Examining ITSM vs. ITIL: 10 Things You Need to Know

07/05/2017 by: Stephen Mann

Examining ITSM vs ITIL.jpg

The IT industry is filled with acronyms, and not just the three-letter variety. And so is IT service management (ITSM) – and here we have this blog’s first four-letter example.It gets used many more times throughout this blog post.

If you want to understand more about ITSM, and ITIL, then of course you could read the five core ITIL 2011 books – service strategy, service design, service transition, service operation, and continual service improvement (the first of this blog’s ten ITSM and ITIL facts). Or you could just keep reading for some more important, and sometimes interesting, ITSM and ITIL information. Some facts might even surprise you…

9 More Things You Need to Know About ITSM and ITIL

  • ITSM and ITIL aren’t the same thing. But what’s two different characters between friends? Well, more than you might think and thus it’s good not to confuse the two terms, and wrong to use them interchangeably. ITSM is a professional discipline used by IT teams to better manage the delivery of IT services. Whereas,the ITIL overview is a popular ITSM best practice framework. Using the medium of cheese to hopefully better explain the difference –cheddar is cheese, but not all cheese is cheddar. Thus, ITIL is ITSM but not all ITSM is ITIL.

  • ITIL isn’t the only approach to ITSM. Following on from the previous bullet, organizations can firstly be doing ITSM without knowing it, or without adopting a best practice approach. After all, ITIL is commonly called “documented common sense.” There are also other well-known approaches to ITSM that come in the form of methodologies, frameworks, and standards. For instance, the international ITSM standard ISO/IEC 20000, the best practice framework COBIT, and IT4IT – a “reference architecture for managing the business of IT.” Please follow the links to find out more about each.

  • ITIL is no longer an acronym, and hasn’t been since 2007! You might be wondering why I haven’t used “The IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL)” in the above text, as I did with IT service management. Well, this is the reason – ITIL ceased to be known by its longer form with ITIL v3. If you don’t believe me, because you still see and hear so many mentions of the IT Infrastructure Library, then please check your ITIL v3 or 2011 books.There’s no mention of it.

  • ITSM and ITIL are so much more than the IT service desk. In fact, in ITIL 2011, there are – believe it or not – 26 ITSM processes and four functions. ITIL 2011, with its26 processes and the aforementioned five core books, is now also about so much more than just the IT service delivery and support that I remember so fondly from ITIL v2.

50 Questions for Building ITSM Requirements

  • ITIL 2011 wasn’t ITIL v4. Instead, the 2011 version was a just an update to 2007’s v3. No new concepts were added, with the update designed to “resolve errors and inconsistencies in the text and diagrams across the whole suite.”

  • ITIL is no longer run by the UK government. If you’re a fan of the UK government, don’t worry – it still has a share of ITIL. But ITIL is now run by AXELOS, a Capita company, which won a tender exercise for the right to do so in 2013. You can read more on that here.

  • ITIL 2011 isn’t the latest major ITIL publication. That honor instead rests with the ITIL Practitioner Guidance book, which was envisioned and created to “show ‘how’ to start adopting and adapting the ITIL framework within day-to-day situations and responsibilities.”

  • Assessing ITSM maturity isn’t as straight forward as you might think. Compare two different organizations. One “does” five ITSM processes really well, the other “does” ten ITSM processes poorly. Which is the maturer organization in ITSM or ITIL terms? The answer is, unfortunately, “It depends who you ask.” You can read more on ITSM maturity here.

  • Many organizations still only do a small subset of the ITSM and ITIL disciplines. So, when an organization says that it “does” ITIL it can mean a wide variety of things. It might only be using it for incident management. Or it might be using many of the core ITSM capabilities, such as service desk  and problem management, change, configuration, knowledge, and service level management. Or some organizations, and very few, will state that they “do” most of ITIL’s 26 processes. Thus, when you see ITSM and ITIL adoption figures, appreciate the spectrum of the adoption levels.

So, that’s my ten key facts about ITSM and ITIL. What else would you have mentioned if you’d authored the blog? Let us know in the comments!

| ITIL / ITSM

Stephen Mann

Stephen Mann

Stephen Mann is Principal and Content Director at the ITSM-focused industry analyst firm ITSM.tools. Also an independent IT and IT service management marketing content creator, and a frequent blogger, writer, and presenter on the challenges and opportunities for IT service management professionals.

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