My own ITIL® journey began in the late 1990’s, when I was offered the chance to attend a one-day overview of Service Management with a colleague. My first thoughts I remember muttering to my colleague were ‘this is just common sense’. I haven’t changed my opinion since then. At the time, I was working in the Banking sector, having started my career in IT as a Trainee Computer Operator.
By this time, I had attained the dizzy heights of being a shift leader, one of four, managing a 24x7 operations environment, consisting of a total of 16 staff, and 2 additional operations analysts, before more promotion took me to Data Centre and Change Manager.
With a flavour of different operating platforms, and a myriad of applications to support, as well as the people management aspects, life was hectic (and sometimes stressful!).
This was the start of my journey into the world of Service Management.
The Origins Of ITIL®
Originally known as GITIM (Government Information Technology Infrastructure Management method), the origins of ITIL® can be dated back as far as the early 20th Century, when BTM (the British Tabulating company) signed an agreement with the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company (CTR) which was renamed "International Business Machines" (IBM) in 1924 to market punched card machines in Britain. This required the development of a set of operational procedures.
The agreement ended in 1949. In 1972, IBM researched what is now known as the ‘Information systems management architecture’ (ISMA). The research document was published in 1980, and went through more revisions in the early 1980’s.
In the late 1980’s IBM got into an aggressive bidding war with their competitor, ICL (International Computers Limited) to be the primary vendor of mainframe systems to Government agencies. During this time, staff within the Government attempted to develop an IBM-styled set of operational procedures.
The CCTA (Central computing and telecommunications agency – later known as the OGC – Office of Government Commerce) completed research which indicated that the requirements of the various businesses and organisations researched were mostly similar, regardless of their size or industry sector. This meant that the recommendations compiled by the CCTA were therefore valid for any type or size of organisation, making ITIL® a valid framework that could be adapted and adopted by all.
In 2010, the OGC became absorbed into the Cabinet Office.
Historically, IT organisations were typically focussed on software, hardware, and other technology, rather than being customer focussed.
CCTA finally authorised a program to develop a common set of operational guidance with the objective of increasing efficiencies in Government IT.
These guidelines were adopted by organisations and government agencies across Europe in the early 1990’s. As it grew in popularity, IT itself was evolving and so ITIL® also needed to.
In the year 2000, the CCTA merged into the OGC, and that same year Microsoft used ITIL® as the basis to develop MOF (Microsoft operations framework).
The first book was published in 1989 and GITIM changed its name to ITIL®. The first version of ITIL® discussed processes involved in service support such as help desk, change management and software distribution and control. It also covered topics such as capacity management, contingency planning, availability management, and cost management – all of which are still very relevant today.
Over the next 12 years, 30 volumes were published. They were developed on a volunteer as seen as important basis (i.e., when someone identified weaknesses and were willing to review and amend as appropriate). Along with the published books, the IT Infrastructure Management Forum was proposed, which we now know as the IT Service Management Forum (ITSMF).
The IT Service Management Forum (itSMF) is an independent, international, not-for-profit organisation of IT service management (ITSM) professionals worldwide. Around the operation of IT services the itSMF collects, develops and publishes best practices, supports education and training, discusses the development of ITSM tools, initiates advisory ideas about ITSM and holds conventions.
The itSMF is concerned with promoting ITIL®, best practices in IT service management and has a strong interest in the international ISO/IEC 20000 standard. The itSMF publishes books covering various aspects of service management through a process of endorsing them as part of the itSMF Library.
In terms of exam structures, at this point only a foundation qualification existed.
ITIL® V2 started life in 2001, and consisted of service support and service delivery, both of which had been redeveloped from V1 into more concise, usable volumes.
Over the following years, ITIL® V2 became the most widely used IT service management best practice approach in the world.
ITIL® V2 adopted a more process-based approach and cut down on the number of books published from 30 in volume 1, to 7 core titles in V2, making it more affordable and accessible for everyone.
Service Support covered such topics as Service Desk and Incident Management, Problem Management, Change Management, Release Management and Configuration Management.
Service Delivery covered such topics as Service Level Management, Availability Management, Capacity Management, IT Service Continuity Management and Financial Management.
As well as the foundation exam, a managers exam, which consisted of two 3-hour written papers, based on a case study, was also introduced, and alongside this the concept of lapel badges, the colours of which denoted the level of qualification achieved (red badge achieved for the ITIL® Manager being the most sought-after!)
Later in the life of V2, 10 processes-based practitioner courses, one for each of the process areas, were introduced. Along with a certificate, successful completion of these exams lead to the award of a blue lapel badge.
