ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library)

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ITIL is an internationally recognized and widespread de-facto standard for IT services management and administration, which was developed by OGC in the 1980’s. ITIL comes from the best experiences (actually, it is a summary of the best practices), it represents the framework for handling the IT management in an organization, it deals with a complex of IT services, it focuses on a continual measurement and quality improvement of delivered IT services, both in terms of business and from a customer perspective. This orientation is the main cause of global ITIL success, and it contributed to the widespread use and the key benefits, gained by those organizations that have applied these techniques and processes in their structures. ITIL is not a standard, ITIL contains recommendation and the best practices.: ITIL is used for setting and management of IT processes and services. Its practical applicability and extension has made it de-facto standard for IT management over the entire range of responsibilities of the IT manager (CIO).[1]


ITIL Service Lifecycle[2]
The ITIL Service Lifecycle is split into 5 distinct lifecycle stages. Each stage relies on service principles, processes, roles and performance measures, and each stage is dependent on the other lifecycle stages for inputs and feedback. A constant set of checks and balances throughout the Service Lifecycle ensures that as business demand changes with business need, the services can adapt and respond effectively to them.

  • 1 Service Strategy: Service Strategy sits at the core of the Service Lifecycle and focuses on ensuring that our strategy is defined, maintained and then implemented. There is key guidance for Executive Managers’ around operating according to the business constraints, corporate governance and compliance, legislation, and some cultural aspects of organisational transformation. The focus will enable practical decision making, based on a sound understanding of the offered services, with the ultimate aim of increasing the economic life of all services.

Service Strategy is about ensuring that organisational units in support of the business are in a position to handle the costs and risks associated with their service portfolio, and that they are set up for service improvement.

  • 2. Service Design: At this stage, the focus shifts to converting the strategy into reality, through the use of a consistent approach to the design and development of new service offerings:
    • A consistent use of a common architecture
    • Understanding and translating the business requirements
    • Introducing the appropriate Support requirements upon implementation of the service

The scope of Service Design is also not limited to new services; it includes any changes and improvements necessary to increase or maintain value to customers over the lifecycle of services, such as improved continuity of a service, or improvements necessary to enhance service hours and service levels. Changes required because of new conformance standards and regulations are also relevant as are services bought off the shelf from suppliers.

  • 3 Service Transition: As design and development activities are completed, there is a period for Service Transition with its key purpose to bridge both the gap between projects and operations more effectively, but also to improve any changes that are going into live service, even if it is transferring the control of services between customers and service providers. The Service Transition stage brings together all the assets within a service and ensures these are integrated and tested together. Its focus is on the quality and control of the delivery of a new or changed service into operations. Giving sufficient time and quality effort to this stage of the lifecycle will reduce unexpected variations in delivery of the live services.
  • 4 Service Operation: The operational teams ensure there are robust end-to-end practices which support responsive and stable services. They provide on-going support unit and they are a strong influencer on how the business perceives the service it receives. A key part of this is the Service Desk that directly own and support incident management and request fulfilment for users, including feedback on user satisfaction. Supporting functions to the Service Desk include business support and administration teams. Specific to IT, there are Application Management, and Technical support teams that contribute to the successful resolution of major incidents that affect the business.
  • 5 Continual Service Improvement: Continual Service Improvement works with the other four stages of the service lifecycle to align the services with the business needs, whilst recognising improvement opportunities and change.


ITIL Lifecycle
source: ITILwordpress


History of ITIL [3]
In the 1980’s IT was extremely focused on the ‘underlying technology’of IT rather than the delivery of IT services. Therefore, service delivery was an afterthought that would soon gain prominence when the British government made it a top priority. ITIL can be traced back to around 1986, when the British government recognized that the quality of IT service was extremely insufficient. The Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency (CCTA) were tasked with developing an Operational Guidance framework for more efficient and fiscally responsible use and management of IT resources. In 1988, the CCTA created the Government Information Technology Infrastructure Management (GITIM) framework which focused on Service Support and Service Delivery. In 1989, GITIM was renamed the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL). In the early 1990’s, government agencies and large companies in Europe started to utilize the ITIL framework. ITIL quickly became the de facto standard for IT Service Management. In 2000, the CCTA merged with the Office of Government Commerce (OGC). In 2001, ITIL v2 was released with volumes dedicated to Service Support and Service Delivery. In 2007, ITIL v3 is released, adopting a Service Lifecycle approach to Service Management and a focus on business integration. Today, ITIL is widely recognized as the global standard for IT Service Management. The advent of cloud computing will only increase the demand for high quality IT Service delivery and support. Research has shown that ITIL is used (in one form or another) by almost 75% of enterprise organizations. This demonstrates that large IT organizations continue to seek out effectiveness and efficiency in the delivery of their IT Services, and continue to adopt the principles of ITIL to achieve these goals.


ITIL Benefits and Barriers to Success[4]
The Figure below summarizes the main benefits in favor of ITIL adoption and the potential barriers to success. ITIL is the most comprehensive approach to standardizing IT operations and improving overall management. It is currently used by thousands of companies worldwide with proven results. Most IT managers struggle with a lack of structure and a reactive mode of operation that accompanies a lack of processes and procedures. ITIL offers a solution for putting the pieces of the puzzle into place to take a more proactive approach to improving the IT organization’s performance.


