By David Pultorak

This article answers frequently asked questions about the IT
Infrastructure Library (ITIL), as an aid to CIOs
considering implementing ITIL in their organizations.

ITIL is a Service Management framework.

What is Service Management? The ITIL publication, Planning to Implement Service
defines IT Service Management (ITSM) as “management of
services to meet the customers’ requirement,” where services are “the
deliverables of the IT services organization as perceived by the Customers; the
services do not consist merely of making computer resources available for
customers to use.”

I have found it useful to define ITSM as follows: “Managing
IT as a services business, where resources are deployed and managed to a
discrete set of defined services, and where the quality of those services as
perceived by the customer is the #1 driving and aligning force in the
organization, with quality being defined as ‘matched to user and business needs
as they evolve.'”

In a nutshell, ITSM is about organizing and managing the IT
function around services with discrete value propositions, rather than just
technology or customers/business units.

What is ITIL?

ITIL is a set of publications
that provide descriptive (what to do and why) guidance on IT service
management. Created in the late 1980s by a UK government agency and later
expanded for use in all organizations, ITIL has become the international de
facto standard for service management. Four features make ITIL unique:

  • Vendor-neutral,
    best practice guidance. ITIL is a synthesis of ideas drawn from
    international IT practitioners–not academic theory of how things should be
    or a vendor’s view of how to operate their products.
  • Non-proprietary.
    While the ITIL publications aren’t free, anyone can apply ITIL concepts
    freely in their organization.
  • Comprehensive
    and consistent. Rather than providing isolated advice, ITIL attempts to
    describe every key process in IT service management and to use consistent,
    common sense definitions and distinctions across each process.
  • Widely
    adopted, encouraging industry alignment and making it a defensible choice
    for how to organize the business of IT.

The core ITIL publications, Service Support and
Service Delivery,
provide descriptive guidance on the ten fundamental processes and one function
within IT operations, as shown below.

Service Support

  • Service
    Desk Function
  • Incident
  • Problem
  • Change
  • Configuration
  • Release

Service Delivery

  • Availability
  • Capacity
  • Financial
  • Service
    Level Management
  • IT
    Service Continuity Management

Anyone implementing ITIL should have these books, along with
the Security Management
publication, as Service Delivery refers to but does not include this content.

Although Service Support and Service Delivery receive the
majority of attention, there are additional ITIL publications, including:

Questions you have may include, What
can I gain by adopting ITIL in my organization? What will ITIL do for me? What
can I accomplish with ITIL?

Benefits derived from ITIL implementation include increased:

  • Competitive
    advantage through cost reduction and by enabling growth and agility by the
    flexibility and scalability inherent in standardized processes and service
  • Business
    efficiency through streamlining of IT processes and better alignment
    between vital business functions and IT services
  • IT
    value through business and IT operational and goal alignment
  • Improved
    internal customer and user satisfaction
  • Speed
    and completeness of compliance with regulatory authorities, through a
    defensible standard model on which control objectives can be built

Chief among these benefits is alignment. Imagine if all of
your suppliers, partners, and internal staff had a common sense of purpose,
processes, and terminology. You’d then have a fighting chance of aligning all
those moving parts. That’s the promise of IT service management—alignment—and
with the increasing worldwide adoption of IT service management, that alignment
promises to extend outside your organization to your entire value chain,
including your customers, users, suppliers, tool vendors, outsource providers,
and prospective employees.

You can expect to derive the benefits listed above by
properly implementing ITIL. The operative term is “properly”; while ITIL may be
common sense, many find making it common practice in an organization

What are other organizations doing with ITIL?

Over 10,000 organizations worldwide have adopted ITIL. Organizations
that have published case studies claiming significant benefits from ITIL
include Proctor & Gamble, Capital One, Boeing, British Petroleum, the US
Army, US Navy, and the IRS.

According to a 2003 itSMF survey*
and a 2002 survey by DMR**, organizations implementing ITIL saw the following

Improved customer satisfaction*

Motivated staff and increased productivity*

More consistently implemented changes**

Reduced amount of time spent “firefighting”**

Reduced repetitive problems**

Produced more business-focused metrics**

According to the 2002 study conducted by the itSMF [ServiceTalk, The Journal
of the itSMF, Issue No. 53, February 2002], 97 percent
of organizations using ITIL said they had derived benefits from ITIL with 69
percent claiming tangible and measurable results. Procter & Gamble claims a
6 percent reduction in operating costs in one department as a result of an ITIL
initiative and expects similar savings as adoption spreads throughout the

How can I learn more?

For more information, visit the following sites:

  • Office of Government Commerce (OGC)–official
    ITIL site
  •, the website of the ITIL user’s group, the itSMF (IT Service Management Forum). The itSMF was formed in 1991 as an independent forum for
    ITIL users exchanging information and experiences. There are chapters in
    countries throughout the world, and Local Interests Groups (LIGs) throughout the U.S.
  • to learn about tools
    that support ITIL.
  • for a list of
    ITIL training providers. Many offer certification exams in conjunction
    with their courses, returning results in about a week or two. You can also
    take a computerized ITIL Foundation exam with instant results at any of
    more than 5,000 Prometric Testing Centers (

You can also attend an ITIL Service Management Awareness
session, which provides an overview of ITIL, or an ITIL Essentials course,
which provides a foundation-level understanding of ITIL.

David Pultorak is president of Fox
, a global IT service management consulting and training organization,
and founder of Pultorak & Associates,
which specializes in agile business process management. A recognized authority
in service management who has devoted 19 years to the IT industry, David has
contributed to ITIL and has been helping organizations put ITIL into practice
in the U.S. since 1997.