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ITIL® and ITSM – An Identity Crisis?

I have seen numerous people – consultants and practitioners using the terms ITIL and ITSM interchangeably.I have seen job titles like ITIL® process consultant, which ideally speaking should be ITSM process consultants. ITIL® has so widely been adapted that it has become synonymous with ITSM. To the uninitiated – ITIL® is not ITSM and ITSM is not ITIL®.

Discipline Vs Library

ITSM (IT Service Management) is a discipline to manage how end to end services are delivered to the consumers of the service. ITSM takes a holistic approach of a ‘service’ rather than focusing on the individual components that constitute the service. The ‘end user computing’ team in our organizations make sure we have our mailboxes configured, we have access to the network drives and we have our desk-phones working.In short they are delivering end user computing service to the employees.

ITIL® (IT Infrastucture Library) as the name suggests is a library of best practices collected over a period of time. ITIL® brought together all those best practices that were being followed in different organizations and condensed them into a set of books, that is what ITIL® is.

There can be different ways of how IT Service Management in an organization functions,this is where frameworks come in the picture, some would use the guidance from ITIL®, others would draw bits from some other framework like CoBIT®, while still others can have their own way of doing IT service management which might be called just about anything.

The Chicken

What if we went to a restaurant and ordered chicken? Chicken can be prepared in a number of ways – Mughlai, Tandoori, Chinese and what not.While ITSM is the chicken, ITIL® is one way of cooking the chicken.

Image source: by Matt Davis, at flickr (CC 2.0)