What is ITIL®?

The Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL®) is an integrated set of best practices developed to assist businesses in delivering IT services to customers. ITIL is a widely adopted framework designed by the Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency (CCTA), a government agency in Great Britain; it's currently owned by AXELOS Ltd.

ITIL enables organizations to maximize value for their customers by aligning IT resources with business needs. It helps reduce costs by measuring, monitoring, and optimizing IT services and the performance of service providers, and shows organizations how to easily standardize their service management across their enterprise. In spite of every organization being unique in terms of IT infrastructure and governance, ITIL's guidelines are flexible enough to help any organization achieve its service management objectives.

To accomplish these objectives, ITIL 4, the latest edition of ITIL that was released in 2019, introduced 34 management practices. These practices, formerly known as processes, can be defined as sets of organizational resources designed to achieve the desired goal. They are detailed in procedures that outline who is involved in and how the processes are carried out. These 34 practices are divided into three major categories: general management practices, service management practices, and technical management practices.

ITIL definition

ITIL 4 practices

General management practices Service management practices Technical management practices
Architecture management Availability management Deployment management
Continual improvement Business analysis Infrastructure and platform management
Information security management Capacity and performance management Software development and management
Knowledge management Change control
Measurement and reporting Incident management
Organizational change management IT asset management
Portfolio management Monitoring and event management
Project management Problem management
Relationship management Release management
Risk management Service catalog management
Service financial management Service configuration management
Strategy management Service continuity management
Supplier management Service design
Workforce and talent management Service desk
Service level management
Service request management
Service validation and testing

The evolution of ITIL

Evolution of ITIL
  • 1980
  • 1980
  • 2000
  • 2001
  • 2007
  • 2011
  • 2013
  • 2019
  • ITIL Early 1980s
    Early 1980s - The cause.

    Without a fixed standard for IT systems, every business provided different levels of services.

  • ITIL late 1980s
    Late 1980s - Inception of ITIL.

    The CCTA puts forth a 30-volume framework for standardized IT services.

  • ITIL 2000
    2000 - The global standard.

    The CCTA becomes the Office of Government Commerce (OGC). Microsoft uses ITIL as a basis to develop its Microsoft Operations Framework (MOF).

  • ITIL 2001
    2001 - ITIL V2 is released.

    ITIL V2 is restructured to make it more accessible to the masses. ITIL becomes the most widely used IT service management (ITSM) tool.

  • ITIL 2007
    2007 - ITIL V3 is launched.

    ITIL V3 is condensed to five volumes, providing more of a life cycle approach to service management.

  • ITIL Revision of ITIL V3
    Revision of ITIL V3.

    ITIL's 2007 version is revised to remove inconsistencies, and the ITIL service catalog is added.

  • ITIL 2013

    AXELOS Ltd., a joint venture between Capita and the British Government's Cabinet Office, takes ownership of ITIL.

  • ITIL holistic
    The holistic ITIL 4.

    ITIL 4 makes it easier for organizations to align ITIL with all areas of digital transformation.

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ITIL Incident management process

Evolution of ITIL ITIL incident management process

Incident management aims to reduce the impact of incidents by identifying, reporting, analyzing, and resolving issues efficiently. ServiceDesk Plus helps organizations design an incident management process that enables tickets to be logged, managed, and resolved within the agreed resolution times. Using ServiceDesk Plus, service desk teams handle an incident better at every stage in its life cycle.

From custom incident templates that enable proper ticket logging with all relevant information, to no-code automation that helps categorize and assign tickets to technicians, ServiceDesk Plus addresses all incident management scenarios. Its built-in knowledge base helps technicians document and publish solutions for repeat incidents. The predefined help desk dashboards give a snapshot of the team's performance in real time. Metrics such as ticket volume, technician productivity, ticket churn, and resolution time help in measuring the success of the organization's incident management objectives

