What is ITIL?

Many years ago, running an IT helpdesk was relatively simple. As corporate demands on the IT department grew and all corporate departments became increasingly dependent on technology tools, meeting customer’s needs became more challenging. My IT Helpdesk teammates and I strove to provide the best customer service. But our service delivery needed improvement and our reputation became battered.  


To meet that heightened level of customer-service, we analysed our environment and we applied best practices and standardized work methods. We also insisted on such rigour from our suppliers.  We became more efficient & organized, our reputation improved dramatically and we were more analytical when problems arose (RCA anyone?).


Years later when I first starting reading about ITIL, I understood that the core of ITIL was best practices.  Accountability, call ownership and SPOC, were not magic, but common-sense, that someone had written down!


How did ITIL become widely known?  Ever heard or Enron or Worldcom? These were companies at the root of US financial and accounting scandals in the early 2000s, which brought about new US-based laws - Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX), requiring regular financial and IT audits for publicly traded companies. Companies turned to ITIL (and other frameworks) to apply sound IT-controls (best-practices). That is when the term SOX-compliant or ITIL-compliant became popular (mostly in the US). Applications like ServiceNow are inherently ITIL-compliant.


So, what is ITIL? Here is a ServiceNow description: 


It (ITIL) … provides efficient communication between the user community and the IT provider. ITIL is about adopting and adapting, not the blanket application of one fixed set of activities.


ITIL v.4 has methodologies that are focused on the automation of processes, the improvement of collaboration and communication across the whole organisation and the integration and expansion of service management beyond IT (like HR, finance, customer support, etc.).


Ultimately, organisations should start with ITIL practices that will make the biggest difference to IT, business operations, and outcomes. In the past, incident, change, and problem management were the most commonly adopted ITIL practices.



ITIL has evolved from its ITSM roots to a focus on service management across the business (ITIL v4).

There are many sites to learn about this, but I suggest you go to the source – Axelos – home of ITIL. 



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