ITIL for Enterprise IT Management

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ITIL for Enterprise IT Management

by Geoff Keston

Docid: 00018638

Publication Date: 2111

Report Type: TUTORIAL


ITIL (originally, the IT Infrastructure Library) has become
commonplace in many organizations. It provides a framework of best
practices for IT service delivery that, if well-implemented, can improve
operations and reduce costs. Some government agencies even require ITIL
for companies seeking to do business with them. This report looks at what
ITIL is, the benefits it can offer, and how to begin implementing it.

Report Contents:

Executive Summary

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ITIL is a compilation of best practices in IT service

Best Practices in Change
Management Tutorial
Agile Software Development Tutorial
DevOps Tutorial

The popularity of the ITIL framework is due in part to the growing
emphasis on the role that executives and an organization as a whole should
play in managing the delivery of IT services: IT is increasingly
being governed in a more formal and systematic way. The framework’s
use is also being spurred by a trend toward treating corporate IT as a
service that is delivered to employees as if they were customers. This
trend marks a shift away from older approaches in which organizations
dictated what technology employees would use and tightly controlled their
use of it. ITIL provides guidelines for how technology services are
delivered to customers, whether they are internal employees or users of,
for example, a commercial cloud service.

Organizations that choose ITIL will likely need to send IT staff members to
the various types of training and certification programs available. And
there are other cost and time commitments associated with the framework – it
cannot be easily or quickly implemented. For some organizations, especially
those providing high-volume cloud services, employing ITIL is often
considered an expected best practice. It is also worth considering other
popular IT methodologies, like COBIT, Agile development, and DevOps, all of
which can be used as partial alternatives to ITIL or can work in complete
conjunction with it.


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ITIL (originally, the IT Infrastructure Library) is a framework that
defines core best practices for IT governance and management. It has grown
and evolved since its first incarnation in the early 1990s. Version 4
of the standard was officially released in February 2019, 12 years after
Version 3, which is now being retired.1


New certifications for ITIL V3 are being retired. Some courses have already
stopped being offered, and others will cease being offered no later than
July 1, 2022.2

The information below, about ITIL V3, is provided for historical
reference purposes:

V3 is structured around the service lifecycle. It consists of five
books plus the Official Introduction, which summarizes the service
lifecycle for managers.

The current set of core books is:

  •  Service Strategy
  •  Service Design
  •  Service Transition
  •  Service Operations
  •  Continual Service Improvement

Each book has been derived from a mapping of existing ITIL content,
plus additional material to address new requirements. In 2011, an update
to the core volumes was published that resolves inconsistencies in the
original books, improves explanation of concepts, and incorporates
recommendations from training organizations. Although it is known as
ITIL 2011, it is merely an enhancement to ITIL V3, not a new version of
the guidance.

As before, core volumes are supported by complementary titles. The
core consists only of the true core concepts and generic best practices,
which do not change rapidly (making it easier to update). Guidance from
V2 is still relevant; it was simply remapped to a new, more
business-oriented framework.

Supplementary publications address the application of the generic
core guidance in particular markets. For example, the early ITIL title
“ITIL in Small IT Units” was revised against the current guidance and
published as “ITIL Small-Scale Implementation.” It may subsequently be
updated to reflect further changes as the guidance is refreshed.

Elements covered in each volume are as follows:

  • Service Strategy. Covers financial
    management, service portfolio management, and demand management.
    Service strategy is the center of the current ITIL lifecycle

  • Service Design. Covers service catalog
    management, service level management, capacity management,
    availability management, IT service continuity management,
    information security management, and supplier management.

  • Service Transition. Covers the movement of
    services from design and development to production. It includes
    transition planning and support, change management, service asset
    and configuration management, release and deployment management,
    service validation and testing, evaluation, and knowledge

  • Service Operation. This is the most visible
    component, encompassing event management, incident management,
    request fulfillment, problem management, access management, monitor
    and control, IT operations, and service desk.

  • Continual Service Improvement. An ongoing
    process to examine and improve components of the other four areas. 


Many aspects of the design of ITIL 3 carry over to version 4, but there are
differences. Overall, the new version aims to be more “more agile” and more
“value-driven.”3 The focus on agility is in step with the trend
in software development toward approaches that are more flexible and that
encourage closer collaboration with IT operations as well as non-technical

The focus on “value” is made explicit by AXELOS, which contends that
because of the evolution of technology, it has become “crucial” for
organizations to “understand the value of IT, and to know how to
articulate that value.”5 In this conception of IT, value is a
key metric for making investment decisions. The focus on value is also
connected to the new version’s tilt toward the IT-as-a-service approach,
which, also in step with industry trends, encourages IT to be viewed as a
service delivered to customers, even if they are internal employees.6

With version 4, AXELOS has also sought to argue for ITIL’s applicability
to particular new technologies, including cloud computing, artificial
intelligence, big data, the Internet of Things, and blockchain.7


Until a few years ago, there were several organizations that administered
ITIL exams. But as of 2018, AXELOS designated PeopleCert as the only ITIL
EI (exam institute).