ITIL® V3 was introduced in 2007. The set of best practices were condensed into 5 core titles, and became less process-orientated, and much more a Service Lifecycle approach.
The 5 core titles were:
• Service Strategy
• Service Design
• Service Transition
• Service Operation
• Continual Service Improvement
Each of these lifecycle stages had associated processes and distinctive objectives that included handovers to the next lifecycle stage, ensuring that the stages were not silos, but more a collection of activities that interacted with and relied on each other. There was a much bigger drive in ITIL® V3 towards the creation of business value.
Functions were only referred to within service operation (service desk, technical management, and application management). The thinking here was that the technical and application management functions played a large role in day-to-day support (2nd/3rd line), but that they could also have input across the other Lifecycle stages.
As in V2, at a later stage specialist courses were also introduced, to add further knowledge to the subject matter.
The exam structure for ITIL® V3 consisted of the following:
Lifecycle Courses (3 Days)
• Service Strategy
• Service Design
• Service Transition
• Service Operation
• Continual Service Improvement
Capability Courses (5 Days)
• Release, Control, & Validation
• Service Offerings & Agreements
• Operational Support & Analysis
• Planning, Protection, & Optimisation
Both the lifecycle and capability modules culminated in a 1.5-hour complex, scenario-based multiple-choice paper, consisting of eight questions, each with four possible graded answers (5,3,1,0).
Capability courses cover the Roles and Technology & implementation Considerations in all the following modules: Release Control & Validation (RCV), Operational Support & Analysis (OSA), Service Offerings & Agreements (SOA), Planning, Protection & Optimisation (PPO)
Lifecycle courses cover the principles and processes in all the following phases Service Strategy (SS), Service Design (SD), Service Transition (ST), Service Operation (SO), Continual Service Improvement (CSI).
The ITIL® V3 qualification structure also introduced the concept of exam credits. Each level had an associated credit for passing the modules, as follows.
• Foundation – 2 credits
• Lifecycle – 3 credits
• Capability – 4 credits
After the prerequisite Foundation qualification, delegates could either undertake any or all the Capability and Lifecycle modules – or mix them, as desired.
Once 17 or more credits had been achieved, that allowed the delegate to undertake the 5-day ITIL® Managing Across The Lifecycle (MALC) module. The intent of the ITIL® Managing Across The Lifecycle (MALC) qualification is to give delegates the skills to support an organisation's service delivery by bridging the Service Lifecycle stages.
The qualification demonstrates that delegates have learned the value of one combined service management practice as opposed to separate subject areas.
ITIL® processes and practices, as learnt from the Lifecycle and Capability streams of the intermediate certificates, are put into a context of delivering this value.
The ITIL® Managing Across The Lifecycle (MALC) exam consists of multiple-choice questions with ten questions per paper and is a closed book exam. A candidate must receive a score of 35 out of 50 to pass (70%) and is of 2-hours duration.
Once this has been attained, the candidate is awarded the ITIL® Expert qualification status.
To achieve ITIL® Master certificate, you must be able to demonstrate that you have extensive practical hands-on experience with ITIL® and can demonstrate active involvement in implementation of the practices.
ITIL® V3 also went through a minor review in 2011, where some new processes were introduced, as well as responding to feedback from the user and training community.
No work was undertaken on ITIL® for some years after the last iteration in 2011 to V3. ITIL® 4 (no ‘V’ anymore, as ITIL® is aligned to the fourth industrial revolution!) was introduced in February 2019. There has been a realignment of ITIL® with other frameworks, such as Agile, DevOps, Lean and Scrum.
All the good things from ITIL® V3 are still here – but ITIL® 4 takes a different approach to the way it presents these things.
The Service Lifecycle approach that existed in ITIL® V3 has been dropped and replaced by practices, although many of these practices clearly correspond to ITIL® V3 processes. A practice is defined as a ‘set of organisational resources designed for performing work or accomplishing an objective’. A practice can be seen as having a mixture of people, processes, and tools – just like a dental practice. ITIL® V3 referred to 26 different processes. In ITIL® 4 there are 34 practices – 14 general management practices (adopted and adapted for service management from general business management domains), 17 service management practices (developed in service management and ITSM industries), and 3 technical management practices (adapted from technology management domains for service management purposes, by shifting their focus from technology solutions to IT services).
