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ITIL v3 is Your Next Step in ITSM

ITIL v3 changes enable service-driven processes instead of process-driven services, writes ITSMWatch guest columnist Eddy Peters of CTG.
Feb 20, 2009

Eddy Peters


Most of us still remember June 2007, when the long-awaited ITIL v3 was released. This version would present an integrated approach to service management by covering all aspects of the service life cycle—from cradle to grave and everything in between. The journey was documented in five books called the "core volumes".

On launch day, the itSMF presented the ITIL v3 “roadshow," a document, which to this day provides quality information. The roadshow includes a complete overview of ITIL v3 and answers to questions like Why the need for change? and What is the purpose of ITIL v3? The future looked promising!

To better understand the capabilities of v3, we devoured the core volumes and then carefully evaluated them against the purpose and changes identified in the roadshow presentation. This exercise resulted in the following dashboard, which shows how well the core volumes deliver on itSMF’s promises:

Fig. 1 - Study summary covering all volumes

Early on, we saw that v3 didn’t quite meet expectations. The lack of more practical “how to” guidance was a bit of a surprise. Luckily, itSMF foresaw complementary publications, which would provide more guidance and understanding. But since the complementary material is still in development, we’ve been digging even deeper into the hidden opportunities in the core volumes’ 1,344 pages. Although there have been many informative sessions about v3, the potential is still not fully clear.

So, if you're asking yourself "is v3 your next step in IT service management?" You’ll be relieved to hear that ITIL v2 is still alive and kicking. In fact, v2 is here to stay; alongside v3. Why? Because it’s concise and focused on day-to-day management of existing IT services. Compared to v3, it is a useful "pocket guide" consisting of just two books and 686 pages. So, you can continue to use your existing v2 processes. However, v3 introduces some interesting ideas to further mature your daily activities. Some gems which are worth looking into:

  • Request fulfillment: the explanation that was missing in v2 Service Request

  • Event management (completely new): guidance for integrating warnings from monitoring tools into support activities.

Among others, these processes round out ITIL’s guidance for optimizing your daily operations. What else is in v3?

Process-Driven Services

ITIL v3 covers much more ground, from development to testing to facilities to operations. New processes like Service Catalog Management can increase awareness of what services are delivered. Service Asset and Configuration Management provide an approach to dealing with service management information. These actions will help build an improved, more mature, process-driven IT organization. This is good, but it could be better.

The full potential of v3 cannot be realized by focusing solely on process implementations or improvements—that’s just ITIL v2.5. The emphasis on processes leads to a new phenomenon: process silos. These are similar to the functional silos we all know so well, which each compete for a share of the budget. Implemented processes provide great benefits to the IT organization (streamlined activities, improved capabilities of specific IT groups, optimal resource usage, to name a few). But these improvements don’t necessarily roll up to the rest of the business. Why not? Because they’re mostly still focused inward; on IT.

Service-Driven Processes

ITIL v3 provides the next step in service management: think service, think life cycle. Service management in the IT organization is no longer driven by processes, but by the elements ITIL was created for in the first place—services.

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