The Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) is a set of best practices for IT service management that focuses on aligning IT services with the needs of the businesses who employ them. To achieve this, the framework utilizes processes, tasks, procedures, and checklists that can be used by virtually any business; they’re designed to be versatile and flexible in order to standardize IT service across organizations, and even across industries. It allows an organization to set a baseline of IT knowledge in order to plan for growth, implement ideas, and measure changes this knowledge.
The recommendations are currently managed by AXELOS, who license organizations to use the framework and manages updates to the system. Utilizing this framework aligns IT services with a business’s needs and expenses, so that the whole system can evolve as one. Ultimately, the goal is to improve a company’s overall efficiency and achieve predictable and reliable levels of service.
A Brief History of ITIL
In the 1980s, the UK Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency realized that the world was becoming increasingly dependent on IT, and that governments and large private sector players were all separately developing IT practices. The agency set out to standardize IT service methods. The practice recommendations began as a single volume, which quickly ballooned into 30 volumes. These were gradually whittled down by grouping related guidelines together. In 2001, version 2 was unveiled with 9 cohesive volumes. The latest update of v3, originally released in 2007, happened in 2011, and aimed to bring recommendations in line with evolving technologies.
The Structure of ITIL
With v3, the number of volumes was again reduced, this time to just 5, each of which has a different focus. One volume focuses on service, which encompasses practices around explaining business goals and customer requirements. The volume on service design illustrates how a company can put their IT strategies into action, and the volume covering service transition walks through implementation of IT services. The final two volumes focus on best practices after implementation, including managing the operation of IT service, and continual service improvement, which helps adopters plan upgrades and updates to their IT service.
The framework is designed for creative use. Adopters do not need to employ all of its functions, just the ones that benefit their business model. Companies that do employ the framework receive their licensing from AXELOS. IT professionals and other individuals who work with the framework are certified experts, who go through various stages of training in order to reach higher levels of expertise; there are currently 5 titles you can earn, with Master requiring the highest tier of knowledge.
The Benefits for Your Business
The benefits of employing ITIL in an enterprise are numerous. The main goal is to create consistent and repeatable processes, which increases the accountability of your IT department. Since IT service performances become predictable, management has ample opportunity to collect and review metrics that can lead to improvements and changes, such as identifying and mitigating business risks, preventing service disruptions so businesses can get on with essential tasks, and demonstrating where cost-savings could be realized. Using an ITIL framework has far-reaching implications, helping businesses do everything from improving client relationships to establishing cost-effective processes and procedures. Having best practices in place can also guide businesses through changes and help them negotiate transition periods with relative ease. By using the framework, organizations can also learn how to leverage IT as a tool for growth—a far cry from understandings of IT service in the past. By implementing an ITIL framework, businesses gain advantages and insights that make them smarter, more efficient organizations.