The acronym ITIL stands for Information Technology Infrastructure Library and consists of a set of best practices related to IT Service Management (ITSM) in order to reach a greater alignment of this area with business needs.
It actually describes processes and tasks for a company to operationally succeed, in a non-specific way so that any enterprise can benefit of this regardless of its activity sector. The critical success factor related to ITIL is that it enables companies to set a baseline with which it can compare its actual performance in order to infer the compliance level and success.
The current version of ITIL (as of 2011, aligned with ISO 20000) is divided into five modules addressing the different ITSM stages – service strategy; service design; service transition; service operation and continual service improvement.
Regarding service strategy, it is the nerve center of ITIL since it provides guidance about service provider investments in IT, based on market trends in order to increase the success rates for the company in the long run. The key topics include market trends analysis by type of service provider, creation of service value proposition and business case.
The Service Design volume is all about best practices for the design process of IT services, processes and other aspects related to service management. It actually includes relevant information for technology service delivery, rather than just the design of technology. Service Design, hence, addresses the way a planned service fits within business and technical environments, the legacy systems required to support the service, the service related processes, the technology, the underpinned technical architecture and all the supply chain.
In ITIL logical structure, all the information about service design is aggregated in a service design package, while service design packages, along with other complementary information about services are managed through the service catalogues.
The Service Transition in ITIL relates to the delivery of the required services into operational use. It is frequently focused on the project side of IT and encompasses processes related to service delivery, such as configuration management, release management or change management.
After Service Transition there is the Service Operation volume, which includes a set of best practices and guidance to ensure the service is delivered with the agreed quality service levels. This process is the one within which the value is actually delivered to the client. Also, monitoring of service incidents and problems is critical to keep the quality standards of the service. The staff engaged in Service Operation can have different roles and responsibilities, such as technical management, application management, operations management and service desk.
Finally, Continual Service Improvement aims at keeping the right match between service and business needs, by granting the right changes are implemented on the service whenever there is a business modification. The improvement process follows the Deming Cycle (Plan-Do-Check-Act). So, in order to ensure the service improvement is actually effective, it is imperative to establish what has to be monitored in order to set a baseline against which the improvements are actually measured.