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What is ITIL?

What is ITIL?

ITIL stands for the Information Technology Infrastructure Library. Staff in IT departments use ITIL to better serve their customers and users. But what is ITIL?

By using the guidelines set out in the ITIL framework, IT departments can develop best practices and improve the way different teams interact and manage the IT infrastructure within their business. In doing so, end users get a better level of service and the business saves money. Teams are also able to allocate resources more intelligently and efficiently by using ITIL.

 

ITIL isn’t just about the IT service desk or help desk: it encompasses all kinds of different areas, from designing the infrastructure of an IT department, right through to dealing with problems and improving the service.

In real terms: what is ITIL in practice? Let’s take a very basic look at what ITIL covers by breaking it down.

 

What is an ITIL Process?

A Process is essentially a type of work that’s typically carried out by an IT department.

In ITIL v3 (released in 2011), there are five different Processes:

  • Service Strategy – Assessing the current situation, and the customer needs, and forming a strategy to align the IT department with the core business.
  • Service Design – Planning and designing the services provided by IT that support the business.
  • Service Transition – Assuring the smooth transition of new and revised services from a development phase into an operational phase.  This includes, among other elements, Change Management.
  • Service Operation – Managing operations to ensure that services are delivered within the agreed service levels.  This includes, among other elements, Problem Management, Incident Management, and Access Management.
  • Continual Service Improvement – The process identifying opportunities to continually improve services, and implementing those improvements with the goal of constantly providing better service to the business and customers.

These five Processes represent different parts of the IT department. For example, Service Design would cover improvements to existing IT services or the implementation of new services. Service Operation covers the day-to-day management of the IT department – typically, this is the job of the service desk or help desk.

ITIL produces an ITIL Process Map that describes how different Processes fit together. The person in charge of a Process is called a Process Owner.

What is an ITIL Function?

 Typically, an ITIL Function is a group of people. It could be a team, a sub-team or a department. The Function is responsible for carrying out the work described in the ITIL process.

Examples of Functions in ITIL include software testers and programmers. However, in the overall ITIL process, many other teams can be included: for example, facilities management teams are Functions too. Within Functions, staff are assigned specific Roles; within Service Operation, for example, you’ll find roles such as 1st Level Support, Facilities Manager and IT Operations Manager. These are all people you’d expect to find working on, or alongside, a help desk or service desk team.

What is a KPI?

ITIL uses KPIs (key performance indicators) to measure the IT department’s performance. KPIs are generally used to monitor progress, flag up bottlenecks and problems in the IT department, and continually improve service.

KPIs can be considered an input and an output. KPIs are measured, evaluated and used in Continual Service Improvement. KPIs are also helpful within a help desk in order to track response times, ticket resolution rates and other important statistics.

Summing up

It’s impossible to cover ITIL in a short blog post, but if you want to learn more, remember that ITIL is a framework. It isn’t a fixed rule book.

The idea of ITIL is that it’s a structure different organizations can apply to their own individual circumstances. That makes ITIL very flexible, scalable and versatile, since almost any IT department can implement its principles.

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