An Introduction to ITIL

1.     Overview

This is our way of evangelising ITIL.  We firmly believe in the set of best practices and the framework that ITIL offers to design, develop, deliver and improve IT services that are focussed towards providing value to consuming customers and businesses.

We see many enterprises continue to struggle and falter in providing IT services that are meaningful and truly a value-add.  We feel that, in order to really embrace and drive value through the core essence of ITIL, conventional enterprises need to make a shift from the paradigm of delineated products and services and understand that products, resources, and supporting services are nothing but a means to provide customer-facing services.

In this series of posts, we will attempt to simplify and demystify the ITIL frameworks as we work through its five stages of Strategy, Design, Transition, Operations and Continual Improvement.

2.     ITIL Introduction

2.1            ITIL Structure

There are five stages of services life-cycle.  These are called the ITIL core stages

  1. Strategy – Service Charter, From start to service design
  2. Design – Designing specifications, design process
  3. Transition – Build everything needed to enable services.  Transition the team retains responsibility until service is stable and then transition to operations
  4. Operations
  5. Continual improvement – Wrapped around on the outside of the cycle

2.2            History

  • Started in the 80’s in the UK
  • In 2007 went through a major refresh to V3
  • V3,2011 has some minor changes
  • It is a framework of best practices
  • It is associated with  ISO/IEC 2000
  • Best Practices are proven activities or processes that have been successfully used by multiple organizations
  • Focus of ITIL is to figuring out what is the least amount of effort that you have to put in to do what you need to do

2.3            Sources of Best Practice

  1. Sources of information
    1. Standards
    2. Academic research
    3. Training and education
    4. Industry experience
  2. Collect information using Enablers
    1. Employees
    2. Customers
    3. Suppliers
    4. Advisers
  3. Filter information through Drivers
    1. Substitutes
    2. Regulators
    3. Customer
  4. Further filter information that fits Scenarios
    1. Competition
    2. Compliance
    3. Commitments

The result is best practices that an organization can apply to obtain their desired business goals and objectives.

2.4            ITIL Focus

A list to ensure that ITIL is working:

  1. Optimize and reduce costs. Track cost and associate them with business activities that are prioritized.  Example: Life and death is more important than record keeping
  2. Deliver value for customers through services
  3. Integrate service into business strategy
  4. Improve relationship with customers
  5. Change organization culture from technology focused to service focussed
  6. Monitor measure and optimize service provider performance
  7. Manage IT investment budget
  8. Manage Risk
  9. Manage Knowledge

2.5            What Is a Service

2.5.1       Service

Service is a means of delivering value to customers by facilitating outcomes customers want to achieve without the ownership of specific costs and risks related to delivery of these services.

2.5.2       Outcome

Outcome is the result of carrying out an activity, following a process or delivering an IT service.  Outcome can be intended results as well as actual results.

2.5.3       IT Service

IT service is a service provided by an IT service provider that is made up of a combination of Information Technology, People and Processes.

2.6            Types of Services

Services can be separated into two categories of customer-facing services and supporting services

2.6.1       Customer-facing Services

Services that are visible to the customer.  These are normally services that support a customer’s business process and facilitate one or more outcomes desired by the customer.

2.6.2       Supporting Services

IT services that support or underpin the customer-facing services.  These are typically invisible to the customer but are essential to the delivery of the customer-facing services.

Every time we offer a customer facing service you have to provide it with an internal supporting service such as: application development, application support, application operations.

Customer-facing service can be broken down into Service Level Packages that include core and enhanced services.

2.6.3       Core Services

Core Services are services that deliver the basic outcomes desired by one or more customers.

Core services anchor the value proposition for the customers and provide the basis for their continued utilization and satisfaction as they represent the value that the customers want and for which they are willing to pay.

2.6.4       Enhancing Services

Enhancing services are services that are added to a core service to make it more exciting or alluring to the customer.

They are not essential to the delivery of a core service, and are added to a core service as ‘excitement’ factors, which will encourage customers to use the core service more.

2.7            The Value of a Service

A combination of utility and warranty creates value for a customer.


  • Functionality offered by a service to meet a particular need or achieve a particular outcome
  • Utility has a positive effect and could be:
  1. Outcome supported or
  2. Constraints removed
  • To make the services fit for purpose

2.7.1       Warranty

Assurance that the service will meet its agreed requirements.

A service has to be:

  1. Available enough and
  2. Have enough Capacity and
  3. Have Business Continuity and
  4. Be Secure enough

To create value for the customer a service has to be both:

  1. Fit for Purpose and
  2. Fit for use

Value for a customer can be tangible or intangible

A service is typically intangible.  Its value is determined by what it enables a user to be able to do and how well it enables the customer to achieve the desired outcome.

IT services provide value to customers that are internal or external to an organization.

2.8            IT Services Management

2.8.1       Perspectives of IT

  • IT is a collection of systems and/or applications and/or infrastructure.  They enable or are embedded in processes or services
  • Every IT organization should be a service provider
  • Use principles of services management to develop and improve their ability to meet the needs of their customers

2.8.2       Services Management

A set specialized organizational capabilities to provide value to customers in the form of services.  The more mature the capabilities the greater the ability to consistently product quality service that is timely and cost effective.

