What is ITIL? Everything you Need to Know

What do you need to know about ITIL v3? We look at the differences between ITIL v3 and ITIL 4 and how adopting ITIL can enhance a business.

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These days, it goes without saying that the worlds of business and technology are inextricably linked. In order to stay competitive, a company needs to be able to evolve both its corporate objectives and digital & IT capabilities, no matter how painful or awkward this process may be.

Naturally, this kind of change cannot start with a blank canvas. The development of IT services should be driven by an awareness of current processes, demands, and management practices both within and outside an organization. Without this, IT Service Management (ITSM) will inevitably waste time, money and effort, giving competitors a chance to lure customers away with more efficient and targeted offerings.

The ‘Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL)’ is a set of ITSM practices utilized by some of the most high-profile organizations in the world, including HSBC, IBM and even NASA. Originally released as a series of books, ITIL was designed to standardize the procedures for good IT management, helping businesses to avoid the most common pitfalls in order to deliver the best quality services possible.

Split over several levels and modules, ITIL covers everything from service strategies to continuous improvement, enabling practitioners to not only adapt IT service infrastructures, but also increase agility to prepare for further changes down the line. This can help to foster sustainable productivity for businesses and create a better, more consistent experience for customers.

At the itSMF USA Fusion 2017 conference, AXELOS Global Best Practice finally announced ‘ITIL 4’, the latest iteration of the framework. This new industry and community-driven version would not only improve on existing ITIL processes but also acknowledge and overcome many of the most common hangups practitioners had with V3.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at what ITIL has to offer!

ITIL, formerly known as the ‘Information Technology Infrastructure Library’, is a set of best practices for creating and improving ITSM processes. It is designed to help businesses manage risks, strengthen customer relations, establish cost-effective practices and build stable IT environments for growth, scale and change. In short, an ITIL Practitioner is an expert in continually shaping IT service development processes.

The main strength of ITIL likes in its versatility. The practices are scalable and flexible, allowing organizations to take on as much or as little of them as they like. ITIL can even be adapted to work in conjunction with other practices, including COBIT, Six Sigma, Agile, and TOGAF.

An important thing to keep in mind is that ITIL is not built around a specific business model. Rather, it is based on the collective experience and insight of highly experienced IT professionals. It has been applied across multiple industries, helped mainly by the fact that virtually every industry in the world now relies on IT in one form or another.

So, what is ITIL? It is a series of processes for refining and improving an IT service lifecycle. It helps to boost the capabilities of organizations, processes and people, ensuring that when changes to technology or business practices leave them vulnerable, they can adapt quickly and stay on top of the competition.

How does ITIL work?

ITIL is not some kind of fully-automated software that will run your business for you - rather, it is a framework for managing IT services in a way that creates maximum value by supporting well-defined business goals.

The ITIL 4 framework takes a comprehensive approach that addresses a wide range of elements. This is thanks partly to AXELOS’ decades of experience as an ITSM certification provider. However, it was also down to the fact that ITIL 4, unlike previous versions, was developed with input from ITSM writers, practitioners, and reviewers. This gave AXELOS more of a ground-level awareness of how IT is continuing to evolve, as well as what flaws needed to be addressed in the ITIL v3 framework.

Despite the broadness of ITIL’s approach, the framework itself remains quite flexible. It is designed to be adapted to suit the requirements of individual organizations. For example, ITIL 4 can accommodate other popular methodologies and frameworks, such as Agile, DevOps, and Lean. Regardless of an organization’s size, structure, or current practices, ITIL 4 can both accommodate and enhance it.

So, ITIL ‘works’ by offering guidance across the spectrum of IT service management. This includes both actionable insight and relevant tools and processes.

For a better understanding of how ITIL actually operates, it is necessary to look at the individual modules of ITIL 4.

What do I need to know about the ITIL 4 modules?

An important thing to keep in mind is that the individual modules of ITIL can all be highly useful for a business. Each provides actionable insight, helping to establish a clear process for ITSM development.

Students will often start with the modules most relevant to them, as there is no set order for what parts of the certification scheme to move on to after passing the ITIL 4 Foundation exam.

ITIL 4 Foundation

ITIL 4 Foundation is the introductory module of the framework, providing students with a summary of AXELOS’ new approach to ITSM. For example, it goes over the end-to-end ‘Service Value System (SVS)’, as well as the frameworks which have been recently integrated with ITIL, such as Lean, Agile, and DevOps. The module also covers a number of key elements, including ITIL 4’s guiding principles, the four dimensions of service management, the SVS, ‘Service Value Chain’, and 7 ITIL practices.

