What Is An ITIL Framework? (With Definition And Stages)

Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 13 October 2022

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Organisations require aligning their IT strategies with business strategies to improve service management and provide value to customers. Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) is a framework that enables them to accomplish their business goals through the effective and efficient use of IT services. If you want to work as an ITIL practitioner or in a related role, learning about this framework can help you understand how organisations utilise it to meet their short- and long-term goals.

In this article, we discuss what an ITIL framework is, highlight its importance, list its various stages, share how to implement it in an organisation and provide some limitations of using it.

What Is The ITIL Framework?

ITIL framework is a set of processes and best practices for delivering quality IT services. When organisations use this structured approach to deliver services, they can reduce operational costs, manage risks, improve customer relations and increase business productivity. Implementing this framework in an organisation also ensures the alignment of IT services with changing business demands. The four dimensions of the framework are:

  • People: It is essential for the people of an organisation to be well-trained to provide quality IT services.

  • Products: These refer to the technology management systems used in delivering IT services.

  • Partners: The framework includes all third-party vendors and partners involved in providing quality services to customers.

  • Processes: This includes all roles, tools and administrative controls required to deliver quality IT services that align with a customer's expectations.

Related: 44 ITIL Interview Questions With Sample Answers

Importance Of ITIL

Here are some reasons ITIL is important for companies:

  • Increased efficiency: ITIL helps organisations optimise their processes by defining a set of guidelines and best practices. This results in increased efficiency and effectiveness of services delivered.

  • Improved customer satisfaction: With better communication and coordination between the IT department and the business, organisations can improve their customer services and enhance user experience.

  • Better risk management: With the better alignment of IT and business, organisations can improve their incident management systems and reduce service disruptions.

  • Improved employee productivity: With quicker recovery from service disruptions and efficient incident management systems, employees can focus on their deliverables.

  • Increased visibility: This framework enables organisations to understand their spending and utilisation of resources better. It helps them optimise their resources wherever possible and reduce operational costs.

Related: What Is IT Management? (Components, Benefits And Skills)

5 Stages Of The ITIL Service Lifecycle

Here are five stages of the ITIL service lifecycle:

1. Service Strategy

The Service Strategy stage is a market-driven approach that helps an organisation determine the services to offer to customers and the markets to target. This stage is beneficial because it helps organisations:

  • Ensure that the services they deliver align with the service strategy's objectives and best practices

  • Focus on expenditure and other activities, such as bookkeeping, accounting and invoicing

  • Define, develop, implement and monitor their strategies

  • Assess the current demand for IT services and ensure the optimisation of processes to meet growing customer needs

  • Understand customer requirements and enable services to meet those needs

Related: Business Strategy Components And Examples

2. Service Design

The Service Design stage provides a set of procedures and best practices to help organisations design new IT services. It ensures that the design principles align with an organisation's goals. The team requires focusing on key factors which are implementation, integration and impact of the new services planned. This stage is beneficial because it can help a company:

  • Focus on the quality and consistency of services

  • Improve processes and performance

  • Enable better decision making

  • Ensure that the services are user-friendly

3. Service Transition

The Service Transition stage manages the transition of a service from one phase to another. It ensures that adequate resources are available for this transition. It also ensures the transition follows the business guidelines documented in the previous stages. This stage is beneficial because it:

  • Improves the quality of service during the transition

  • Assesses the impact of new services on existing services

  • Ensures that the transitioned services meet customer expectations

  • Gathers, stores and analyses the details of the transition process to assist in future transitions

4. Service Operation

The Service Operation stage ensures the effective and efficient delivery of IT services. This includes monitoring services, addressing incidents, providing quick resolutions and fulfilling requests. It also tracks daily operations and infrastructure used to deliver IT services. This stage is beneficial because it:

  • Identifies the cause of incidents and helps organisations resolve them

  • Handles service outages

  • Enforces IT security policies in an organisation

  • Provides operational data that helps improve the quality of ITIL processes

Related: A Complete Guide To Essential Operation Manager Skills

5. Continual Service Improvement

The Continual Service Management stage ensures that IT services align with changing business needs. It also enables organisations to define metrics that help identify opportunities for improvement in IT services. This stage helps organisations modify existing services and introduce new ones to meet changing user needs. This stage is beneficial because it:

  • Strengthens the relationship between business and users

  • Summarises management operations and services throughout the ITIL lifecycle

  • Provides a baseline to measure the quality of services delivered

  • Helps organisations discover efficient ways to improve their business processes and reduce operational costs

Related: 9 Popular Incident Management Tools (And How To Choose One)

How To Use ITIL?

Follow these steps if you want to implement ITIL in an organisation:

1. Conduct ITIL assessment

It is essential to identify areas of an organisation that can benefit from using ITIL processes. This includes reviewing the service workflow, installing the right tools and having proper documentation. Organisations can conduct surveys, interviews and training workshops as part of the initial assessment. ITIL assessment aims to gain insight into an organisation's people, procedures and various departments.

Related: How To Become An Incident Manager: A Complete Guide

2. Identify roles and owners

Implementing ITIL requires effective delegation of roles and functions to the personnel involved. Organisations can store the details of various people and their involvement in ITIL in a Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed (RACI) matrix. They can utilise this information during the operational phase. They can also engage employees in understanding the benefits of ITIL processes. This helps in effective coordination and implementation, along with improving the quality of ITIL processes.

Related: FAQ: What Is An ITIL Certification? (With Types And Benefits)

3. Perform gap analysis

This step requires an ITIL practitioner or someone with in-depth knowledge of ITIL processes to identify gaps in current tools, evaluate the state of existing processes and coordinate with various stakeholders to understand new user requirements. A gap analysis report provides the following information:

  • Processes that an organisation requires changing

  • Processes that an organisation requires abandoning

  • New processes that an organisation requires introducing

This step helps an organisation evaluate the cost, human resources and time required to achieve its vision.

Related: 15 Types Of Operations Metrics And Their Use In Business

4. Plan new processes

It is necessary to incorporate the ITIL best practices when designing a new process. Organisations can use key performance indicators (KPIs) to monitor these processes and ensure they are running as expected. It is important for these KPIs to be measurable so that it is possible to track and control them.

Related: What Is Process Control? (Definition, Benefits And Examples)

5. Implement the processes using a roadmap

A roadmap outlines all the necessary steps to complete a project successfully. The team involved in the implementation phase can divide the available timeframe into chunks to complete the high-priority tasks in the beginning. They can also use metrics to track their progress and present it to the management.

Related: Importance Of Control Management (Features, Types, Benefits)

Limitations Of ITIL

ITIL may present limitations, such as:

  • It is time-consuming. Before adopting ITIL, it is essential for organisations to define their objectives and identify processes that can benefit from its implementation. Integrating ITIL in all units of an organisation may not be necessary and can consume additional time and resources.

  • Employees may have inadequate training. Some employees find it challenging to learn and implement ITIL. It is necessary for project managers and leads to enroll in ITIL certification courses.

  • It may require additional effort in change management. Some IT systems require substantial effort to change, upgrade or modify. Lack of documentation for legacy systems may result in inefficient transition, causing frequent outages.

  • There can be a lack of transparency. Lack of transparency between an organisation's IT department and other business units can make it challenging to implement the framework.

  • A company may take an unstructured approach. A lack of proper documentation and structured methodology may cause employees to use different approaches to fix the same problem. This makes an organisation people-dependent instead of process-dependent.

  • There may be a delay in transition. A lack of quality assurance at each stage of the software development cycle can cause many incidents in the deployment phase. Repeated redevelopment and retesting can result in delays and additional costs and resources when transitioning from the development phase to the service deployment phase.

  • A company might have a slow incident response. Lack of processes to track compliance and categorise incidents based on severity may cause delays in resolving them. It is essential for organisations to maintain proper documentation and improve their incident management system.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in the article are associated with Indeed.

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