Certification for V3.

Under V3, candidates accumulate credits as they progress through training,
and once they have accumulated a sufficient number of credits they can be
awarded a certification. There are five levels within the scheme:

  • Foundation Level – The Foundation Level focuses on
    knowledge and comprehension to provide a good grounding in the key
    concepts, terminology, and processes of ITIL.
  • Practitioner Level – Introduced in 2015, the
    Practitioner Level was developed to offer additional practical guidance
    to adopt and adapt the ITIL framework to business. Exams are now being
  • Intermediate Level – There are two streams in the
    intermediate level. Both assess an individual’s comprehension and
    application of the concepts of ITIL. Candidates are able to take units
    from either of the intermediate streams, which give them credits towards
    the diploma.

    • Intermediate Lifecycle Stream – Five
      individual certificates built around the five core books: Service
      Strategy, Service Design, Service Transition, Service
      Operation, and Continual Service Improvement.
    • Intermediate Capability Stream – Four
      individual certificates loosely based on the current V2 offerings
      but broader in scope to align with the updated V3 content.
  • ITIL Expert – To achieve the ITIL Expert in IT
    Service Management, candidates must successfully complete, in addition
    to the Foundation Level, a number of intermediate units and the Managing
    Through the Lifecycle capstone course. This course brings together the
    full essence of a Lifecycle approach to service management and
    consolidates the knowledge gained across the qualification scheme.
  • ITIL Master – To be eligible for the ITIL Master
    Qualification, candidates must meet or fulfill the following entry

    • Have reached the ITIL Expert Level
    • Have worked in IT service management for at least five years in
      leadership, managerial, or higher management advisory levels.
    • Have practical hands-on ITIL experience demonstrating active
      involvement in implementation of the practices.

Certification for V4.

Under V4, the Foundation and Master levels of certification remain in
place, but the certification levels between them have been revised and
simplified to two: ITIL Managing Professional (ITIL MP) and ITIL
Strategic Leader (ITIL SL). ITIL MP focuses on IT workers and
completing projects, and ITIL SL
focuses on leaders and considers the role IT plays in broader business
concerns. MP has four sub-modules and SL has two sub-modules.

People who began the certification process
with ITIL 3 can transition to ITIL 4 to complete their testing, and people
who previously held ITIL V3 certifications are still considered to be

Current View

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ITIL’s main market consists of people responsible for managing the
delivery of IT services. Other staff who understand the principles,
however, can gain a better understanding of the context of their work.

One of ITIL’s primary strengths is the fact that it provides a common
vocabulary. This allows IT personnel in different companies to speak
the same language. It also provides a set of principles and
processes that can be adapted to suit almost any large IT
environment. These processes can assist an organization in improving
its service levels by providing guidelines for consistent, disciplined
management of each facet of IT service delivery. Major management software
vendors such as CA Technologies, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and Microsoft
leverage this by integrating ITIL processes into the logic of some of
their product designs.

A key goal of ITIL is to improve quality of service, which is then
reflected in lower support costs. Pink Elephant cites three examples of
what organizations can achieve: Proctor & Gamble reduced its help desk
calls by ten percent, Ontario Justice Enterprise cut its support costs by
40 percent by creating a virtual service/help desk, and Caterpillar used
ITIL principles to improve its achievement of target response times from
60 to 90 percent.9 ITIL training and certification, however,
is not cheap. It often costs thousands of dollars. Training a group of any
size can be expensive, even for a large enterprise.

Some analysts have expressed concern that ITIL practices are not suited
to the distributed enterprise. They point out that it is a set of
guidelines only and cannot be implemented “out of the box.” While they
acknowledge that many companies and governments have had successes, they
suggest that a revamping of the methodology is needed. At the same time,
however, they note that the use of ITIL is growing and is expected to
continue doing so.

Many of today’s modern service desk tools are now built around the ITIL
framework, making implementation of the practices easier.

Software Certifications

Service desk software can be certified as ITIL Process Compliant at one
of three levels:

  • Gold Level: The product (including processes and user
    documentation) has at least three customers that have implemented and
    are using the product. Proof of customer implementation of the audited
    product from the customer (letterheaded paper) endorsing their use is
    required with at least one piece of user evidence. Proof should state
    that they have the tool deployed in production and are using the tool to
    automate the assessed process in accordance with ITIL.
  • Silver Level: The product (including processes and
    user documentation) has at least three customers who are using the
    product. Proof of product order by customer on letterheaded paper is
    required (values may be blanked out) stating that the tool, including
    correct version, is deployed in production.
  • Bronze Level: The product, processes, and user
    documentation have passed the assessment.

