Taking the "IT" out of ITIL - using the framework to support business services

Craig Reid

I've worked with the ITIL framework for 12 years now and have watched with interest the changes that have occurred from version 1 to (the current) version 3.

For those of you who don't know what ITIL is, it was designed initially as framework to support IT Infrastructure with a series of best practice processes. Over the years it has evolved to be something much more than that.

Traditionally ITIL is still used extensively within IT departments – Incident Management, for example is the cornerstone of most Service Desks these days. For those of you still stuck in the 20th century, that's what you call the "IT Helpdesk".

But version 3 of ITIL has two important elements that make it much more than a framework for IT Nerds:

  • Service Management - rather than being just a set of processes as it was in previous versions, ITIL v3 embraces a services management approach.

This involves looking at business services and using ITIL's service management lifecycle to support those services.

  • Continuous Improvement - ITIL's service management lifecycle concept embraces four key phases (Strategy, Design, Transition & Operations) which feed into a cycle of continuous improvement.

What does this mean? Well, we now have a framework that manages the entire lifecycle of a service and which embraces continuous improvement. So why should we restrict ITIL to simply supporting IT? The answer is, we don't have to...

If we strip the IT terminology out of ITIL we can use the framework as a means of supporting ANY business service. It helps us to firstly define the strategy of the organisation, the business services to support that strategy and provides the means to support those business services via a set of processes – all wrapped up in a cycle of continuous improvement. Incident Management? Use it in a call centre! Capacity Management - use it for a warehouse! Think outside the IT square and many applicable uses spring up.

So when you think about how to manage your strategy, your business services and the processes required to support them - remember that you can take the IT out of ITIL to provide you with a great starting point.


First published on www.theprocessninja.com. Reprinted with permission.