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ITIL v3 Continual Service Improvement: FAQs on Book 5

ITIL expert Kathryn Pizzo answers users' questions about ITIL Core Practice Book 5: Continual Service Improvement.

The IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) Core Practice Book 5 on Continual Service Improvement offers direction on how to ensure that a service delivers the maximum benefit. Following a live expert webcast on, Kathryn Pizzo answered the following user questions related to the book:

What's the difference between continuous service improvement and continual service improvement?

More on ITIL v3 Book 5
ITIL v3 Core Practice Book 5: Continual Service Improvement -- Expert Webcast

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Continuous implies a strong continuity that has no break or interruption. Continual, on the other hand, means a close and unbroken succession of events that may have pauses in between. Continual is thus more appropriate in the case of ITIL improvements, as they are repetitive in nature but with pauses of days or months between the improvement activities.

Who is the best audience or user for the ITIL v3 Continual Service Improvement book?

The Continual Service Improvement book is aimed at people who would like to review current IT service management practices of an organization in order to pinpoint, understand and measure their strengths and weaknesses. As such, anyone who is responsible or accountable for quality service delivery would find the book of value, and such roles as process owners and managers easily come to mind.

To what extent does ITIL v3 support ISO 20000?

ISO/IEC 20000 defines a formal and standard set of requirements for the delivery of managed services. ITIL compliments and supports ISO 20000 by providing the best practices that can help in the achievement of those standards. The ITIL Service Lifecycle provides an integrated approach that is required by ISO/IEC 20000. For example, the Continual Service Improvement phase of ITIL implements the closed-loop feedback system based on the Plan, Do, Check, Act (PDCA) model specified in ISO/IEC 20000.

This alignment between ITIL and ISO/IEC 20000 is most visible in the following areas:

  • Service Level Management -- Ensuring that the service provider remains focused on the customer throughout the planning, implementation and ongoing management of service delivery.
  • Service Reporting -- Producing service reports to meet identified needs and customer requirements.
  • Business Relationship Management -- Establishing and maintaining a good relationship between the service provider and the customer based on understanding the customer and the customer's business drivers.

Ref: ITIL Continual Service Improvement book, Appendix 1

How does ITIL v3 relate to Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI)?

CMMI is a process improvement approach that provides guidance for improving the ability to manage the lifecycle of products and services, and is focused on the required organizational practices. CMMI provides a model of what to do but does not specify how to do it or who does it. ITIL is strong in IT processes, and with v3, it has improved its coverage of the service design process. ITIL is useful in helping achieve the goals that are established by CMMI. For example, CMMI's goal of establishing a base line of identified work products for configuration management can be achieved through ITIL v3's Service Asset and Configuration Management and its use of CMDBs.
Ref: ITIL Continual Service Improvement book, Appendix 1

Is there a mapping between the new processes in ITIL v3 and COBIT?

Not yet. Part of the complimentary materials being developed for ITIL v3 is a document that maps ITIL v3 to COBIT, and vice versa.

Does ITIL v3 give some sample reports and metrics that can be implemented or followed?

Yes. Table 4.11 of the Continual Service Improvement book, for example, provides some sample key performance indicators (KPIs) for different service management processes. There are also various templates and checklists throughout the book, especially in the appendix section of each book. Expect to see more detailed and specific guidance on the application of ITIL when complementary guidance is released by the official ITIL bodies.

Kathryn Pizzo is a senior consultant at Pultorak & Associates Ltd. in Seattle.

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