ITIL® 4 is not prescriptive regarding processes, and organisations looking for detailed process descriptions can either consult ITIL® V3 or visit the AXELOS website (AXELOS being the joint venture between the British Government and Capita). There is a fee to access the information, although this is waved for the first year if you pass either the foundation or the managing professional V3 to ITIL® 4 transition course. Once the site is accessed, visit MY ITIL® for detailed information on all 34 practices.
ITIL® 4 embraces the latest trends in technologies and service management and provides a flexible basis to support organisations as they undergo digital transformations and integrate digital technology into all areas of their business.
ITIL® 4 consists of two key concepts:
1. The Four Dimensions Model (loosely aligned to the V3 for Ps of service design, people, process, products, partners).
2. The Service Value system. An organisational model that represents ‘how all the components and activities of an organisation work together to facilitate value creation’.
The four dimensions need to be thought of holistically. Failure to consider every dimension as each opportunity presents itself can lead to services being unsupported or undeliverable. The four dimensions can be considered as the four major areas to consider in the design of effective service management (they are NOT a set of sequential steps!).
The service value system has 5 components:
1. Guiding Principles
3. Service Value Chain (An Operating Model)
5. Continual Improvement (Including the continual improvement model (previously known as the CSI approach in ITIL® V3)
The guiding principles are recommendations that guide organisations in all circumstances, regardless of changes in its goals, strategies, type of work, or management structure. A guiding principle is universal and enduring.
The service value chain is, as mentioned above, an operating model. It has six activities which form the ‘building blocks’ to allow value streams to be created, in conjunction with practices. It should be noted that practices are not associated with a particular value chain activity but can interact with any value chain activity.
The Service Value Chain steps are:
4. Design & Transition
5. Obtain / Build
6. Deliver & Support
A value stream is described as a specific combination of activities and practices, each one being designed for a particular scenario (e.g., dealing with an Incident). The value stream will be designed to resolve the issue, and will provide a complete guide to the activities, practices and roles involved. Value-stream mapping, also known as "material- and information-flow mapping", is a lean-management method for analysing the current state and designing a future state for the series of events that take a product or service from the beginning of the specific process until it reaches the customer. A value stream map is a visual tool that displays all critical steps in a specific process and easily quantifies the time and volume taken at each stage.
The ITIL® 4 framework includes two qualification streams:
Each can be achieved by passing the following specialist courses:
Managing Professional can also be achieved by holders of ITIL® V3 Expert, or those who have sufficient credits (17 or more). Those individuals can then take the MPT Bridge course, the successful completion of the exam according them with ITIL® 4 Managing Professional status.
There is a further course, having attained both the managing professional & strategic streams, known as ‘ITIL® Master’. The exact nature and content of this course is not known at the present time.
Other benefits of ITIL® 4 include:
• ITIL® 4 introduces the concept of the Service Value System (SVS). This fits in with a key requirement in the 2018 edition of ISO 20000 for organisations to ‘establish, implement, maintain and continually improve’ a service management system.
• Within the ITIL® 4 specialist course high velocity IT, the concept of service-dominant logic is described. Service-dominant logic is a mental model of an economic exchange in which organisations co-create value by applying their competencies and other resources for the benefit of each other.
• Also, within this specialist High Velocity IT course we have the concept of design thinking, a practical and human-centred approach used by product and service designers to solve complex problems and find practical and creative solutions that meet the needs of an organisation and its customers.
ITIL® 4 has also seen what a major shift in emphasis, from being very much geared to IT service management, the introduction of the guiding principles means that the framework is relevant to any type of service management organisation, and not just those that are IT-focussed.
The drive towards a customer-centric approach and value co-creation is very evident in ITIL® 4. In the previous versions, value was always seen from the perspective of the customer. ITIL® 4 considers the fact that to achieve value, many different stakeholders need to be considered – think of a car being built – each supplier of the components the car requires wants something back to show for their efforts in supplying a component/components.
The Future Of ITIL®
ITIL® has always been and will always remain an evolving set of best practices. As with any framework, it has strengths and weaknesses.
With the drive to move away from ‘IT’ service management to just service management, the Information technology infrastructure library has simply become known as ITIL®.
Focussing on the value co-creation (value for every stakeholder involved in the service value chain) ensures not only that service are aligned to customer requirements now, but in the future as well, each and every service being regularly re-evaluated to ensure it’s still viable.
Instead of trying to describe one ‘true’ method to follow for the adoption of ITIL®, the core universal principles will be supported by additional context-based materials where organisations of all shapes and sizes, from all countries, will find useful guidance on how to make changes happen. ITIL® has been about for many years and will continue to evolve as our world evolves over time.