)

The ITIL® SVS represents how the various components and activities of the organisation work together to facilitate value creation through IT–enabled services.

To ensure holistic approach to service management, ITIL® 4 outlines four dimensions of service management, from which each component of the SVS should be considered. The four dimensions are:

  1. Organisations and people – This includes the corporate culture and the right level of staff capacity and competency.
  2. Information and technology – This refers to the information and technology needed to deliver and manage services.
  3. Partners and suppliers – This refers to relationships with partners and suppliers involved in the design, deployment, delivery, support and continual improvement of services.
  4. Value streams and processes – This dimension look at how all the parts of the organisation work together seamlessly to help create value.

By giving each of the four dimensions an appropriate amount of focus, an organisation ensures its SVS remains balanced and effective.

The SVS has five core components:

  1. The ITIL® service value chain
  2. The 34 ITIL® practices
  3. The 7 ITIL® guiding principles
  4. Governance
  5. Continuous improvement

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 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

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

Technical management practices

  • Deployment management
  • Infrastructure and platform management
  • Software development and management

3. The 7 ITIL guiding principles

The ITIL SVS describes how all the components and activities of the organisation work together as a system to enable value creation:

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

4. Governance

Organisational governance is a system by which an organisation is directed and controlled. Governance is realised through the following activities:

  1. Evaluate - The evaluation of the organisation, its strategy, portfolios, and relationships with other parties. The governing body evaluates the organisation on a regular basis as stakeholders' needs and external circumstances evolve.
  2. Direct - The governing body assigns responsibility for, and directs the preparation and implementation of, organisational strategy and policies. Strategies set the direction and prioritisation for organisational activity, future investment, etc. Policies establish the requirements for behaviour across the organisation and, where relevant, suppliers, partners, and other stakeholders.
  3. Monitor - The governing body monitors the performance of the organisation and its practices, products, and services. The purpose of this is to ensure that performance is in accordance with policies and direction.

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

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

ITIL 4 Foundation was launched in February 2019. MP, SL and Master will be released later in 2019.

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 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

Alignment of IT solutions with business needs

Realistic service levels

service levels

Consistent, repeatable processes

Consistent, repeatable

Efficient service delivery

Efficient service

Improved services

Improved services
and processes

Transparent costs and improved ROI

Transparent costs and
improved ROI

ITIL books

IT Governance Publishing publishes and distributes the world’s best selection of ITIL and ITSM books, and is an official distributor for TSO, the official publisher of ITIL books.

Our ITIL library includes all the official titles, course books and study guides, as well as the latest practical advice from experienced ITSM practitioners, including the new ITIL Foundation ITIL 4 Edition.

Discover our range of bestselling ITIL books >>

ITIL Training

The ITIL certification scheme allows service management professionals to gain recognition of their level of ITIL and service management competency.

IT Governance has a range of ITIL training courses and study guides to support your ITIL certification studies.

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

ITIL consultancy

At IT Governance, we recognise the importance of delivering IT services that are business-led, rather than shaped by IT. Our expert consultants can transfer the knowledge that you need to achieve your ITSM, ITIL and ISO 20000 goals.

Whether you are looking to adopt certain aspects of ITIL or gain ISO 20000 certification as proof of your organisation’s level of commitment, our team can tailor a package of consultancy, training and project resources to meet all your requirements.

Click here to find out more about our ITIL, ITSM and ISO 20000 consultancy service >>

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