ITIL® v3 is a collection of five books that’s now in its third generation (most recently released in 2007). It’s quite literally a library of the best practices for managing IT organizations and the services these organizations produce and deliver. ITIL’s ultimate goal is to describe how to manage IT as a business, guiding all IT activities from strategy to operations.
Four primary goals make up the purpose of this comprehensive guide:
- Align IT activities and projects to business requirements
- Control IT costs
- Improve IT service quality
- Balance resource allocations
Sure, these goals are ambitious, but ITIL has the experience to deliver. British Central Computer and Telecommunication Agency (CCTA), now called the Cabinet Office, made a decision in the late 1980’s to improve its IT management systems which lead to the start of ITIL. The CCTA commissioned a study group to develop a new approach to managing IT. From this group came the ITIL version 1. While similar in objective, it was very different from the current ITIL v3. ITIL became so powerful since it’s based on best practice, and it’s under continuous development from a worldwide community. ITIL adapts as IT matures, allowing ITIL to consistently remain relevant and useful.
The primary global organization driving the content of the ITIL is the IT Service Management Forum, itSMF, an IT industry association dedicated to supervising the cost and quality of IT service management. Members consist of all types of IT organizations including government, military, profit, services, and non-profit.
The diverse membership of the itSMF makes up over 500 local chapters covering the globe. The itSMF is involved in two main areas. First, the organization provides a forum to address technical and business issues that will enhance IT management applications and services. Second, it educates the market about IT service management and its value in marketing IT service management. ITIL adoption began where it got its start, in the British government, then quickly spread to nongovernment organizations. From Britain, ITIL moved to Europe and Canada where it saw heavy adoption. From Canada, the adoption of ITIL, by both government and non-government organizations within the United States, quickly gained momentum.
Why is ITIL Different?
Over the years, many of you have probably been involved in projects and/or exposed to theories related to IT improvement such as:
- Project Management
- Balanced Scorecards
- Six Sigma
- TQM / Deming
- Capability Maturity Model
Each program provides a methodology that can be used to improve your processes, but these methodologies don’t provide the guidance regarding which processes are required for IT to function well. ITIL provides a framework of processes required to run IT as a business for the enterprise and the relationship between those.
ITIL v3 offers much more than the process-centric model presented in ITIL v2. ITIL v3 presents a lifecycle approach to provide the most value possible to the business. By focusing on the services IT provides to the business, the IT organization can learn how to best apply the quality, project, process, governance, security models, and frameworks.
IT organizations worldwide use ITIL to also establish and improve capabilities in service management. ITIL has the following components:
- The five volumes that make up the ITIL core consist of good practice guidance appropriate for all types of organizations that provide services to a business
- The ITIL complementary guide is a related set of publications with guidance specific to industry sectors, organization types, operating models, and technology architectures
The ITIL volumes define a lifecycle of service management activities. Each stage of the lifecycle incorporates the processes and functions of the other phases. The Service Portfolio represents all of the resources and capabilities (and services) of the service provider, while the Service Catalog is a listing of the services available to IT and the business. Creating values for the business, the ITIL volumes each relate back to the Service Catalog and Service Portfolio.
The following list identifies the ITIL v3 publications with brief descriptions. You do not have to choose between your current improvement methodology and ITIL; it is possible to incorporate ITIL into your business while still using any of the other process improvement methodologies.
ITIL v3 Volume Description:
- Service Strategy: transforming IT service management into a strategic business asset
- Service Design: designing IT services, processes, and functions to understand the strategy
- Service Transition: moving new and changed IT services and components into a production environment safely and effectively
- Service Operations: efficiently and effectively deliver and support IT services
- Continual Service Improvement: monitor and measure IT service management and make adjustments to align with the business and strategy