While there are many ITIL definitions on the Internet (and many articles written), you’re often left wondering what it all means.
So, what does ITIL stand for? ITIL is the acronym for Information Technology Infrastructure Library. While this longer name is still officially in place, it is now more commonly known as just ITIL. ITIL is a globally recognized set of best practices for Information Technology Service Management (ITSM).
The British Government created ITIL when it recognized that the ever-increasing dependence on IT required a set of standard practices. The standard is now published and owned in a joint venture between a private company, Capita, and the United Kingdom Cabinet Office, named Axelos.
The official definition of ITIL is:
“A set of best-practice publications for IT service management. ITIL gives guidance on the provision of quality IT services and the processes, functions and other capabilities needed to support them. The ITIL framework is based on a service lifecycle and consists of five stages (service strategy, service design, service transition, service operation and continual service improvement), each of which has its own supporting publication. There is also a set of complementary ITIL publications providing guidance specific to industry sectors, organization types, operating models and technology architecture.”
But, the best way to think about ITIL is as a simple and practical framework that focuses on aligning your Information Technology (IT) services with the wider needs of your business. ITIL is about making smart improvements to your IT service management processes. And it’s really practical, not simply a mass of theory (in fact, ITIL was born from practical experience and not in a university classroom). And ITIL can help your organization deliver best practice in ITSM, whatever the size of your company or the industry you’re in.
Both companies and individuals can comply with ITIL, but only individuals can become certified. The 20000Academy service is aimed at helping organizations become compliant with ITIL.
To understand the importance of ITIL, it’s vital to understand the relationship between IT and the overall success of your organization. You rely upon IT to help you achieve your organizational goals. It affects how you operate and how you communicate – it’s a fundamental element of how you do business.
You use IT to overcome your competitors, to reach larger audiences, to become more productive and more efficient. In myriad ways, IT is vital to improving revenues, reducing costs and enhancing your reputation.
So, it’s crucial that you get the most from your IT investments – meaning IT services must be well planned, designed, managed and delivered. Without high-quality IT service management, IT projects routinely fail or go over budget. Ongoing costs become hard to manage, and you often see businesses fail before achieving any return on their investment.
So, put simply, high-quality IT service management standards are fundamental to your success – it’s not too much to say that they can make or break your organization.
ITIL is organized into the following five stages (broadly defined here):
By comparing your current processes to the globally respected ITIL standards of best practice, you gain a clear picture of how you can improve.
With ever-increasing pressure to get more from less, you may wonder how you’ll ever find the time or resources to focus on process improvement. But, it is the organizations that make this commitment that will ultimately win the competition.
Become more productive – With an ITIL qualification, you can develop your skills to perform your IT role better, allowing you to help your organization improve overall productivity.
Focus on what matters – With everyone in your team operating under clear roles and responsibilities, you’ll spend less of your time cleaning up other issues, leaving you to get on with the important parts of your job.
Become more valued – With the skills, knowledge and experience gained through ITIL qualifications, you’ll become a more valued asset in your organization and more respected by senior management.
Implement ITIL more effectively – When an organization has qualified ITIL practitioners, the chances of successful compliance with ITIL best practice guidelines are considerably higher.
Improve career prospects – Having this premium qualification in ITSM best practice makes you a more appealing candidate in any job you apply for. Just like compliance with ITIL is a competitive differentiator for a company, so it is for an individual.
So, how do you get ITIL?
It’s important to realize that ITIL is not a standard. It is a framework of guidance and best practice. The standard that defines IT Service Management is ISO 20000, which is essentially underpinned by ITIL best practices (read more about what is ISO 20000 here).
The basic difference between ISO 20000 and ITIL is that ISO 20000 gives you the methodology and framework to put all the pieces of the ITSM jigsaw puzzle together, while ITIL gives you the details (the best practices) on how to manage each and every IT process in your organization.
A good way to think of it is that ISO 20000 says what you need to do, while ITIL tells you how to do it.
For more information, please read our white paper: “ITIL vs ISO 20000.”
Only individuals can get certified for ITIL, not organizations. But, organizations can gain all the benefits of ITIL by becoming compliant with its best practices.
You can gain an ITIL qualification for each of the levels, with each certificate providing you with credits toward the more advanced levels.
You can then achieve the ITIL Master level, which requires you to prove your expertise in real-world circumstances (as opposed to passing exams).
At each level there is a multiple choice exam that will test your understanding of the ITIL framework. The question you probably have now is: Will it be hard work? The honest answer is yes, and no.
Yes, the ITIL framework contains a detailed set of guidelines and best practices that will be tested. But, if you’re an IT professional with some experience under your belt, you are probably already familiar with many of the principles of ITIL.
And what’s more, you can work quickly through the stages. In fact, if you’re focused, the time to complete the foundation stage can be counted in days, not months. For the more advanced levels there will be a larger commitment of time, with perhaps a year required to complete the intermediate stage, for example.
There is no independent audit or assessment of your compliance with ITIL – and no official certification. But, your organization can take the steps to become ITIL compliant (and reap the many benefits of doing so). A logical, step-by-step process to achieve such compliance would look like this:
So, what does implementation look like?
Remember: there is no rule that you have to implement the entire ITIL model in one go. You can choose to phase the required changes over time.
To learn more about ITIL implementation, please visit our ITIL Free download page. You’ll find a host of helpful resources.
While performing daily IT Service Management activities i.e. supporting your users, maintaining the services…etc. you are performing activities which are part of your internal processes. How efficient are they? Is something missing? What is the best practice?