Since its inception in the early 1990s, ITIL® has served as the preeminent global standard for IT service management. Despite having been restructured and revised several times, ITIL has maintained its relevance by changing with the times, adapting its methods to continuously satisfy the business needs of the thousands of companies that train their managers and executives in ITIL standards and practices.
IT professionals also need to stay updated on ITIL with a new version expected later this year—that’s why we’ve created a guide to explain the most important structural and methodological changes between ITIL v3, updated in 2007, and ITIL 2011. Keep reading to learn about the history of ITIL and understand how the 2011 version compares to its V3 predecessor.
History and Structure of the ITIL System and Methodology
In today’s ultra-connected technology and business environment, ITIL is immediately recognizable as the global standard for IT service management—but that wasn’t always the case. Before the emergence of ITIL in the 1990s, public and private sector organizations that wished to manage the IT infrastructure for their organizations were faced with the task of creating, implementing, and following their own frameworks for IT service delivery and operations. This lack of standardization resulted in high costs and wasted efforts, as organizations re-invented the wheel time and again in the absence of any readily available standards they could follow.
Then, between 1989 and 1996, the UK Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency (CCTA) released the first publication of the IT Infrastructure Library, today known as ITIL. ITIL v1 was comprised of a library of 30 volumes, recommending a broad framework of best practices for IT organizations. As technology and business needs evolved, ITIL evolved as well, with a second version of the standard being released in 2000-2001. This ITIL v2 reduced the 30-volume framework into nine modules, each with related items.
Finally, the 2007 version of ITIL, ITIL V3, was published with the five-volume format that most IT professionals recognize today. The five volumes are built around the concept of a service life-cycle structure, and each volume recommends procedures and best practices for one of five phases in the life cycle of an IT service:
- ITIL Service Strategy
- ITIL Service Design
- ITIL Service Transition
- ITIL Service Operation
- ITIL Continual Service Improvement
ITIL v3, now also known by the name “ITIL 2007 Edition,” was updated with “ITIL 2011.” This version does not make any major changes to the format of ITIL v3, but it does contribute some important updates that will be the focus of the rest of this article. Keep reading to learn what was new and different in ITIL 2011.
Changes to Service Strategy in ITIL 2011
The service strategy volume of ITIL offers recommendations for IT professionals in regard to the prioritization of service-provider investment in services, and discusses the four P’s of strategy: perspective, position, plan, and pattern. The guidelines for implementing service strategy have been clarified in ITIL 2011 without changing the overall message presented by ITIL v3. The updates and improved guidance to service strategy are generally considered to be the most important enhancement provided in ITIL 2011. Here are some key changes in the updated ITIL 2011:
- New Process: Strategy management for IT services – In ITIL v3, strategic assessments and the development of an overall service strategy were action items that fell under the process called “Service Portfolio Management.” ITIL 2011 proposes a new role—Service Strategy Manager—for someone who specializes in creating and implementing IT strategy that aligns with business needs.
- New Process: Business Relationship Management (BRM) – BRM is a new process that takes place throughout the entire product life cycle, rather than living in just one phase. BRM activities within the service strategy phase include identifying stakeholders, defining desirable business outcomes, specifying strategic requirements and how they will be funded, defining the business case for implementations, and validating the patterns of business activity to justify strategic decisions about IT expenditures.
Changes to Service Design in ITIL 2011
Just like in ITIL v3, the Service Design module of ITIL 2011 focuses on the architectures, processes, policies, and documentation that enables organizations to design IT services that meet their business needs. Here are some of the most significant differences in the updated ITIL 2011, compared to its predecessor:
- New Process: Design Coordination – A new process created for ITIL 2011, design coordination is meant to coordinate all activities across all designs and introduce standardization to the service design process. ITIL 2011 describes seven key activities for design coordination:
- Assist each project or change through all design activities and processes
- Maintain policies, guidelines, standards, budgets, models, resources, and capabilities
- Plan and forecast future resource requirements
- Prioritize conflicting requirements for resources
- Ensure all requirements are appropriately addressed
- Review and improve design performance
- Ensure the production of the service designs and SDP for handover to transition
- Redesigned Process: Service Level Management (SLM) – The newly updated Design Coordination protocol has led to a redesign of the Service Level Management (SLM) process, which is now mainly responsible for collecting information about service requirements for each IT service. SLM’s other core activities are monitoring and reporting to ensure that agreed service levels are being delivered on throughout the organization.
- New Process: BRM – While part of service strategy, the newly implemented business relationship management process manifests itself with the service design step with activities like validating customer requirements, validating patterns of business activity, confirming the costs of service and ensuring adequate funding for services, and ensuring that customers are appropriately involved in design activities.
- Redesigned Process: Service Catalog Management – The updated guidelines for service catalog management have done away with the “two-view” paradigm where customers view the service catalog from one side and the business views the catalog from the opposite side. The revised guidelines have incorporated a three-view model, wherein the business views look at services from the perspectives of both internal and external customers. This helps IT professionals “see both sides” of the services they provide.