2.8.3       ITSM (IT Services management)

The implementation and management of quality IT services that meet the needs of a business.  It services performed through the mix of people, process and technology.

2.8.4       Challenges of ITSM

Organization capabilities are developed to overcome challenges.  Some of the challenges include:

  • Services are intangible and difficult to measure
  • Demand of services is tightly coupled with customer’s assets including users, processes etc.
  • There is little is little to no buffer between service provider creation of service to customer consumption of service
  • Services output is perishable

2.9            Types of Service Providers

2.9.1       Service Provider

An organization that supplies services to one or more internal or external customers.

2.9.2       IT Service Provider

An organization that supplies IT services to one or more internal or external customers.

Most aspects of ITSM apply to all service providers

Some aspects depend upon

  • What customers the serve
  • How they are funded
  • Who their competition is

There are three types of service providers:

2.9.3       Types of Service Providers

Type 1: Internal

  • Embedded within a business unit.

Type 2: Shared Services Unit

  • One IT shared across multiple business units.  Supports common applications like email, phone etc.

Type 3: External Service Provider

  • Provide IT services to external customers. Example: ISP, cellphone company, SAAS etc.
  • Difference between a provider and a supplier
  • Supplier is an external service provider form the perspective of the customer organization

2.10       Stakeholders in Services Management

Stakeholders include:

  • Services Providers
  • Customers
  • Those who buy goods and services.  Define and agree on service level targets.  Sometimes could mean users
    • Internal Customers – Within the business unit
    • External Customers – Outside if IT services business  unit
    • Users – Use the services on a day-to-day base
  • Suppliers – Third party suppliers of goods or services

2.11       Process Model

  1. Every process needs to have some governance and control
  2. Process enablers include tangible and intangible assets (resources and capabilities)
  3. The Process itself and the activities it performs – include procedures (step wise) and work instructions on how to execute procedures with the tool we are using.  Also have measureable metrics
  4. Each process will be initiated by a trigger or specific event
  5. Each process will deliver results as specific outputs that deliver value to customers and stakeholders.

Characteristics of a process include: TMRV

  • Responsiveness to specific Triggers
  • Measurable
  • Deliver specific Results
  • Deliver value to customers and stakeholders

Examples: project management process, change management process, incident management process

2.12       Design and Delivery of Services

Services designed and delivered through

  • Assets
    • Tangible Resources – People, HW, SW
    • Intangible Capabilities – Skills, knowledge, experience
    • Processes
      • Maturity of process.  Example: Change management, Incident management etc.
      • Functions defined within the service delivery organization
      • Roles and responsibilities assigned to people

2.12.1  Customer Assets

Any resources or capabilities used by the customer to achieve business objectives

2.12.2  Service Assets

Any resources or capabilities used by the service provider to deliver services to a customer

Customer can use IT service provided and turn them into assets to build and deliver IT services to their own customers.  Therefore the performance of customer assets it a primary part of TISM.

2.13       Processes

A structure set of activities designed to accomplish a specific objective.  Takes one or more input  and turn them to defined outputs.  Include roles, responsibilities, tools and management controls.  Define policies, standards, guidelines

2.14       Functions

A team or group of people and the tools or other resources they use to carry out one or more processes or activities

Within the ITIL framework all functions responsible for delivering and consuming services can fall into only the following categories:

  1. IT Services
    1. Service Desk (Level 1)
    2. IT Operations (Level 1 or 2)
    3. i. Operations Control
    4. ii. Facilities Management
  1. Technical Management (Level 2 or 3)
  2. Application Management (Level 2 or 3)
  3. Customer
    1. Customer
    2. User
    3. Supplier

Note: Against ITIL V3 recommendations a supplementary function of ITSM is now also being created within organizations to account for executive management separately.

2.14.1  Service Desk

A single point of contact for users when there is a service disruption, a service request, or even a request for change.  It provides a point of communication for users and a point of coordination for IT services.

2.14.2  Technical Management

Provides technical skills and resources needed for operations and management for IT infrastructure.  It plays an important role in design, testing and release activities.

2.14.3  IT Operations

Executed the daily operations activities to manage IT services and support IT infrastructure.  This is done to standards and processes designed during service design.  It has two sub functions including operations control and facilities management.

2.14.4  Application Management

Responsible for managing applications throughout their lifecycle.  Supports the applications and plays an important role in resign, testing and release activities and improvement of applications.

2.15       Roles and Responsibilities

Process Roles

  • Process Owner
  • Process Manager
  • Process Practitioner

Services Roles

  • Service Owner

2.15.1  Role

A set of responsibilities, activities and authorities assigned to a person or team.  A role can be defined in a process or a function.  One person or team can have multiple roles.

Role is not the same as a job description

2.15.2  Process Owner

Accountable for ensure that the process is fit for person.  Own the complete life cycle of the process from sponsorship, design, change management and CSI.  The role can be assigned to Process Manager.

2.15.3  Process Manager

Operational management of a process.  Carry out, monitor and report on a process

2.15.4  CSI Manager

Improvement of processes.  Works with Process Owners and Process Managers to identify opportunities to improve.

2.15.5  Service Owner

A role responsible for managing one or more services through their lifecycle.  Instrumental in development of strategy and responsible for content and service portfolio.

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