Why ITIL is important
In business and technology circles, the IT Infrastructure Library, or ITIL®, is viewed as the most widely accepted approach to IT Service Management (ITSM) in the world.
Owned by the British government’s Office of Government Commerce, ITIL provides a cohesive set of best practices, drawn from both public and private sectors. ITIL is the backbone to structuring IT organizations that optimize service quality, improve service levels and reduce costs—and it’s becoming increasingly important to today’s corporations.
In fact, a recent industry analyst report notes that by
2008, more than half of all enterprises will be looking to standardize ITSM processes based on ITIL. What’s more, industry analysts have observed that many corporations are looking into improving their infrastructure management processes, as demonstrated by the strong interest in ITIL and other process rationalization methods—implying that the ITIL approach is well on its way to becoming the de facto standard for service delivery.
Why update ITIL? Why now?
Just as business and technology are constantly evolving, so too is the approach to ITSM—making this the ideal time for an ITIL refresh.
Certainly the IT industry has matured since ITIL V2 was published in the late 1990s. That version put greater emphasis on what service management is—rather than how you can best approach it. The last version also centered on processes for Service Delivery and Service Support, all of which aligned to activity and output but not necessarily to value.
ITIL V3 represents a significant shift in how IT is viewed in the greater business context. With the realization
that managing IT requires more than just a set of processes comes an increased focus on managing the service lifecycle and providing value to the business— with an emphasis on how technology can best be leveraged to enhance that value.
ITIL V3 brings service management in line with changing business needs and priorities, advancing technology and new governance models. The refreshed version is better aligned to the needs of CIOs and the businesses they serve. It features modifications designed to speed and simplify the implementation, adoption and application of service
management processes to optimize business outcomes.
On a practical note, the new version includes updates that:
• Clarify the business benefits to be derived from ITIL
• Improve its usefulness and applicability
• Make it easier to implement ITIL
• Leverage real-world advancements since V2, including tools, technology and relationship types.
What has changed?
While there are no fundamental departures from the basic principles and processes that have constituted ITIL since the beginning, the differences between ITIL V2 and ITIL V3 are a direct result of maturity in the market and a deeper understanding of ITSM and its role within the business.
However, some significant changes can be found in the refreshed version. Perhaps the first, most obvious change is that ITIL V3 divides the materials into three distinct components:
• Five core books, presenting the basic building blocks of ITSM, based around a service lifecycle approach
• Complementary materials, published to meet specific scenarios or examples, such as ”how to implement IT service management in an outsourced environment” or “how to use Six Sigma to implement IT service management,” with some of these materials being Web-based, so that they can be published more rapidly and keep ITIL V3 up-to-date with new developments
• Value-added products, such as templates and workflow diagrams
This new structure is intended to prolong the life of ITIL V3 while also providing more specific guidance to ITIL users for specific situations.
Other evolutionary changes are designed to smooth integration with existing service management operations, while placing greater emphasis on operational efficiency. For example:
• ITIL V3 offers guidance on how to comply with current legislation and regulations such as Sarbanes-Oxley and Basel II, as well as formal governance models.
• Industry- and topic-specific guidance includes implementation templates for addressing special concerns of specific vertical markets and industries.
• New topics include service management strategies for outsourcing, co-sourcing and shared services models.
• A greatly expanded, state-of-the-art service management knowledge system captures current practice and aids proactive service management.
ITIL V3 positioning
A full customer-specific IT Service Management solution requires more than ITIL
Sharpening the focus on the service lifecycle
The first two ITIL versions grouped content according to process. The idea was that if ITIL defined the
processes, IT managers would define how to organize and implement them to achieve higher quality services and reduce costs.
Over the past five or more years, that view has shifted and matured. It is now clear that ITIL processes cannot just be implemented in isolation. IT is an increasingly strategic part of the organization—and managing IT is not just about implementing the processes and one function. It is about understanding and meeting business needs through the provisioning of IT services at every stage of their lifecycle, encompassing everything from strategy to daily operations.
With this new view of IT and ITSM in mind, ITIL V3 is structured according to the stages of the service lifecycle and the business outcomes they support. The processes from ITIL V2 are still there—but this time ITIL shows exactly how these processes are used to provide services that support the business, as well as how they are implemented and managed.
In ITIL V3, the five principal stages of the service lifecycle are defined as:
• Service Strategy for practical decision-making: This is where the role and requirements of IT are defined to ensure overall business success.
• Service Design with a pragmatic service blueprint: IT will design services that meet the business needs— both through functionality and performance—and also design them to be manageable and cost effective.
• Service Transition to improve management change, mitigate risk and assure quality: Services will be tested and introduced into the infrastructure in a controlled manner. Transition also ensures that IT is able to respond to changes in both the business and IT environments, resulting in a more agile, responsive organization.
• Service Operation for more responsive, stable services: This is where the services are actually delivered and supported. Operation achieves a
designed, and responding to variations in the business and IT environments to achieve stability and flexibility.
• Continual Service Improvement with measurements that work: This involves the ongoing monitoring measurement of the quality and cost of services
ITIL V3: New structure focuses on the service lifecycle