ITSM for high-velocity teams
A guide to ITIL and its place in modern ITSM
As organizations increasingly rely on technology to power their operations, IT teams are emerging as essential business partners. The Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL)—particularly the newest version called ITIL 4—provides a framework that gives IT teams the flexibility and stability they need to support the business successfully.
What is ITIL?
ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) is a widely accepted set of best practices designed to support an organization in gaining optimal value from IT by aligning IT services with business strategy.
The history of ITIL
The British government created ITIL in the 1980s. At its inception, they were looking for a set of standards to improve IT performance. Over the years, ITIL has grown in popularity and evolved as new versions have been released. Axelos, a joint venture between the British Government Cabinet Office and Capita, now owns ITIL. In 2019, they released the latest version, ITIL 4, which takes a more holistic and adaptable approach to ITSM.
ITIL guiding principles
The ITIL framework is built on a set of guiding principles that shape its approach to IT service management. These principles provide a foundation for organizations to align IT services with business strategy, ensuring optimal value from IT investments. Below are the guiding principles of ITIL 4.
Focus on value
ITIL emphasizes the importance of delivering value to the business. The focus is on understanding and meeting the needs of the organization, ensuring that every IT activity contributes to the overall value proposition.
Start where you are
ITIL encourages organizations to assess their current state and build upon existing processes and practices. This principle promotes a practical and realistic approach to improvement, acknowledging the unique context of each organization.
Progress iteratively with feedback
The iterative approach is central to ITIL 4, allowing for continuous improvement. Organizations are urged to implement changes in small, manageable increments, with a constant feedback loop to refine and enhance processes over time.
Collaborate and promote visibility
Collaboration is key to successful IT service management. ITIL advocates for open communication and collaboration among teams, promoting visibility into processes and activities to foster a culture of shared responsibility and continual service improvement.
Think and work holistically
ITIL encourages a holistic perspective, considering the entire service value system. This principle emphasizes the interconnectedness of different components within an organization and promotes a comprehensive understanding of how they contribute to the overall business objectives.
Keep it simple and practical
Simplicity and practicality are core principles of ITIL. Organizations are advised to avoid unnecessary complexity and focus on solutions that are straightforward, effective, and aligned with business goals.
Optimize and automate
Continuous optimization and automation are essential for efficiency. ITIL promotes the use of technology to automate repetitive tasks and streamline processes, allowing IT and operations management teams to focus on delivering value-added services.
Achieving ITIL certification is a valuable endeavor for IT professionals and organizations seeking to enhance their IT service management capabilities. ITIL certification provides individuals with a comprehensive understanding of ITIL practices and principles, equipping them with the knowledge and skills needed to contribute to effective IT operations and service delivery.
How ITIL helps businesses
ITIL plays a crucial role in supporting businesses by providing a flexible and stable framework for IT service management. The adoption of ITIL, particularly the latest version, ITIL 4, brings several benefits:
Alignment of IT goals with business goals: ITIL helps organizations align their IT goals with overall business objectives, ensuring that IT services contribute directly to the success of the business.
Cost tracking and optimization: By implementing ITIL practices, organizations can track IT costs more effectively and optimize resources to enhance cost efficiency.
Streamlined service delivery: ITIL promotes a structured approach to service management, leading to streamlined and efficient delivery of IT services. This, in turn, contributes to improved customer satisfaction.
Flexibility and collaboration: With an emphasis on guiding principles and a more agile framework, ITIL 4 encourages flexibility and collaboration within IT teams. This adaptability is vital as organizations evolve and seek new ways of working.
Value creation: The ITIL framework places a strong focus on value creation, ensuring that every IT activity contributes meaningfully to the overall value proposition of the organization.
ITIL is a valuable asset for organizations navigating the complexities of modern IT service management processes. Whether through certification programs or the adoption of ITIL practices, businesses can use this framework to enhance their IT capabilities and better align with the dynamic needs of the business landscape.
ITIL vs ITSM: What’s the difference?
To understand the difference between ITIL and ITSM, let’s start by defining ITSM. ITSM, or IT service management, is how IT teams manage the end-to-end delivery of IT services to customers. This includes all the processes and activities to design, create, deliver, and support IT services. ITSM is service-centric; its core concept is the belief that IT should be provided as a service.
So, while ITSM is a methodology for delivering IT to the business, ITIL is a commonly used set of practices that outlines how to implement ITSM in a company. For those familiar with Agile methodologies, the difference between ITSM and ITIL is akin to the one between Agile and Scrum. While ITSM (or Agile) is a methodology, ITIL (or Scrum) is a framework for implementing that methodology.
The connection between the two is strong; ITIL was created with ITSM in mind. However, the distinction between the two can be boiled down to one idea: ITIL is a framework or a set of guidelines to assist in implementing the activities involved in ITSM.
The ITIL framework
The release of ITIL 4 brought changes to ITIL that place it within the context of emerging technologies like Lean, Agile, and DevOps. It guides teams into a holistic, business, and customer-value frame of reference. With this latest update, ITIL has become more flexible and adaptable. This change is evident in the new ITIL 4 framework and guiding principles.
For example, ITIL 4 introduced the Service Value System, in which the key inputs are opportunity or demand, and the key output is value. The components of the ITIL SVS include:
- ITIL Guiding Principles
- ITIL Service value chain
- ITIL Practices
- Continual Improvement
A side-by-side comparison of the ITIL 4 Guiding Principles and the Agile Manifesto will show that this new version of ITIL promotes a more agile way of working:
ITIL 4 and Agile principles compared
|The ITIL 4 guiding principles
|The Agile Manifesto
|The ITIL 4 guiding principles
|The Agile Manifesto
The ITIL management practices
ITIL® Foundation: ITIL 4 Edition, Table 5.1, The ITIL management practices
In general, ITIL 4 brings a greater focus to things like people and culture and discourages the use of any heavy, burdensome, or rigid processes that may create siloes. We believe ITIL 4 is a positive step in the direction of an approach to ITSM that values collaboration, ease of use, and business value creation.
Should your organization use the ITIL framework?
To be certain, there are several benefits to adopting ITIL. Bringing the kind of structure that ITIL does to your IT team can help better align IT goals with business goals, track IT costs, streamline service delivery, and keep your customers happy.
Some think ITIL/ITSM is too structured and process-driven and promotes the adoption of DevOps instead. We don’t think it’s an either/or decision; successful IT teams can draw from ITIL/ITSM and DevOps practices.
It’s important to remember, however, that the architecture of ITIL 4 specifically encourages and enables flexibility. The point of ITIL is not to create strict rules and heavy processes but rather to provide adaptable guidelines. You and your team should evaluate the ITIL framework, practices, and guidelines and implement what works for you. And above all else, avoid rigidity and work siloes.
As IT teams evolve and look for new ways of working, ITIL is growing with them. It’s no longer necessary or encouraged to strictly adhere to all of the processes outlined by ITIL and ITSM. Instead, IT teams are embracing greater flexibility and more collaboration. Check out our ITIL 4 guide to see how you can bring more agility and collaboration into your ITSM practices.