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ITIL v3: The Evolution Of Service Management Philosophy

ITIL is growing up and v3 reflects that real-life experience, writes ITSM Watch guest columnist Troy DuMoulin of Pink Elephant.
Jun 15, 2007

Troy DuMoulin

It has often been said that the only constant is change. In the dynamic world we live in, this is true of all organic things and ITIL is no different. From its humble beginnings as an internal U.K. government initiative, to its growth and adoption as a global best practice and standard for Service Management, ITIL has taken many steps along the road of progress and maturity.

First published in the late 1980s, ITIL started as a project to document best practices in IT, but it has since become known worldwide as the most credible framework for IT Service Management and is now an international standard (ISO 20000).

The last version (v2) was published in 2000. Commencing in 2004, the ITIL v3 project involved extensive consultations with thousands of global ITSM practitioners from the public and private sector, vendors, qualification bodies, exam institutes and education providers. The ITIL Refresh Publications & Newsletters from The Stationary Office (TSO), the official ITIL publishers, have given us some interesting insight into the future of IT Service Management as documented by ITIL.

Among the key changes we will see in ITIL v3 is a shift towards a service-driven lifecycle approach and more prescriptive guidance than v2. Whereas v2 outlined what should be done in terms of process improvement, v3 explains how it should be done. Demonstrating ROI to the business is another new feature that was one of the most common requests from the industry consultations.

It is Pink Elephant’s view that ITIL v3 is definitely taking a major step in the right direction. Comparing v2 to v3, we can identify and interpret some additional key evolutions in ITSM philosophy:

Business/IT Alignment (v2) vs. Business/IT Integration (v3): For many years, we have been discussing the topic of how to align business and IT objectives. We have done this from the assumption that while they (business and IT) shared the same corporate brand, they were somehow two separate and very distinct functions.

However, when does the line between the business process and its supporting technology begin to fade to a point where there is no longer a true ability to separate or revert back to manual options?

If you consider banking as an example, the financial management business processes and their supporting technologies are now so inter-dependent that they are inseparable. It is due to this growing realization that the term alignment is being replaced with the concept of integration.

Value Chain Management (v2) vs. Value Service Network Integration (v3): When reading ITIL v2, you get the perception that the business and IT relationship is primarily about a business customer being supported by a single internal IT service provider (Value Chain Management). Little acknowledgement or guidance is provided about the reality of life never being quite that simple.

Today’s business and IT relationship for service provision is much more complicated and complex than the concept of a single provider meeting all business needs. We need to consider that yes, there are internal IT functions, but some are found within a business unit structure where others are providing a shared service model to multiple business units.

Add to this the option of using different external outsourcing options or leveraging software as a service (SaaS) model and what you end up with is what ITIL v3 refers to as an Integrated Value Service Network.

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