Following ITIL Foundation certification, students can choose whether to focus on ‘Managing Professional’ or ‘Strategic Leader’.

ITIL Specialist: Create, Deliver and Support (CDS)

ITIL Specialist: Create, Deliver and Support looks at the core service management activities that make up the framework. Students learn how to integrate various activities and value streams to create, deliver, and support IT services and products. The module also looks at several practices, methods, and tools designed to optimize performance and enable continuous improvement.

Students will complete this module with a clear understanding of how to deliver technology-enabled results innovatively and reliably. This kind of consistently high quality is essential in today’s IT market, where the best competitors are constantly looking for ways to better meet client expectations and maximize the value of their work.

ITIL Specialist: Drive Stakeholder Value (DSV)

ITIL Specialist: Drive Stakeholder Value covers how service providers engage and interact with users, customers, suppliers, and other ‘stakeholders’. With an understanding of how this works, students will be better equipped to translate stakeholder demands into tangible actions that can increase the value of products and services.

Students learn to use a variety of tools and methods designed to maximize stakeholder satisfaction. The module also examines elements such as communication, multi-supplier management, relationship management, User Experience (UX) design, Customer Experience (CX) design, ‘Service Level Agreement (SLA)’ design, and customer journey mapping. ITIL practitioners can also use the module as a reference guide for future projects.

ITIL Specialist: High Velocity IT (HVIT)

ITIL Specialist: High Velocity IT focuses on the pressures that come with the environment of modern IT. Digital organizations and operating models must be built to contend with high-velocity markets, where being competitive means having to maximize your speed, responsiveness, agility, and cost-effectiveness as you strive to release high-quality products and services. Acknowledging and mastering this situation is essential if you want to optimize the value created by IT.

Students will look at valuable and widely-used working practices that can help them thrive, such as Agile and Lean. They will also look at useful technological practices, including automatic testing, automation, and the use of cloud software.

ITIL Strategist: Direct, Plan and Improve (DPI)

ITIL Strategist: Direct, Plan and Improve looks at how IT service managers can apply a strong strategic direction to their work, reassessing and improving their practices as they go in order to guarantee laser-guided focus.

Students also learn about the impact and influence of Lean and Agile ways of working and how these styles can be leveraged within the ITIL framework.

Finally, the module looks at practical methods for creating and implementing strategies centered around the continuous improvement of IT-enabled products and services. This is also another module that can be treated as a reference guide by successful practitioners.

ITIL Leader: Digital & IT Strategy (DITS)

ITIL Leader: Digital & IT Strategy focuses on the alignment of digital & IT strategies with business goals. These days, businesses and organizations in most industries and sectors find themselves continually impacted by new and disruptive technology. This module examines how the framework can be applied at a strategic level to help practitioners respond to changes rapidly and adapt in order to remain competitive.

This module is well suited to anyone interested in high level IT service management. Students learn about how to deal with disruptive technology in a way that not only creates quick wins but also establishes processes for future developments. Considering the continuously-rapid evolution of IT and technology in the modern world of business, having this capability is essential for remaining competitive.

ITIL Managing Professional (MP) Transition

With the announcement of ITIL 4, students and practitioners of ITIL V3 were eager to find out how necessary it would be to update their qualifications. While the insight offered by V3 is certainly still relevant, ITIL 4 is enough of a departure that v3 qualifications are not valid prerequisites for the new certification path. As such, practitioners who had invested serious time in ITIL V3 certification training were left feeling concerned over whether they would have to restart from scratch.

ITIL Managing Professional (MP) Transition is a module specifically designed to help practitioners get around this problem. Anyone who holds an ‘ITIL V3 Expert’ qualification (or a minimum of 17 credits) can take the ITIL MPT exam to immediately become an ITIL 4 Managing Professional. The qualification covers both ITIL Foundation and every module within the ‘Managing Professional’ stream, allowing successful students to also reach the rank of ITIL Strategic Leader with just one additional examination.

How can an ITIL Certification Help my Business?

Think about the digital services that you use on a daily basis. These were not developed in a vacuum; rather, they were built using an ongoing project management process that took into account not only the objectives of the service, but also the potential issues in developing, delivering and maintaining it. In short, there would have been a huge number of factors to consider.