There are currently two licensed software assessors who can grant these
certifications: Pink Elephant and Glenfis AG.10

International Standards

As British Standard 15000 on IT service management, which is aligned to
ITIL, has been adopted as international standard ISO/IEC 20000, future
maintenance and development will be by an international working group.
AXELOS and itSMF will work with relevant standards bodies to maintain
alignment between ISO/IEC 20000 and ITIL as both further develop,
including vocabulary, functions, and processes.


AXELOS has designated many companies to provide training globally. Some
training is available at the trainer’s location or at an organization’s
site and some is available online. A list of official training companies
is published on the AXELOS Web site.11

Some organizations offer “unofficial” training, not designated by AXELOS.


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Some analysts are raising questions about ITIL’s future given the growing
popularity of Agile software development and in particular DevOps. Agile
is a software creation philosophy that emphasizes flexibility, replacing
rigid upfront requirements with goals that are set and adjusted at various
points in a project. DevOps is a broad philosophy that encourages the use
of Agile methods and employs ongoing monitoring and testing during a
project, with adjustments being made throughout.

ITIL can work with Agile and DevOps. They aren’t in direct competition.
But there is a tension in that ITIL is typically associated with more
rigid and systematic planning while the other approaches emphasize the
importance of making regular changes based on frequent feedback. ITIL is
also sometimes blamed for creating departmental silos, which is one of the
main things that DevOps aims to break down.12


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Determine Whether (and to What Degree) to Pursue ITIL

Probably the least expensive way for an enterprise to decide whether ITIL
processes would help its IT service delivery is to send an appropriate
manager to the course leading to the Foundation Certificate, which may be
obtained though classroom study or online. This course teaches the basics of
the ITIL, which the manager could bring back and use as a benchmark against
which to compare the company’s operation. He or she would then be in a
position to recommend whether the methodology is appropriate.

If the decision is made to go ahead with ITIL’s IT service management
methodologies, whether or not a consultant is retained, in-house managers
should be trained and certified so they can continue to guide operations
after the consultant finishes. If selecting new support tools such as
helpdesk software in conjunction with an ITIL implementation, be sure that
products under consideration are compatible with ITIL vocabulary and

Technology is not the only factor to consider when contemplating the move
to ITIL processes. As with any major change, upper management must be on
board. Also, care must be taken to sell the idea to IT staff in advance to
prevent, as so often happens, the project from failing because of staff
inertia. They must be prepared to learn the new terminology and processes;
they will, in return, reap the benefits of more satisfied customers and
fewer help desk calls.

Consider COBIT

If the prospect of implementing ITIL practices seems too complicated or
expensive, enterprise planners can start with the highly-respected Control
Objectives for Information and related Technology (COBIT), which is a
business framework for the governance and management of enterprise IT; it
integrates components from other major frameworks, standards, and
resources, including ISACA’s Val IT and Risk IT, ITIL,13 and
related standards from the International Organization for Standardization
(ISO). It gained its present popularity as an instrument for achieving (or
demonstrating) Sarbanes-Oxley compliance.

An ISACA framework, COBIT is available to ISACA Members and Online
Account Users as a free download from the organization’s website. The
current release is COBIT 2019, and, like ITIL 4, it is more oriented than
previous versions toward Agile and DevOps.14


1 "ITIL 4: The Framework for the Management of
IT-Enabled Services.” AXELOS. See:

2 “The Countdown to Retiring ITIL v3
Courses Has Begun!” (blog entry). Pink Elephant. January 8, 2021.

3 Sarah K. White. “ITIL 4: ITSM Gets Agile.” CIO.
January 10, 2019.

4 Ibid.

5 Mark Smalley. “ITIL 4 and Fast Value Co-Creation.” AXELOS.
February 2019.

6 Sarah K. White. “ITIL 4: ITSM Gets Agile.” CIO.
January 10, 2019.

7 Mark O’Loughlin. “ITIL 4 and the Cloud.” AXELOS.
February 2019.

8 Philip Gallagher. “ITIL 4: A Huge Update for the World of
ITSM.” Good e-Learning. November 13, 2018.

9 “The ROI of ITIL." Pink Elephant.

10 “ITIL Software Scheme.” AXELOS. Available online at

11 “Strategic Accredited Training Organizations.” AXELOS.
Available online at

12 Jason Bloomberg. “DevOps and ITIL: Friends or Enemies?” Forbes.
November 13, 2015.

13 “Mapping of COBIT5 to ITIL v3 2011.” IT Research
. February 17, 2016.

14 John Lainhart. “Introducing COBIT 2019: The Motivation for
the Update?” ISACA. October 29, 2018.

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About the Author

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Geoff Keston is the author of more than 250 articles
that help organizations find opportunities in business trends and
technology. He also works directly with clients to develop communications
strategies that improve processes and customer relationships. Mr. Keston
has worked as a project manager for a major technology consulting and
services company and is a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer and a
Certified Novell Administrator.

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