If I type “What is IT” into my favourite search engine then the suggestion “What is ITIL” appears near the top of the list of suggestions, so I guess lots of people must be asking this question.
Unfortunately this is one of those questions that is very easy to ask, but quite difficult to answer. I followed the links that I found when I searched for “What is ITIL”, but the explanations I found were often written in language that would be quite hard to follow if I didn’t already know what ITIL® is. Here are some examples:
I guess if you’re reading this article then you’d also like to know what ITIL is, and that explanations like these have left you still searching, so here is my attempt to answer the question. I’ll start with a one sentence explanation, just so you can compare my attempt with the ones I found on my internet search.
ITIL is a way of ensuring that investments in IT create real value by providing a consistent, structured framework for planning, building, and running IT services.
If my short answer leaves you no wiser, then let me give you some context as a basis for a more long-winded explanation that I hope will be a bit easier to understand.
We are becoming increasingly dependent on IT, both in our personal lives and in the organisations where we work. We invest significant amounts of time and money on purchasing and using IT equipment, so we need to make sure that our investment delivers the value that we need, rather than just soaking up all the resources we make available before letting us down when we most need it.
Obviously, we all want IT to deliver the value we need. ITIL is simply a way to help ensure that we do all the things we need to do to make sure that happens.
Organisations don’t get any value just from their hardware, or their network, or the applications they use; it takes all of these things and many more to create value. ITIL considers IT as a provider of services that creates value.
There are lots of different definitions of what a service is, and I’m not going to quote the ITIL definition here as that would require a lot of explanation. The simplest way to think about it is that a service is something that somebody else does for you, to help you achieve something that you want. Examples of IT services are:
An organization that wishes to provide these IT services efficiently and effectively has to do lots of things, including:
These sort of activities are called service management, and since we are dealing with IT services, they are IT service management, commonly abbreviated to ITSM.
Now that I’ve given you a bit of context I can try again to explain what ITIL is.
ITIL is the world’s best known framework for ITSM. It includes:
To find out more about ITIL you can: