What is ITIL? Find the Foundations of ITIL, its Meaning, and Framework
Though a mere 30 years old, the Information Technology Infrastructure
Library–or ITIL–has already become a household name for businesses with
a heavy IT component. Why is ITIL so revolutionary and what is it about
ITIL that makes businesses sit up and take notice? Here we will try and
explain not only what it is, but why it has become such an invaluable business tool.
The History of ITIL
ITIL began back in the 1980s through the British Government’s Central Computer and T
elecommunications Agency (CCTA). The first edition included 30 books and brought t
ogether best practices in information technology from a variety of vendors including
IBM’s A Management System for Information Systems which was already thought of as an
In April 2001, the CCTA was rolled into the Office of Government Commerce and they
adopted as their mission to work with the UK public sector to increase efficiency,
value and improved delivery success of IT programs and projects.
This has continued and grown over the years and ITIL’s credibility has become
recognized more broadly. In 2005, its practices contributed to and aligned with
the ISO/IEC 20000 Service Management standard, the first international standard
for IT service management.
Since 2013, ITIL has been owned by Axelos–a joint venture between the Cabinet Office
(formerly the Office of Government Commerce) and Capita. Axelos grants businesses
licenses to use the ITIL framework and manages updates and process changes. Though
to use ITIL internally, organizations do not need a license.
A newer version of ITIL–version 3 was released in 2011 under the Cabinet Office
bringing updates to the 2007 version. And in 2018, version 4 was released, the biggest
revision to date.
This most recent revision addresses some larger issues like modern technology,
tools and software. Since the 2011 update, IT has become more and more integral
to every aspect of business and the new ITIL framework accommodates this through
flexibility and collaborative approaches.
What are ITIL Core Concepts and Framework?
At its foundation, ITIL is based on several key ideas for best practices for the IT
and business relationship. Some of these include:
Delivering maximum value to customers
Optimizing resources and capabilities
Offering services that are useful and reliable
Planning processes with specific goals in mind
Defining roles clearly for each task
Furthermore, ITIL is structured into a framework to define how it enhances service quality:
Service Strategy: Is the service strategy in line with business objectives? Will
it bring value to the customer?
Service Design: The designing of services taking into account all supporting elements
for introduction into the environment. The areas that should be taken into consideration are the “Four Ps of Service Design”
Service Transition: This phase seeks to build and deploy IT services and ensure that
changes are carried out in a coordinated fashion.
Continual Service Improvement: The goal of this stage is to use quality management
to learn from successes and failures to continue to improve all IT processes and services.
One thing that is noticeable in ITIL v4 is that some of the terminology and focus has
shifted significantly. But the basic tenets of ITIL remain constant.
How Does an Organization Put ITIL Into Practice?
Yes, ITIL is a collection of E-books but merely spending a weekend reading won’t get your
IT operations working at full steam. Of course, you as the sponsor of the project have to
thoroughly understand the concepts. But then you have to get buy-in from all the staff who
will be affected. And IT personnel can be resistant to change. But ITIL has thought of that!
ITIL comes with a ton of training, consulting and certification services to lighten the load.
Axelos as the owner of
ITIL personnel certification
and exams makes sure they are administered
by Accredited Training Organizations (ATOs). And that accreditations are administered by
Strategic Examination Institutes (EIs). EIs need to be accredited by Axelos in order to offer
accreditation to ATOs. I know it sounds like a lot but it’s important for consistency.
What will ITIL Do to Improve my Business?
As the last two years have shown, a well-run IT organization can manage risk and proactively
keep the infrastructure of a company solid. This saves both money and human capital time.
Some other benefits to a business may include:
Reduced IT costs
Improved IT services through the use of proven best practices
Improved customer satisfaction through a more professional approach to service delivery
Standards and Guidance
Improved use of skills and experience
Improved delivery of third-party services
In addition, the business improves by:
Managing risk, disruptions and failures
Strengthening customer relations
Establishing cost-effective practices
Building a stable environment that still provides growth
What Will be the Cost?
Of course, as with every new project, cost is always a factor. Purchase of ITIL will
be necessary in some form from Axelos. It is available as hardcopy, PDF, ePub or through
an online subscription. The company should definitely also include training costs.
Add in the costs of adjustments and re-engineering of whatever processes deemed necessary
to comply with ITIL guidelines. This may include help desk or software purchases to track
information and generate metrics. Some software options you might consider with ITIL in mind:
Samange: service desk automation with an ITIL framework
InvGate Service Desk: A web-based ITIL-ready service
ManageEngine ServiceDesk Plus: Web-based help desk and asset management available in an ITIL edition
Vision Helpdesk: A multifunction service desk solution with ITIL integration
How Much Money Will a Company Save?
Most corporations and other businesses that have successfully implemented ITIL have reported
significant savings. Here are a few success stories:
Procter and Gamble saved about $500 million over four years by reducing help desk calls
and improving operating procedures
Nationwide Insurance achieved a 40% reduction in system outages and estimates a $4.3
million ROI over three years
Capital One reduced its “business critical” incidents by 92% over two years
But like anything, you get out of it what you put into it. Unless you have IT cooperation
and buy-in from other affected departments, any implementation is doomed. Bringing ITIL to
an organization is as much a sales job as anything. You really won’t know the ROI on your
ITIL investment until it’s completely up and running. Because it will only be as successful
as complete company adoption allows.
The decision to implement ITIL should be done with great thought and much research. But
it can be a huge time and money saver and benefit your internal and external customers
for years to come.