ITIL Overview | HelpSystems

ITIL

Learn best practices for IT service management to keep IT and the business aligned

What is ITIL?

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ITIL offers a framework of structured, scalable best practices and processes that organizations can adopt and adapt to fit their own operations. Organizations implement ITIL best practices to improve service. Cost benefits are an added benefit due to streamlined processes. When fully implemented, the processes ensure consistent, high quality service that meets business needs.

Implementing ITIL is not a quick fix nor will it be easy. It takes a lot of thought, commitment and hard work to successfully change the way the IT organization does business. There will be things that you do today that you will not do afterwards and vice-versa. Most people will continue to do what they do today but using more repeatable processes and in doing so they will improve service delivery, becoming more productive.

The History of ITIL

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Developed in the early 1990s by the British government, the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) has gone through two subsequent revisions, each revision having a different perspective on IT service management. The initial offering spanned 42 volumes covering a wide range of IT best practices, from customer engagement to under floor cabling.

By the mid-1990s, ITIL had become the world-wide de facto standard for IT best practices. Early adopters enjoyed their benefits but soon realized there needed to be some rigor around them in order to provide better-managed IT services.

Generally your IT organization’s culture and maturity will dictate the version that provides the greatest benefits. More mature organizations with existing strong business-unit involvement can derive more benefits with Version 3, while the technology best practices can help less mature organizations. There is no work lost if you start with Version 2 as all the processes and best practices are easily transferrable to Version 3.

The first revision of ITIL, known as Version 2, took a technology-oriented perspective to coordinate and integrate the best practices. Organizations with less mature IT management processes might want to start with this version of ITIL.

The current revision, Version 3, takes a service management lifecycle approach, managing the development and delivery of IT services from a business perspective. Version 3 is more likely to appeal to organizations that manage IT from a business-value point of view.

Benefits of ITIL Implementation

Organizations implement ITIL best practices to improve service; however, they also enjoy the cost benefits from improved productivity as a result of streamlining work processes. When fully implemented, the processes ensure consistent, high quality service that meets business units' needs. Services become more focused on the business than technology.

Other benefits to embracing ITIL best practices include:

Better managed IT costs

  • People are more productive because only authorized work is performed.
  • Service quality improvements result in fewer services anomalies, eliminating staff distractions and permitting more work directly benefiting business to be performed.
  • Trade-offs between costs and levels of IT service are better understood, permitting more informed business decisions, fostering a much closer partnership between business and IT.
  • Built-in continuous improvement processes ensure that business applications operate efficiently. Through the use of the processes, performance improvement opportunities are identified and ITIL processes guide how corrective work is commissioned and implemented.

ITIL Versions

Implementing an ITIL practice is all about IT service optimization. So far, two versions exist: ITIL Version 2 and ITIL Version 3. Both versions are beneficial, and which one you implement will depend on your business’s IT maturity. 

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ITIL Version 2

Version 2 focuses on the categories and areas that make up a service optimization practice.

ITIL Business Relationship Management

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ITIL business relationship management is a group of people that serve as liaisons between the business and IT. This is where business requirements are gathered and translated into IT resource requirements.

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ITIL Version 2 Diagram | HelpSystems

Components of ITIL Version 2 Service Delivery

ITIL Capacity Management

Capacity management is important to ensure that IT infrastructure resources are in place to satisfy planned business needs. It also makes sure those infrastructure assets are effectively used.

IT Continuity Management 

IT service continuity management (ITSCM)—also known as DCP, DRP, DCT, or simply DR—takes disaster recovery planning to the next level.

ITIL Availability Management 

Availability management ensures that your application systems are up and available for use. This is especially critical when it comes to meeting the conditions of your service level agreements (SLAs).

IT Financial Management 

Where service level management defines and manages the services, financial management determines the costs of those services and provides financial accounting support. In short, they ensure expenditures fall within approved plans and that funds are spent well.

ITIL Service Level Management

Service Level Management processes define IT and business roles and responsibilities. This is important for establishing clear goals for Service Delivery. And clear goals make it easy to measure and report on success factors.

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ITIL Version 3

Version 3 is a next step towards mature, continuous IT service optimization.

ITIL Version 3 Diagram | HelpSystems

The first revision of ITIL, known as Version 2, took a technology-oriented perspective to coordinate and integrate the best practices. Organizations with less mature IT management processes might want to start with this version of ITIL.