ITIL best practices in incident management Service desk features
Enable multiple channels for reporting issues Multimodal ticket creation via email, phone, self-service portal, virtual agent, and business apps
Collect comprehensive information on the issue during ticket logging Customizable incident templates
Perform hands-free categorization, prioritization, and assignment Business rules, technician auto-assign, and priority matrix
Move to a shift-left model for L1 tickets Self-service portal, solution auto-suggest, and Zia
Minimize resolution times Request life cycle, integrated knowledge base, resolution templates, as well as request sharing and collaboration
Track and manage SLAs Response and resolution SLAs, SLA escalations, and actions
Ensure prompt and relevant communication on ticket progress Notification rules, canned responses, and notes
Reduce re-open rates and incident backlogs Automated ticket closure, incident KPIs, custom reports, and advanced analytics
Maximize end-user satisfaction levels User surveys

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ITIL Service catalog management process

ITIL service catalogue management process

The service catalog is a repository of all IT services offered to end users, ranging from a simple keyboard request to a complex new server upgrade; it provides complete visibility into the various services each user receives. An efficient service catalog helps service desk technicians streamline the service request management process by granting end users quick and easy access to services, as well as provide timely delivery of the requested services.

ServiceDesk Plus enables teams to create custom service request templates, and publish them on a simple self-service portal for easy access. Each service request template can be customized on a drag-and-drop canvas to ensure all the relevant information is collected at the time of ticket creation. ServiceDesk Plus also offers exclusive resource sections within the templates, enabling teams to collect comprehensive information from end users. Each service request template can have its own set of workflows that include a five-stage approval process, automatic SLA application, and a set of tasks required to deliver the service. With role-based access to the service request template, service desk teams can ensure that only the right services are displayed to the intended users.

To hone the service delivery process, ServiceDesk Plus' reporting capabilities enable the service desk teams to measure and analyze metrics such as the costs associated with a service, the least and most used services, and how often the information stored in the service catalog is updated.

ITIL best practices in service catalog management Service desk features
Showcase the wide range of IT services offered and improve IT visibility Service categories, service templates, and resources
Present the right services to the right users Role-based user access, user groups
Involve the right stakeholders Technician groups, user groups, organization roles, and service request approvers
Increase the efficiency of service delivery Business rules, request life cycle, and tasks
Define authorization, escalation, and notification policies 5-stage approval process, SLAs, and notification rules
Set the right service level expectations for end users and technicians Response and resolution SLAs, SLA escalation notifications, and actions
Track service delivery costs Service costs, resource costs

ITIL problem management process

ITIL problem management process

The aim of problem management is to identify the root cause of recurring incidents and major incidents, and resolve them promptly to minimize the possibility of those incidents occurring again. In ServiceDesk Plus, a problem ticket can be raised on its own or through an incident. ServiceDesk Plus helps technicians investigate a problem systematically and document the symptoms (the evidence to help identify the problem), root cause (the detection of the underlying cause of the incident), and impact (the adverse effect of the problem on the business).

ServiceDesk Plus facilitates the mapping of multiple incidents to a problem. This way, when the technician resolves the problem, all associated incidents automatically close. ServiceDesk Plus' reports enable teams to identify problem trends which, in turn, assists with developing permanent solutions for recurring incidents. Viewing the number of recurring incidents, the number of known errors identified, and other metrics tells teams how well their problem management process is improving their organization's IT service availability.

ITIL best practices in problem management Service desk features
Identify incidents that require a root cause investigation Ability to create a problem ticket from an incident, problem logging
Precisely define each major problem and quantify the business impact Services affected, ability to add assets involved in templates
Identify the problem owner Problem roles, technicians
Standardize the format for defining problems Problem templates
Assign solution implementation to specific users with due dates Tasks
Maintain a known error database Ability to label a problem as a known error
Track solution implementation and effectiveness Analysis, workarounds, and RCA
Keep notification mechanisms in place to keep stakeholders informed Notification rules, announcements

ITIL change management process

ITIL change management process

The goal of change management is to minimize the impact of changes by following standardized methods and procedures. The focus of change management in ITIL V3 was primarily on the life cycle of a change from planning to deployment. Change control, introduced in ITIL 4, begins the process by evaluating whether the change needs to be implemented or not. The risks involved, overall effect the change will have on people, how substantial the expected benefits of the change are, and other factors are analyzed before the change enters the planning stage. These modifications in ITIL 4 allow change control to support modern approaches like Agile, DevOps, and continuous deployment or continuous integration.