Good IT Service Management is about knowing how to integrate these factors into your development process, and this is where ITIL comes in. It covers the entire development lifecycle, from identifying requirements from a business and IT perspective, to designing and creating the solution, to delivering and maintaining the service in a state of continual review and improvement.

Taking this strategy on board offers a number of advantages for businesses. Perhaps most notably, it can cut back on the amount of time and money that gets wasted throughout the service development lifecycle, while also raising the quality of the end-product. This, in turn, can provide a huge boost to customer satisfaction once a service or product is implemented, as well as the morale of staff working on it.

By investing in a training course and implementing ITIL you can expect to:

  • Better understand your customers so that you can deliver services which suit their needs. This will help you to build long-term relationships and improve your reputation

  • Learn how to establish a guide on how to predict and react to issues with your service, incorporating multiple factors such as user experience rather than simply focusing on IT development

  • Increase productivity and improve resource management by establishing cost-effective guidelines

  • Manage risks without disrupting or unintentionally sabotaging your service

  • Create a stable service development environment that supports ongoing change

  • Ensure greater alignment between IT and other arms of your business. This can be vital for enterprise architecture development

  • Improve your risk management process by predicting and reducing service disruptions and failures

  • Create networking opportunities and ease collaboration by incorporating ITIL’s terms and methodologies into your business

  • Raise the value of your service portfolio

  • Quickly adapt to changes in technology, compliance and so on in order to continue growing and maintain your competitive advantage

  • Raise the profile of your business with a globally recognized certification

An important thing to keep in mind is that the individual modules of ITIL can all be highly useful for a business. Each provides actionable insight, helping to establish a clear process for ITSM development.

You do not need to gain a full Master’s certification, though this is certainly a highly-regarded achievement. The certifications are gained gradually via Foundation, Practitioner and Intermediate modules which will qualify students to takes exams and move onto higher levels.

Is your company thinking about implementing the ITIL methodology? Are you building a business case for taking an ITIL Certification? Take a look at our helpful article - How to "Sell" ITIL to your Organization

What are the Differences Between ITIL V3 and ITIL 4?

In a nutshell, ITIL 4 is a refinement of V3 that aims to marry the framework more cleanly with modern ITSM. It is far more flexible, with a greater focus on customization and collaboration. It is also community-driven, with ITIL practitioners helping to update the framework by constantly factoring in new developments in the world of IT.

These are some of the most important updates delivered by ITIL 4:

  • Integration - ITIL 4 is designed to integrate with other popular ITSM methods and standards, such as Agile, Lean, and DevOps. ITIL practitioners had long been asking for this in the years of ITIL V3

  • Customers - Unlike ITIL V3, ITIL 4 treats customers as an essential part of creating and sustaining value. Customers have a key role to play in…

  • The Service Value System (SVS) - This describes how the various elements of an organization work together in order to create tangible value. In this equation, the most essential inputs are ‘Demand’ and ‘Opportunity’, while the output is the ‘Value’ created by IT-powered products and services. In between, the SVS is governed by Guiding Principles, Governance, the Service Value Chain (SVC), Practices, and Continual Improvement

  • Flexibility - The SVS is not a rigid system; rather, it acknowledges that the different elements that make it up can be combined in a variety of ways depending on the scenario at hand or the changing needs of the organization in control

  • Communication - The new framework encourages communication for the sake of eliminating siloed thinking. In order to get as much value as possible from the SVS, ITIL practitioners are encouraged to apply it across the entire organization in question

For a full breakdown of the updates to ITIL in version 4 including the new certification scheme, take a look at our article - ITIL 4 - Everything you Need to Know

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Why Gain an ITIL Certification with Good e-Learning?

Good e-Learning provides a variety of courses, all in line with the latest version of ITIL. Not only are the courses fully accredited by PeopleCert, but we are also recognized as a "Global Leader" in ITIL training from independant review company Course Conductor.

We are one of the only fully accredited online training providers of ITIL training from Foundation level right the way through to Expert. Take a look at our full list of ITIL training courses and start your career in IT Service Management today!

Good e-Learning offers the FULL range of ITIL courses:

Key features of our ITIL certification courses:

  • Accredited by PeopleCert

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  • Quizzes and revision modules

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Good e-Learning also specializes in corporate training for businesses looking to upskill multiple employees at once. We have already partnered with hundreds of global blue chips to design courses which take their uniqueness into account, including their location, size, business goals, corporate culture and, of course, budget.

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