The IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) is a globally recognized set of processes and standards that support IT Service Management (ITSM). More and more, enterprises are turning to an ITIL and ITSM program to manage their business processes more effectively, cut costs, operate more efficiently and align the delivery of IT services with enterprise needs -- thereby making these services more useful to business customers.
In this guide, learn about the role of an ITIL and ITSM program and the ways it can benefit the enterprise. In addition, discover the work involved in maintaining an ITIL and ITSM program, as well as ways to avoid its potential drawbacks.
This guide is part of SearchCIO.com’s CIO Briefings series, which is designed to give IT leaders strategic management and decision-making advice on timely topics.
Table of contents:
ITIL and ITSM program benefits
ITIL was developed by the U.K. government in the 1980s as an effort to search out best practices for the management of IT services. Some 30 years and many revisions later, the ITIL framework can still be a little confusing. Is it a theory, a standard, a methodology? Where does one start?
IT professionals, for example, talk about "implementing" ITIL. ITIL's present-day authors and experts, however, are quick to stress that the library's core books -- from strategy and design through continuous improvement -- elucidate an approach, not a detailed how-to, for ITSM -- although Version 3, the framework's most recent iteration, changes that up a bit.
Learn more in "Getting clarity on the ITIL framework from ITIL's chief architect."
ITIL and ITSM programs in the enterprise
ITIL guidelines are used by IT companies to evaluate their service delivery standards and achieve optimum performance. Problem management is an important process as defined under ITIL. ITIL problem management addresses common IT incidents (problems or issues) and aims to prevent their recurrence.
There are two versions of ITIL currently in use: Version 2 (published in 2006) and Version 3 (published in 2007). Most companies continue to use the older Version 2, although it was announced in 2009 that certification for ITIL V2 will be withdrawn going forward.
Find out more in "ITIL problem management process simplified."
ITIL and governance videos for CIOs
ITIL and ITSM program drawbacks
When SearchCIO.com reached David Cannon, co-author of the Service Operation book in ITIL Version 3 and head of the ITSM practice at Hewlett-Packard Co., he was busy updating the Service Strategy book for ITIL Version 3.1. ITSM and the IT service catalog are foremost about service, he explained. In the 1960s and even into the 1980s, professionals who thought about managing IT often borrowed from concepts applied to manufacturing environments, such as the assembly line, he said. In his view, a more apt analogy is the restaurant, which presents a menu to customers and on any given day, must be prepared to respond to their demands adroitly. Here is a condensed version of the interview.
Where do you advise companies to begin when building an IT service catalog?
Cannon: The very first thing -- and this is not as easy as it sounds -- is to list services that you think you are providing. You don't need a sophisticated tool to do this. You can do it in a Word document or Excel spreadsheet.
Here is why it is more difficult than it sounds. When you speak to different people in the organization, they all think about the service somewhat differently, and they all call it something different.
Learn more in "The fundamentals of launching an IT service catalog."
ITIL and ITSM program maintenance
Having put in the hard work to understand your service catalog, you certainly don't want it to go to waste. Here, four ITSM experts offer tips for making sure the IT service catalog doesn't sit on a shelf.
Lead by example: The cardinal rule of any major IT-business initiative is buy-in from the top ranks, and the IT service catalog is no exception. Senior management from IT and the business must make a commitment to use the catalog. "The service catalog is far more likely to have a cultural change effect and success when championed by senior management than if it is a missive put out by midlevel management," said Sharon Taylor, chief architect for ITIL and president at Aspect Group Inc.
Don't implement the IT service catalog as an IT project: "When things go wrong, it is because the service catalog is considered an IT project rather than a business transformation initiative," Taylor said. Another mistake is thinking of the catalog as a project, period. Projects imply a finish date. "[The] IT service catalog is a way of life," said Pierre Bernard, chief examiner for ITIL service catalog certification for APMG-International.
Find out more in "Don't let your IT service catalog go to waste: Six maintenance tips."