Change management in ServiceDesk Plus ensures that changes are carried out methodically by assessing the risks involved, authorizing changes to proceed with the change-advisory board (CAB), and managing the change schedule without conflicts using the change calendar. ServiceDesk Plus makes managing your change cycle easy through out-of-the-box features like change templates, change types, roles, statuses, and custom multi-stage change workflows that enable efficient handling of changes of all sizes and complexities. ServiceDesk Plus ensures that end users are kept in the loop about planned downtime and other announcements with automated notification rules and customized email templates. Change metrics such as the ratio of change-related incidents to the total number of incidents, as well as the change acceptance rate also help organizations continually measure, analyze, and improve their change management process.

ITIL best practices in change management Service desk features
Identify the type of change Change types
Define key roles and responsibilities Change roles
Design processes for different change types Change workflows, visual change life cycle with multistage processes
Log, manage, and prioritize change proposals Custom change templates, logging from incident or problem records, and change calendar
Gain clear insights on risks and the impact of changes Risks, change planning (including impact analysis and rollout plans), and CMDB integration for downstream impact
Communicate schedules and any downtime to stakeholders Downtime schedule, announcements
Put an effective approval mechanism in place CAB, change manager
Measure the progress and effectiveness of change implementations Implementation checklist, tasks, and project association
Keep contingency plans in place Backout plans

ITIL release management process

ITIL release management process

Release management is responsible for the successful deployment of the change or project in an organization. The primary goal of release management is to ensure that the new and upgraded changes are released and systematically adapted into the organization's IT infrastructure.

ServiceDesk Plus supports release management with out-of-the-box functionalities such as custom workflows for various releases, which can be created using a drag-and-drop canvas. ServiceDesk Plus assists teams throughout the entire workflow of the IT release by helping them document the impact, rollout, backout plans, and implementation checklists. Multiple people can be made a part of a release by associating custom roles with them, which define the level of access a person has across the release activity. Assessing metrics such as the number of outages caused by a release, number of incidents caused by a release, and percentage of releases delivered on time for production helps organizations deploy releases with minimal risk and greater transparency.

ITIL project management process

ITIL project management process

Any project that deals with IT infrastructure, information systems, or computer technology is termed an IT project. Project management guides the successful delivery of all IT projects in an organization. This involves methodical planning, execution, monitoring, and control over the process and people involved in the project. Project management helps determine the scope of work, utilize and assign resources, and schedule the project in its entirety.

In ServiceDesk Plus, teams can create IT projects of different complexities and scale using custom project templates. For more efficient management, teams can create milestones for each project, and divide these milestones into smaller tasks; progress is tracked with a visual timeline and also with the color-coded Gantt chart. Project roles can also be set to onboard users and technicians into a project with the appropriate access permissions. Measuring various metrics, such as the estimated cost of the project, number of open tasks, and percentage of milestones missed, helps organizations optimize their project management. Project management in ServiceDesk Plus makes creating projects, managing resources, and tracking progress a seamless operation.

ITIL best practices in project management Service desk features
Collect all relevant information beforehand to identify the scope, budget, and time needed Project templates
Break down your projects into sub activities Milestones, tasks
Define different roles and responsibilities Project roles, members
Effectively track the progress of projects Project status, Gantt charts
Keep track of the effort spent at a granular level Worklog
Use data to make better decisions on-the-go Project overview map, project reports
Integrate project management with other ITSM modules Ability to associate requests and changes with projects

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ITIL asset management process

ITIL asset management process

IT asset management helps organizations discover, track, and manage all assets, including hardware, software, virtual, and non-IT assets, from a centralized location. This helps service desk teams effectively manage an asset across its life cycle, from procurement to disposal. With complete visibility into the software in their network and the licenses on hand, teams can ensure high software license compliance. IT asset management tightly supports all other key ITSM practices, including incident, problem, service request, and change management. When integrated together, these practices produce better business outcomes.