Changes to Service Transition in ITIL 2011
The overarching goal of the service transition process is to go from service design to actually building and deploying the IT services. The Service Transition phase also exists to help ensure that changes to service and service management processes are structured and coordinated effectively. Effective Change Management mitigates risk for new, changing, and retiring services. Here are some of the key changes to the Service Transition module in ITIL 2011:
- Modified Process: Change Management – The Change Management process exists to ensure due oversight and documentation when an update or change is made to an existing IT service offering. New in ITIL 2011, major change requests must be submitted to a Change Evaluation process for formal evaluation. The new documentation highlights the fact that significant changes must be authorized at various points in the change life cycle, and new sub-processes have been added to affect the assessment of change proposals and minor change deployment. Importantly, the detailed planning of authorized changes and their release will now be conducted by Release Management.
- New Process: BRM – While part of service strategy, BRM activities in the service can include ensuring appropriate customer involvement in transition activities and training, validating release schedules, and being cognizant of known errors in new releases.
- Modified Role: Project Management – In ITIL 2011, the text has been changed to indicate that the main responsibility of project management is to coordinate service transition projects and resolve emerging conflicts. Project Management must call upon Release and Deployment Management to perform detailed planning of releases, and additional interfaces between Release Management and Transition Planning teams have been incorporated to ensure a constant flow of the most current and relevant information about planning new releases.
Changes to Service Operation in ITIL 2011
Service Operation represents the fourth module of ITIL 2011 and the fourth phase in the IT service life cycle. This module provides guidance and best practices on the principles, processes, activities, and functions that allows IT departments within organizations to effectively manage and administer IT services. While the previous modules focused on getting IT services from the strategic planning stage through deployment, service operation is all about ensuring that customers can access the service.
ITIL 2011 offers little in terms of revision to the Service Operation processes outlined in ITIL v3, but there was some new advice and guidance that further clarified certain aspects of Service Operation:
- Modified Process: Request Fulfillment – The latest guidance for Service Operation includes a revised process for request fulfillment that now consists of five sub-processes:
- Request fulfillment support – This process provides and maintains the tools and processes for effective and efficient handling of service requests.
- Request logging and categorization – This sub-process includes recording and categorizing service requests that come in, along with verifying that the service requester has the appropriate level of authorization to make the request in the first place.
- Request model execution – The objective of this process is to ensure that service requests are addressed within the targeted time frame.
- Request monitoring and escalation – This process exists to monitor the processing status of service requests within the IT department, such that managers can allocate more resources to service operation in a timely fashion if a backlog is generated.
- Request closure and evaluation – The final sub-process ensures that records of each request are submitted to a quality control process. This ensures that all requisite information has been captured from the service request so that any findings can be put to use at a later time.
- New Process: BRM – The new service strategy business relationship management process also includes activities that live in service operation, including the communication of scheduled service outages to affected customers, providing updates on major incidents, and acting as an escalation point for service requests.
- New Sub-Process: Proactive Problem Identification – ITIL 2011 places a special emphasis on problem detection through the establishment of a new proactive problem identification sub-process in the Service Operation phase of the IT service life cycle. ITIL 2011 makes it clear that problem categorization and prioritization should be harmonized—in other words, if a particular known IT service problem is resulting in a large number of service requests, that problem should be high up on the priority list of things to fix. This harmonized approach ensures that business and IT priorities are synchronized when it comes to addressing, limiting, and reducing service requests.
Changes to Continual Service Improvement in ITIL 2011
The goal of Continual Service Improvement (CSI) is to facilitate the ongoing improvement of services and processes offered by IT. There are just four processes that comprise the CSI phase of the IT life cycle: service review, process evaluation, definition of CSI initiatives, and monitoring of CSI initiatives. In fact, not much has changed between ITIL v3 and ITIL 2011 in terms of CSI, except for the few items listed below:
- Clarified Process: Seven Step Improvement – ITIL 2011 clarifies the improvement process into a clear and concise seven-step model:
- Identify the strategy for improvement
- Define what you will measure
- Gather the data
- Process the data
- Analyze the information
- Present and use the information
- Implement improvement
- New Process: BRM – BRM takes on three new activities under the CSI portion of ITIL 2011: reporting on service performance, undertaking customer satisfaction surveys, and initiating service improvement plans. That’s all!
For most IT professionals, there should be few surprises in the updated guidelines that were created for ITIL 2011. While keeping the structure of the guidance highly stable, the improved ITIL 2011 offers more detailed guidance and advice for some hot-button issues in IT, especially the handling of service requests, a more coordinated approach to design coordination, and the need for proactive problem identification.
IT professionals should excitedly welcome these new best practices and begin adopting them at their organizations to ensure compliance with the IT industry’s best practices today.