Over the last decade, many companies have sought to improve IT service management efficiency by embracing the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) framework – and the numbers are steadily rising. Early adopters of ITIL, which is the world’s most widely accepted IT service management methodology, include such notable organizations as Proctor & Gamble and IBM.
According to Wikipedia, ITIL is “a set of concepts and practices for managing information technology (IT) services, IT development, and IT operations”. Trademarked by the UK’s Office of Government Commerce, it originated in 1989 – in part, due to companies’ ever-growing dependence on their IT infrastructures – as a catalog of books, each providing consistent, proven, documented best practices that highlight a specific aspect of IT operations. Many believe that the concepts and practices covered within these books are loosely based on a set of processes for controlling and managing IT operations.
The various components and elements of ITIL include:
- Service Support. Request management, incident management, problem management, and other processes are aimed at ensuring that end users have the appropriate technologies and services to perform their jobs.
- Service Delivery. Service level management, capacity management, IT service continuity and availability management, and other activities help IT departments proactively provide needed services to end users.
- Service Management Implementation, which defines processes for developing a vision, analyzing the organization, defining objectives, and deploying related services.
- Security Management, which is designed to keep all applications, information, and systems fully protected.
- Infrastructure Management. This discipline directly relates to the management of software and hardware made available to end users, and includes design and planning, deployment, operations, and technical support.
- Business Perspective, a collection of best practices for enhancing IT service provision.
- Application Management, procedures and policies aimed at improving software development efforts across the entire lifecycle.
- Software Asset Management. Practices such as software license compliance, inventory tracking, and software definition, configuration, use, and retirement help minimize the cost and risk associated with the acquisition, utilization, and maintenance of software assets.
Today, ITIL encompasses not only the advice provided by the published volumes (which grew to more than 30 before being consolidated and re-organized into eight logical sets in 2001), it offers a supporting professional qualification scheme.
Companies can adopt ITIL in a variety of ways. They can follow its policies exactly as specified. Or, because the descriptions, checklists, tasks, and procedures offered by ITIL are flexible, many businesses choose to incorporate only those aspects that are most applicable to their specific business needs, or opt to tailor or modify various practices to address unique requirements.
Those companies that have embraced ITIL have reported significant benefits, including:
- Minimized IT expenses and better control over IT budgets
- Improved IT service delivery and better alignment of IT with the business needs
- Enhanced end user satisfaction
- Better adherence to IT standards and guidelines
- Increased productivity and resource allocation