Information Technology Infrastructure Library or ITIL, is recognized around the world as the best-practice method for IT service management and delivering IT services. It concentrates on the functions, processes, and capacities needed to support IT services in an organization.
With today’s competition, businesses need to stay in the game and organize all aspects of their operations, including IT in order to ensure a competitive advantage. It is important to follow the best practices in the industry to make certain that they are using the best methods and strategies available in order to provide products and services on time.
Several best-practice methods in IT are available, and a business can use them as a standard to make certain that they efficiently deliver their services. It is crucial to recognize that these methods should enable IT service providers in order to satisfy the customer needs, while preserving cost efficiency and sticking to the budget.
There are numerous sources of best practices for service management. These include internal experience or proprietary knowledge, standard practices in the industry, and academic research or training/education.
Internal training or proprietary knowledge is usually an integral component of the organization. Even though this is critical, it can be difficult to disseminate with another business. Also, this is usually not properly documented, and held as knowledge by a certain individual or group in the organization. It is unique to the organization, but can be tailor fitted as to be in exclusive use of the organization.
Standard practices in the industry are more suitable to organizations in comparison with proprietary knowledge. Commonly used practices and standards are gathered, documented, and publicly disseminated. These can also be verified in different situations and settings, instead of relying on the experience of one organization. The standards are more susceptible for evaluation by suppliers, competitors, and partners. Commonly used standards are Six Sigma, Lean, CMMI, PMBOK, ISO/IEC2000, ISO 9000, ISO/IEC 27001, COBIT, PRINCE2, and ITIL. Meanwhile, educational research is publicly available and it allows organizations to enhance the knowledge of their staff in a constant approach. It is ideal for organizations to acquire knowledge in the industry, because the levels of qualifications and skills can be standardized.
By using standard practices and publicly accessible knowledge, organizations can establish their own proprietary knowledge and implement the best approach according to their organizational needs.
ITIL was first used in the 1980s, and for a while, it was an industry secret of the IT sector. However, because of its successful framework, it has become the preferred method when it comes to service management excellence. The Office of Government Commerce (OCG), formerly known as the Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency (CCTA), delegated the task of creating an effective and efficient work structure for the use of IT resources for government agencies as well as in the private companies.
ITIL was known as the Government Information Technology Infrastructure Management (GIIT) system that was quite different from the current version, but it was also created for the support and delivery of IT services. Because of the effectiveness and efficiency of the structure, many large organizations also used ITIL and the framework became popular not only in the UK but also across other countries around the world. In fact, in 2000, Microsoft adopted ITIL as a foundation to build their own trademarked framework – the Microsoft Operations Framework (MOF) that significantly improved the acceptance and reputation of ITIL among other companies.
The current version of ITIL is ITIL 2011, which was launched in July 2011. This is an update to ITIL Version 3. At present, ITIL is owned by Axelos, which is a joint venture between Capital PLC and UK Cabinet Office.
The primary reason for its popular adoption is that it is based on a practical method to service management using what is effective in actual organizations. The guiding concept behind this structure is to make certain that all efforts are driven towards one goal: to provide IT services that will support the business requirements by providing value to the organization and eventually to its customers.
The following factors contribute to the success of ITIL as a service management framework:
The ITIL structure is not based on a certain type of industry or a technological platform. It is not connected to any specific vendor, because the government of the UK owns it and has no ties to commercial solutions or proprietary practices. Hence, the guidance it offers for service management can be used across any enterprise or industry sector.
The real advantage of using ITIL is that the structure can be customized to meet the certain requirements to create value for the organization. The framework features robust, mature, and time tested strategies and practices, which can be used by any service organization. It can be used for both public and private sectors, external and internal service providers, and organizations of any size. It does not rely on the technological setting, and it offers practical guidance that can be used in any situation.
The key to the success of the ITIL framework is that it describes practices that will improve the capacity of any organization to deliver services and constantly provide value to their customers through a sustainable method. The following are some of the factors, which motivate the organizations to use the ITIL framework:
1. Establishment of value for customers through the provided services.
2. The emphasis on the integration with the business to make certain that the business strategy and customer needs are manifested in the service management strategy
3. The capacity to monitor, measure, and improve IT services and then enhance the performance of the service providers
4. Management of risk related to the industry or organization
5. Budgetary controls and management of the investment in IT services
6. Management of knowledge all throughout the service management enterprise
7. The effective and efficient delivery of services through resource management and needed capabilities
8. Utilization of a standard method in service management all throughout the organization
9. Enhancement in the relationship and interaction between the customers and the service providers
10. The capacity to coordinate the delivery of goods and services to optimize costs
In order to understand the service lifecycle, it is important to begin with the concept of a service. The ITIL framework defines a service as a method of delivering value, by ensuring the results that customers want without the ownership of certain costs and risks.
The services facilitate the preferred results by improving the performance of the required work relevant to the delivery of the service, and minimizing the effect of restrictions, such as funding, technology limitations, or government regulations. With these controls in place, there is a greater likelihood that the preferred outcome will be achieved. This is relevant whether the service is improving the performance of the work needed by the organization or it is doing the job itself.
This is a recurring pattern in the delivery of different services. Learning these patterns in providing services will help the organization to effectively manage the delivery as regards to cost, complexity, variety, and flexibility. To put it simply, you can use the same strategic method in managing different range of services and make some minor changes to make the framework compatible with the certain requirements of the business. This is the underlying concept of ITIL method for service management.
By concentrating the desired outcome from the perspective of the customer and managing the services based on the delivery of the result, the organization can attain integration of IT and business, instead of alignment. You can only effectively deliver the services once you completely understand the needed results.
In order to maintain high levels of business performance, organizations need to provide highly competitive products and services that will provide value for the customer. Responsive adaptation to the changes in the economic situation and in the industry is significant. All services provided must enable the growth and transformation of the business.
The ITIL framework encourages this transformation through the Service Lifecycle, which is divided into five specific stages:
Every stage depends on the service processes, principles, roles and performance measures, and every stage is integrated with each other for feedback mechanism. The check and balance approach in the Service Lifecycle makes certain that as a business requires changes with the need, the services can effectively respond and adapt to them.