ITIL Benefits and Barriers
source: Computer Economics


Steps to a successful ITIL adoption[5]
According to Forrester, I&O executives and their teams can significantly improve the probability of success when adopting ITIL and reduce the pain of what is ultimately a considerable organizational and cultural change. The trick is to ensure that sufficient planning leads to optimal adoption, not just in the short term, for example, selecting and implementing a service desk tool, but also in the longer-term through an ITSM maturity vision, phased adoption, and support for continued improvement. Whether you’re embarking on a greenfield ITIL adoption or wanting to improve the IT support and IT service delivery of your existing ITSM operations, I&O executives and their teams get started by following these five steps:
Step No. 1: Understand what ITIL is all about, especially the importance of people.
Step No. 2: Be realistic about existing ITSM process maturity and improve them gradually.
Step No. 3: Evaluate technology only after you’ve addressed goals, people, and processes.
Step No. 4: Get the initial planning right, but also plan beyond the “technology project.”
Step No. 5: Regularly communicate ITIL’s value and involve the IT and non-IT stakeholder.
Finally, also consider how ITIL and enabling technologies can be used outside of IT. Think about how the processes and technology can be leveraged by other business functions such as facilities management, complaint management, or people management.

Criticism of ITIL[6]
While a number of researchers have investigated the benefits of the ITIL implementation,[47][48] it has been criticized on several fronts, including:

  • the books are not affordable for non-commercial users
  • implementation and accreditation requires specific training
  • debate over ITIL falling under BSM or ITSM frameworks
  • the ITIL details are not aligned with the other frameworks like ITSM

Rob England (author of the "IT Skeptic" blog) has criticised the protected and proprietary nature of ITIL. He urges the publisher, Cabinet Office, to release ITIL under the Open Government Licence (OGL). CIO Magazine columnist Dean Meyer has also presented some cautionary views of ITIL, including five pitfalls such as "becoming a slave to outdated definitions" and "Letting ITIL become religion." As he notes, "...it doesn't describe the complete range of processes needed to be world class. It's focused on ... managing ongoing services." In a 2004 survey designed by Noel Bruton (author of "How to Manage the IT Helpdesk" and "Managing the IT Services Process"), organizations adopting ITIL were asked to relate their actual experiences in having implemented ITIL. Seventy-seven percent of survey respondents either agreed or strongly agreed that "ITIL does not have all the answers". ITIL proponents accept this, citing ITIL's stated intention to be non-prescriptive, expecting organizations to engage ITIL processes with existing process models. Bruton notes that the claim to non-prescriptiveness must be, at best, one of scale rather than absolute intention, for the very description of a certain set of processes is in itself a form of prescription. While ITIL addresses in depth the various aspects of service management, it does not address enterprise architecture in such depth. Many of the shortcomings in the implementation of ITIL do not necessarily come about because of flaws in the design or implementation of the service management aspects of the business, but rather the wider architectural framework in which the business is situated. Because of its primary focus on service management, ITIL has limited utility in managing poorly designed enterprise architectures, or how to feed back into the design of the enterprise architecture. Closely related to the architectural criticism, ITIL does not directly address the business applications which run on the IT infrastructure; nor does it facilitate a more collaborative working relationship between development and operations teams. The trend toward a closer working relationship between development and operations is termed: DevOps. This trend is related to increased application release rates and the adoption of agile software development methodologies. Traditional service management processes have struggled to support increased application release rates – due to lack of automation – and/or highly complex enterprise architecture. Some researchers group ITIL with lean, Six Sigma and Agile software development operations management. Applying Six Sigma techniques to ITIL brings the engineering approach to ITIL's framework. Applying Lean techniques promotes continuous improvement of the ITIL's best practices. However, ITIL itself is not a transformation method, nor does it offer one. Readers are required to find and associate such a method. Some vendors have also included the term Lean when discussing ITIL implementations, for example "Lean-ITIL". The initial consequences of an ITIL initiative tend to add cost with benefits promised as a future deliverable.[citation needed] ITIL does not provide usable methods "out of the box" to identify and target waste, or document the customer value stream as required by Lean, and measure customer satisfaction.


See Also

IT Governance
Control Objectives for Information and Related Technology (COBIT)
Balanced Scorecard
Enterprise Risk Management (ERM)
Risk Management
IT Strategy (Information Technology Strategy)
Business Strategy
Corporate Governance
Corporate Strategy
Enterprise Architecture
COSO Internal Control- Integrated Framework
Compliance


References

  1. What is ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) Management Mania
  2. What is the ITIL Service Lifecycle ConnectSphere
  3. The History of ITIL EasyVista
  4. ITIL Benefits and Barriers to Success Computer Economics
  5. 5 steps to help with successful ITIL adoption Forrester
  6. Criticism of ITIL Wikipedia


External References

  • An Introductory Overview of ITIL® V3 ITSMF
  • Introduction to ITIL: A Framework for IT Service Management UPenn
  • Introducing ITIL: Best Practices for IT Service Management NYSForum
  • Improving ITIL compliance using change management practices: a finance sector case study Peter Yamakawa et.al