ServiceDesk Plus helps IT teams inventory all their hardware and software assets through a wide range of asset scanning methods. These include an agent-based scan, a Windows domain scan that discovers all the Windows domains that are part of the network, a distributed asset scan that scans all assets from multiple sites, and a network scan that goes through all IP devices to find routers, switches, printers, and assets running Linux, Solaris, and macOS. Assets can also be manually imported using a CSV file filled with all asset details, including the hardware and software specifics. In addition to scanning, discovering, and updating asset information, ServiceDesk Plus also maintains the asset across its life cycle and determines its total cost of ownership, which helps in forecasting and making purchase decisions.

Software asset management in ServiceDesk Plus helps achieve high software license compliance rates. It also lowers the risk of audit violations through built-in software license management, including real-time software license metering and compliance dashboards. ServiceDesk Plus' dashboards provide a complete overview of an organization's inventory at a glance. The software dashboard displays compliance states; software statuses such as managed, prohibited, and unidentified; and license states, like under license or expired. The hardware asset dashboard shows assets based on location, workstation, and contract status. ServiceDesk Plus' reports help organizations improve the performance of their asset management and CMDB exponentially by displaying the number of over-licensed assets, number of assets in storage, number of retired assets to be salvaged, and more.

ITIL best practices in asset management Service desk features
Keep track of asset depreciation and other costs Depreciation, cost center, and GL codes
Manage all your software license investments Software, license, and agreement types
Track software usage and compliance Software metering, software and license dashboards
Stay on top of your IT purchases Purchase management, vendor list, approvals, invoice and payment, and associated assets
Centralize the asset contracts management process Contract details, renewal details, child contracts, expiry notifications, and associated assets
Ensure that your ITAM supports other ITSM process Asset information in incidents, problems, changes, and projects; mapping to CMDB

Configuration management database (CMDB)

ITIL configuration management database

A CMDB is a database that contains all the relevant information about an organization's hardware and software assets, including the relationships between them. In a CMDB, the sets of tools and data used to deliver services are called configuration items (CIs). The CMDB ensures that all information about CIs, including the mapped relationships of CIs, can be identified, upgraded, and audited whenever needed.

ServiceDesk Plus helps IT teams inventory all their hardware and software assets through a wide range of asset scanning methods. These include an agent-based scan, a Windows domain scan that discovers all the Windows domains that are part of the network, a distributed asset scan that scans all assets from multiple sites, and a network scan that goes through all IP devices to find routers, switches, printers, and assets running Linux, Solaris, and macOS. Assets can also be manually imported using a CSV file filled with all asset details, including the hardware and software specifics. In addition to scanning, discovering, and updating asset information, ServiceDesk Plus also maintains the asset across its life cycle and determines its total cost of ownership, which helps in forecasting and making purchase decisions.

ServiceDesk Plus' CMDB helps IT teams build a central repository of all the CIs available in their network, along with all relevant information. CI relationship maps can be drawn using a simplified drag-and-drop interface that documents the relationships and helps explain the dependencies of IT assets. ServiceDesk Plus helps service desk teams manage and monitor critical services and assets, as well as view details about CI relationships, associated requests, changes, and problems by defining custom business views. In ServiceDesk Plus, the CMDB integrates with all other modules to better manage an organization's IT environment, making it a fundamental resource for IT professionals. The CMDB helps with processes like analyzing cascading incidents and determining the impact of changes that, in turn, affect the decision-making process.

Integration among ITIL practices

ITIL / ITSM integrations

In ServiceDesk Plus, multiple ITIL practices like incident, change, and asset management work in tandem to ensure maximum availability of IT services. For instance, a problem can be logged from an incident, and similar incidents can be linked to that problem. A new change can be initiated from within a problem when a permanent solution is identified. During problem analysis or change planning, critical information about assets can be obtained from the CMDB. Service desk teams can also refer to the CMDB for relationship information to obtain an integrated view of the IT assets and services impacted by the change, and to analyze the downstream impact of incidents. With the release module in ServiceDesk Plus, changes can be associated with releases by logging new releases from change requests, and all the necessary documentation entered in the change ticket can be carried over.

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