ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) covers a set of practices and standards for IT service management. It started off as a UK Government project to improve the methodologies used for managing government IT. The UK Government was not specifically an IT organisation but it did, and still does, rely heavily upon IT to support the work it does. ITIL has helped it to use IT in more efficient ways. Organisations outside government saw some of these benefits and now ITIL standards have been adopted by many companies across the world.
Does it really provide a valid framework for IT organisations? Organisations such as NASA and HSBC Bank certainly think so.
The Library is divided into segments (modules) that each concentrate on a specific IT function. Taken individually, applying an ITIL standard to a function can provide great benefits to an organisation. Taken together, the benefits of applying all of the ITIL standards grow enormously as consistent integrated practices are adopted across all IT services management. Some of the areas included in ITIL may not even have been considered by a business, so implementing ITIL ensures a completely rounded-out approach to IT services management.
What does the ITIL framework cover? Essentially it is split into two main areas, service capability and the service lifecycle.
The Service Capability modules provide intense, specialised, process-level knowledge, with a focus on the day-to-day execution of ITIL practices. The following shows information about each module.
Service Offerings and Agreements – This covers management of the service portfolio and service catalogue, service level management, managing demand and suppliers, financial management and managing the relationship between IT and the business.
Release, Control and Validation – This covers the management of change, managing assets and their configurations, validation and testing of services, managing releases and deployments, request fulfillment, evaluating changes, and knowledge management.
Operational Support and Analysis – This is about application management, managing events and incidents, fulfilling requests, managing problems, access management, running a service desk, technical management, and IT operations management.
Planning, Protection and Optimization – Included in this is managing capacity and system availability, service continuity, information security and demand management.
The Service Lifecycle modules provide a broad management focus on ITIL practice areas and work across teams or manage multiple capability areas. The following show the comprehensive range of subjects covered by each module:
Service Strategy – This covers the principles and processes needed for service strategy development, governance, organising and implementing service strategy.
Service Design – This includes the principles and processes of good service design, service design technology-related activities, organizing, implementation and improvement of service design.
Service Transition – This covers service transition principles and processes, managing people through service transitions, organizing, implementing and improving service transition.
Service Operation – This covers common service operation activities, organising and implementing service operations. It also includes details of the principles and processes behind service operation best practice.
Continual Service Improvement (CSI) – This includes the theories behind service improvement, CSI methods and techniques, organizing and implementing continual service improvements.
Many IT organisations within a large company start off as a small IT team within a small company. Over time, the business grows and the IT function grows along with it. The time may come when business management and IT management realise they may not be working together to their full potential. Following a review, it is decided that the company’s approach to IT management and the standards used by IT need an overhaul.
ITIL can come to the rescue of a business like this as it has a ready-made tried-and-tested solution.