ITIL is a framework of best practices to deliver quality IT services. ITIL’s systematic approach to IT service management helps businesses manage and mitigate risk, improve customer relations, establish cost-effective practices, and stabilize the IT environment for better growth, scale and change.

The story of ITIL

Developed by the British government's Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency (CCTA) during the 1980s, the ITIL initially consisted of over 30 books describing the best practices in information technology accumulated from many sources. ITIL's credibility and utility increased over the years, and in 2005 its practices contributed to and associated with the ISO/IEC 20000 Service Management standard - the first international standard for IT service management.

Since 2013, ITIL is owned by Axelos — a joint venture between the Cabinet Office and Capita. Axelos allows businesses the license to use the ITIL framework while managing ITIL process changes and updates. 

Several revisions have been made to the ITIL – In 2000, the original 30 books of the ITIL were first condensed to seven books, and later consolidated to five volumes consisting of 26 ITIL processes and functions. In 2011, another update — dubbed ITIL 2011 — was published under the Cabinet Office. ITIL 4, which was released in 2019, focuses on automating ITIL processes, refining service management and incorporating the IT department into the business. It accommodates and answers modern technology, tools and software. With ITIL processes and framework, the IT department has grown to become fundamental to every business, helping them to be more agile, collaborative and flexible.

ITIL consists of nine guiding principles for organizational change management, communication and measurement & metrics. These principles include:

ITIL processes boost collaboration between IT and other departments, particularly as other business units progressively rely on technology to accomplish tasks. ITIL also accentuates customer feedback, since it’s easier than ever for businesses to comprehend their public perception, satisfaction and dissatisfaction.

Adopt the right ITIL Process

Poorly defined IT processes have often created a rift between traditional IT organizations and its leaders. However, there is no universal approach or one perfect solution to define and implement IT service management processes. Businesses need to evaluate business goals and budgets, resource constraints, and organizational culture to determine the right processes that are most practical to adopt.

ITIL guidelines and implementing ITIL processes that suit the business needs enables a bridge between business and technology. ITIL comprises of five basic publications with best practices for each phase of the IT service lifecycle:
1. ITIL Service Strategy—outlines business goals and customer requirements
2. ITIL Service Design—transitioning strategies into action items to help the business
3. ITIL Service Transition—implementing services within the business environment
4. ITIL Service Operation—defines key processes connected to IT service management
5. ITIL Continual Service Improvement—helps ITIL users evaluate and bring in IT service improvements
The most commonly implemented ITIL processes are Incident, Problem, Change, and Configuration Management.


Here’s a table that better explains the sub-categories of the five broader components, categorizing them as either an ITIL process or as an ITIL function.

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ITIL Service Lifecycle and ITIL Process

ITIL Process Core Component: Service Strategy

The purpose of the Service Strategy is to devise a strategy for the service lifecycle and offer governance control. The strategy should be in line with the business objectives as well as managed services. 

The warranty and utility of this component are designed to ensure that the service is deemed fit for purpose and fit for use, respectively. Ensuring this in the ITIL Process is important because these two components add value in the delivery of customer services.

ITIL Process Core Component: Service Design

This ITIL process phase is about the design of services and all supporting elements for introducing them into a live environment.
The ‘Four Ps of Service Design’ represents the areas to be considered when designing a service. They are:

ITIL Process Core Component: Service Design

The Service Transition process helps build and deploy IT services by ensuring that changes to services and Service Management processes are implemented with coordination.

In this ITIL process phase, the design is built, tested and moved into production to enable businesses to achieve the desired value. This ITIL process phase addresses ways to manage changes: controlling the assets and configuration items (assets here are the underlying components - hardware, software, etc.) linked to the new and changed systems, service validation, testing and transition planning to ensure that users, support teams and the production environment remain prepared.

ITIL Process Core Component: Service Operation

Event Management

In this ITIL Process phase, the CIs and services are consistently monitored; Events are filtered and categorized in order to make decisions on appropriate actions.

Incident Management

In this ITIL Process phase, the lifecycle of all Incidents that occur are taken care of. The core objective of Incident Management is to return the IT service to users as fast as possible.

Request Fulfillment

This ITIL process phase is in place to take care of Service Requests. In most cases, the Service Requests may be minor Changes like requests to change a password or requests for information.

Access Management

This ITIL process phase grants authorized users the right to use a service while preventing access to illegal or unauthorized users. The Access Management processes basically execute policies that are outlined in Information Security Management. This ITIL process phase is also referred to as Rights Management or Identity Management.

Problem Management

This ITIL process objective is to manage the lifecycle of all Problems. The basic objectives of Problem Management are 1) to prevent Incidents from happening and, 2) curtail the impact of incidents that cannot be prevented. Proactive Problem Management helps businesses to analyze Incident Records. This ITIL Process uses data collected by other IT Service Management processes to pinpoint trends or significant issues.

IT Operations Control

This ITIL process phase enables the monitoring and controlling of the IT services and their underlying infrastructure. The process objective of IT Operations Control is to accomplish everyday routine tasks related to the operation of infrastructure components and applications. This ITIL process also includes job scheduling, backup and restore events, print and output management, and routine maintenance.

Application Management

The objective of Application Management is to manage applications throughout their lifecycle.

Technical Management

Technical Management offers technical expertise and support for IT infrastructure management. This ITIL process phase ensures that IT services are delivered successfully and efficiently. The Service Operation process includes the fulfillment of user requests, resolving service failures, finding solutions for problems, as well as executing routine operational tasks.

Service operation delivers the service on a continuous basis, supervising the daily general health of the service. This includes managing disruptions to the service through quick restoration after incidents; defining the root cause of problems and identifying trends related to the recurring issues; accomplishing daily routine end-user requests, and managing service access.

ITIL Core Component: Continual Service Improvement (CSI)

The objective of this ITIL process phase is to implement methods from quality management to study from past failures and successes. The Continual Service Improvement process aims to constantly improve the efficiency and effectiveness of IT processes and services in tandem with the concept of continual improvement adopted in ISO 2000.

CSI enables IT organizations to measure and improve service levels, technology, and the efficiency and effectiveness of processes that are used in the all-inclusive management of services.

Benefits of ITIL 

There are many overheads associated with IT investments. Many leaders and C-Level executives express frustration as their teams attempt to end the chaos with limited guidance and direction. ITIL is globally the most widely accepted approach to manage and deliver IT services.

IT departments and staff in many organizations are unable to accomplish tasks on a timely basis, due to unscheduled work, at all times, taking priority over work that is prearranged. ITIL can help an organization end this continuous cycle giving a clear focus to the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) and other associated activities in their department.

Successfully adopting ITIL with IT Service Management (ITSM) helps deliver the following:

Implementing ITIL Processes or ITIL Framework

Any ITIL process or ITIL framework is diverse and includes many aspects of IT. Rather than introducing the full set of ITIL recommendations together, it is important for an organization to identify what needs to be addressed effectively and begin there. 

ITIL provides guidance that can be revised to suit the needs of a particular organization – not as a prescriptive book of rules. Here are three common approaches for organizations implementing ITIL:

Using ITIL with other Frameworks

Businesses and organizations often leverage ITIL and other frameworks together to support their holistic needs. Each framework has its own scope and approach that is unique, which can help address an organization’s unique challenges. Here are some of the common frameworks implemented alongside ITIL:

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