What Does ITIL Mean to Your IT Service Management (ITSM) Plan?
ITIL is a globally recognized set of standards and best practices in support of an overarching IT Service Management plan. ITIL, or IT Infrastructure Library, began as an UK book series whose goal was to standardize IT management – this is important to note that it is much different than standardizing IT solutions.
These texts rapidly evolved to become a globally recognized guideline for IT service delivery and are utilized by a number of major organizations including Disney, NASA, Wal-Mart, the IRS and much more.
How does ITIL dictate an ITSM plan?
An ITSM plan affects 5 major business areas. Most of which focuses on planning and then the last is on the specific activities that need to be completed (discussed with more detail in this blog post, What is IT Service Management (ITSM)?).
The Lifecycle series of the ITIL books addresses the IT specific steps in full detail from a business planning and management concentration. The Capability stream focuses on the processes involved and how to practice them.
So if you have questions related to an area of ITSM, just find the corresponding ITIL text, from either a manager’s or practitioner’s perspective.
Here’s the breakdown of how your ITIL Lifecycle stream fits into your the creation of your ITSM plan:
- ITIL Service Strategy – This book corresponds with the business objectives and IT service management areas of an ITSM plan in that it focuses on the business relationship and how to best position the organization, and more specifically the IT department, to achieve a set of goals.
- ITIL Service Design – This text focuses on incorporating the user’s involvement to develop a comprehensive plan that will contribute to long-term success.
- ITIL Service Transition – The above books all focus on the planning phases but once the project is done there needs to be a set of standards that will help roll it out to the organization as a whole so that it can be utilized.
- ITIL Service Operation – This directs the creation of a SLA that will be leveraged when dealing with tech problems.
- ITIL Continual Service Improvement – In ITSM, continual improvement is a must, and this is the book that addresses how an IT department can reduce costs and improve efficiency in their processes.
This section will look into how you get your ITSM team up to speed on how to carry out each of the processes you list above in your planning stages:
- ITIL Operational Support & Analysis – This aspect looks at operational activities such as Incident and Event Management and how to best carry out those processes in order to provide operational support of service and delivery.
- ITIL Planning, Protection & Optimization – This part of ITIL considers the knowledge needed in order to properly plan, deliver and manager SLAs. One major aspect of this text focuses on the ability to manage user needs/expectations with IT costs in order to create balance.
- ITIL Release, Control & Validation – This text will examine the process needed to effectively launch a test IT project to a user base to ensure the service is implemented successfully in a controlled setting before a major re-launch. This process allows for greater control over issues, faster improvements and proves to be more cost-effective overall.
- ITIL Service Offerings & Agreements – This section provides direction in terms of the processes to follow while executing operational-level tasks related to service agreements and delivery.
Do you have to follow ITIL perfectly?
Absolutely not! If you have your own processes in place that work great for your organization or if you follow a formal set of standards you can use ITIL simply to supplement the gaps. ITSM can leverage a number of different tools and doesn’t need to follow any one of them perfectly, it just has to fit your organizational needs and your company’s and user base’s preferences. That being said, feel free to mix and match and if something isn’t working, by all means, change it!
The Axelos website (creators of ITIL) offers a number of white papers and case studies on how you can implement ITIL into your programs and how you can adapt it to fit your organization’s unique needs. Check out downloads related to mixing ITIL & Prince2, as well as adding Six Sigma and ITIL to your Continual Service Improvement methods – these should all give an idea of how flexible ITIL can be to fit your needs.