The most widely accepted definitions and descriptions of Information Technology (IT) best practices are to be found in the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL). ITIL is considered by most professionals to be the best approach to Information Technology Service Management (ITSM).
Having this library provides a lexicon shared by adherent professionals, enabling them to interoperate as needed in any environment, enabling successful collaboration.
The stated purpose in constructing and making available this extraordinary body of work is to “help individuals and organizations use IT to realize business change, transformation, and growth.”
Quick History of ITIL
According to Axelos, the publishers of ITIL, the library was originally developed in the 1980’s as a series of several books, each of which described a process.
Used mainly by British government agencies, the second version, introduced around Y2K, became the definitive guided for service management with two core publications covering ten processes and service desk operations.
The third version emerged in two editions, one in 2007 and the other in 2011, covering twenty-six processes. These contained great progress in the definition of best practices supported by four organizational functions, along with cost streamlining. This version aligned with ISO 20000 standards. “ITIL Practitioner”, which introduced guiding principles to facilitate ITIL adoption, was published in 2016.
Just this year, 2019, ITIL 4 was launched in a modular format along with a Foundation book providing key framework concepts. Informed by decades of customer experience, value streams, and the current trend toward Digital Transformation, Version 4 has evolved by re-shaping much of the IT Service Management (ITSM) practices, incorporating thirty-four practices focusing on general management practices, service management practices, and technical management practices. This version embraces emerging new ways to work such as Lean, Agile, and DevOps.
Beyond its role in providing a common framework and lexicon for IT services, the latest volume focuses on the creation of value for customers and the DevOps concept of continuous improvement. ITIL 4 elevates processes into practices by organizing four key dimensions of providing effective services:
- Organizations and people
- Information and technology
- Partners and suppliers
- Value streams and processes
This creates iterative processes that continual improvement, elevating service rendering from a logistic, operational level to a fully strategic level ensuring the production of value that meets and exceeds stakeholder expectations.
ITIL is meant to provide universal recommendations on how to work, supporting decisions and actions that assure the shared understanding and common approach to service management that makes organizations most effective. It breaks down silos while developing the organizational agility and resilience needed to respond to the constantly changing internal and external requirements we all face.
With the advance of technology changing faster and faster, ITIL 4 must be able to respond quickly and adapt flexibly to changing requirements so that servicing organizations can take full advantage of our digital revolution’s best opportunities such as the ever-increasing big data challenge, the advent of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and cognitive technologies, robotics, and the ever-expanding Internet of Things.
Impact on Companies and their Employees
Anything that stabilizes best practices, reduces costs while enhancing service levels, and provides a foundation for excellent performance is obviously of great value to any organization. This, in part, is why ITIL has earned its place as the single authority in IT practices. This is also why so many organizations list ITIL knowledge and experience as required for new hires in technology-related roles.
ITIL expertise is not technical experience. It is service management, logistical, operational in nature. Technology professionals depend upon ITIL-enabled management to assure them the support they need to deliver extraordinary service. Customers do, as well.