The current revision, Version 3, takes a service management lifecycle approach, managing the development and delivery of IT services from a business perspective. Version 3 is more likely to appeal to organizations that manage IT from a business-value point of view.

Generally your IT organization’s culture and maturity will dictate the version that provides the greatest benefits. More mature organizations with existing strong business-unit involvement can derive more benefits with Version 3, while the technology best practices can help less mature organizations. There is no work lost if you start with Version 2 as all the processes and best practices are easily transferrable to Version 3.

ITIL FAQs

ITIL can be an overwhelming and daunting proposition. Questions abound as we work to grasp what an ITIL implementation really means for our own organizations. We address some of the common questions here.

Not everyone should. Like all projects, ITIL adoption requires a business case. Typically, ITIL is implemented to save money, gain competitive advantage, increase productivity or improve service quality.

Because of the well-defined processes, the business gains a better understanding of the complexity and costs of IT. The enterprise scope of the processes also minimizes duplication of efforts, dropped hand-offs and unapproved work. Additionally, individuals gain a better understanding of roles and responsibilities and how they each contribute to the success of IT and the business.

Some industries are adopting ITIL at a faster rate than others, which may be indicative of their business environments.

The answer to this depends on your situation, of course. Those who have successfully implemented ITIL cite these benefits:

  • Increased process efficiencies
  • Cost savings
  • Increased customer satisfaction
  • Improved IT/business alignment
  • Improved service quality
  • Increased productivity

Overcoming organizational resistance has been cited as one of the key barriers to successful ITIL implementations. As with all change, fear, uncertainty and doubt can be factors among employees. Communication is your best defense.

The major value talking points for ITIL justification are:

  • Improved quality of IT services through execution of consistent, repeatable processes
  • Improved IT organizational efficiency through use of ITIL processes and well-defined roles and responsibilities
  • Better partnership between IT and business as a result of improving communications and establishing common points of reference
  • Lower unit costs by leveraging efficiencies to improve productivity of IT staff and infrastructure resources
  • Meaningful and measurable metrics that gauge IT service performance in business terms

Provide a clear vision and explain why it is important and how you intend to get there. Show that planning has been a thoughtful process, set expectations for results, and provide milestones to gauge progress along the way.

You understand best the challenges your IT organization faces. If you have a particular problem area, you may be wise to start there. However, beware of starting with ITIL components that impact many parts of the organization - the broader the impact, the longer the time and greater the effort to implement. It can also be difficult to quantify the fiscal benefits of far-reaching ITIL processes, making it harder to convince management to stay the course on this long-running project.

There is no right or wrong answer regarding where to start with ITIL. In our experience, when organizations are looking for quick wins, Capacity Management is a good place to start. Starting with Capacity Management offers early wins that often generate enough cost savings to fund the remainder of your ITIL project. It affects a more stand-alone organization and is therefore an easier implementation. The money saved (often millions in our experience) in this area allows costs to be recovered early in the implementation, incentivizing senior management to stay the course and alleviating internal resistance for the project moving forward.

You can be successful; however, lesser benefits will be enjoyed. Without Service Level Agreements (SLAs), performance is judged by perception, which can change hour-by-hour, day-by-day and month-by-month. To satisfy your customers in this situation, excess capacity needs to be in place to accommodate the changes in perception. Therefore the cost reductions realized by right-sizing capacity to measured business needs cannot be attained without SLAs, either formal or informal.

Individuals can get ITIL-certified, but products and companies cannot. If you find a vendor claiming to be an "ITIL-certified company" or offering "ITIL-certified products," be wary.

Getting Started

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Take the Next Step

Read the guide: 

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Getting Started with Capacity Management
Learn what you need to get started with a capacity management practice and how to choose tools to support this aspect of ITIL. 
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Explore the software:

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Vityl Capacity Management Software
See how Vityl Capacity Management helps with capacity planning, performance monitoring, IT analytics, and more.  
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            Version 2   |    Version 3

            ITIL Components:
            Business Relationship Management
            ICT Infrastructure Management
            Application Management
            Security Management
            Service Delivery
                  - Service Level Management
                  - Financial Management
                  - Capacity Management
                  - Availability Management 
                  - Continuity Management
            Service Support
                  - Incident Management
                  - Problem Management
                  - Configuration Management