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Metamorphosis of ITIL®

Today many ITSM experts have many complaints and concerns with ITIL framework:

  • Some say ITIL® is not feasible because of its complexity,
  • Some say ITIL® involves humungous costs and resources,
  • Some say ITIL® has too much of redundancy,
  • Some say ITIL® doesn’t mention guidance on implementation,
  • Some say ITIL® cannot be implemented,
  • And many more complaints

In my opinion, I would call it as the best, ever produced best practice for ITSM. Hence I am trying to give a glimpse of ITIL®’s pioneering metamorphosis and its extraordinary impact on today’s IT.

Metamorphosis of ITIL®

ITIL® (Information Technology Infrastructure Library), a collection of ITSM best practices which has been developed in 1989 with more than 30 volumes of books developed by CCTA (Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency), which got merged with OGC (Office of Government Commerce) and now a product of Axelos Best Practices.

From the inception of ITIL®, there has been a great revolutionary metamorphosis, ITIL® always focused on defining effective ITSM processes (for the management of IT services), continuous improvement and user friendliness; Initially it was more than 30 books addressing different ITSM processes, which were very complex and inaccessible for individuals.

Understanding the humungous data in 30 volumes of books, ITIL® was redefined and was made accessible through the instance ITIL® v2 (in 2001) as 8 books.

1. Service Support

This book had 1 function and 5 processes, providing detailed direction for operational activities like service desk, incident management, problem management, change management, release management, and configuration management.

2. Service Delivery

This book had 5 processes, providing detailed direction for long term and strategic activities like service level management, financial management, availability management, capacity management, and IT service continuity management.

3. ITIL® Small scale implementation

This book was released in 2006, providing clear guidelines for smaller IT organizations.

4. Planning to implement IT service management

This book provided guidelines and approach for implementing ITSM processes with continuous improvement initiative.

5. Application management

This book provided detailed guidance for the development of applications or IT software focusing on all important activities like requirements development, design, development, testing, delivery and support related activities.

6. Security Management

This book provided detailed guidance on information security aspects for all assets in the infrastructure with plans, policies and etc.

7. Software asset management

This book provided detailed guidance on the management of software assets addressing the complete lifecycle of software assets right from purchasing, stocking, tracking, entitling, monitoring and renewals.

8. ICT (Information and Communication Technology) infrastructure management

This book provided detailed guidance on all ICT activities with the help of ICT design and planning, ICT deployment management, ICT operations management, and ICT technical support.

But most of the stakeholders (Organizations, individuals and etc) had their complete attention on the books Service Support and Service Delivery (as they were the most important and foundational ITSM processes and functions), hence the other books were mostly or completely ignored (which also had great knowledge indeed).

Realizing the miss and understanding the increasing demand, expectations and requirements, ITIL® was again redefined and restructured through the instance ITIL® v3 in 2007.

ITIL® v3 (2007) came up with a very organized, effective, efficient, understandable, user friendly, life cycle based approach, which was segregated into 5 stages as Service Strategy, Service Design, Service Transition, Service Operations, and Continual Service Improvement. (It had 28 processes and 4 functions)


This instance was the most appreciated and well recognized version by all stakeholders (organizations, educational institutions, partners, individuals and etc)

Recently in ITIL® 2011, there were again many improvements in terms of clarity in concepts, providing more examples and guidance on many processes and functions. It came up with new process “Design coordination” in Service Design stage (to simplify the service design activities) and also restructured CSI process.

With all these numerous improvements on these humungous practices, yet many of us have many complaints. Now, let’s analyze the common complaints:

Complaint: ITIL® is not feasible because of its complexity, and involves humungous costs and resources

My opinion: ITIL® is a collection of best practices designed to deliver efficient, effective IT services for IT conglomerates (aiming at complete customer satisfaction).

Nevertheless, ITIL® mentions that these best practices is not only for conglomerates but can be implemented even in smaller and medium sized organizations by customization (as per organization’s budget, scope of work, and number of human resources) to fulfill the requirements.

That is why, ITIL® elucidates that it is a collection of best practices (fit for all audiences, which can be customized as per the requirements) and it is not a standard.

Complaint: Some say ITIL® has too much of redundancy

My opinion: As mentioned earlier, ITIL® is a collection of best practices designed to meet the needs of IT conglomerates. And when a SSB (Small scale business) and MSB (Medium scaled business) looks at the best practices, they would obviously feel it’s redundant.

For example: SSB and MSB’s might say that “Transition planning and Support, Change Evaluation, Release and Deployment Management, Service Validation and Testing” are redundant processes and all these activities can be done in single Change Management process. But a world class IT conglomerate, who would have to manage hundreds/ thousands of changes in a month would definitely require “Transition planning and Support, Change Evaluation, Release and Deployment Management, Service Validation and Testing” teams (and teams would require processes), in order to plan, evaluate, release, and test the changes meticulously. These different processes and teams would demarcate the roles and responsibilities eliminating ambiguity, providing precision, and ensuring the change is planned, designed, implemented, tested, deployed and evaluated.

Complaint: Some say ITIL® doesn’t mention guidance on implementation

My opinion: ITIL® cannot mention guidance on implementation because it is a best practice, if it has to define guidance on implementation it will have to come out in numerous flavors (ITIL® for LSB, ITIL® for MSB, ITIL® for SSB, ITIL® for manufacturing industries, ITIL® for banking companies, and etc). And all companies can’t have same goals, priorities, pain points and requirements; hence ITIL® just defines generic best practices for ITSM processes.

Also every individual consultant would have his own style of approach in implementing best practices, as per his experience and skill sets. If you are looking for step by step guidance on implementation, there are many books available. One such book is “PDCA for ITIL” published by TSO.

Complaint: Some say ITIL® cannot be implemented

My opinion: Every consultant knows that ITIL® is a collection of best practices and cannot or shouldn’t be implemented in organizations “as it is” defined in the ITIL® books.

Hence organizations should understand their requirements, goals, pain points and accordingly ITIL® best practices have to applied or implemented. As every organization’s goals, problems, and priorities are unique, so implementing ITIL® processes “as it is” is never a good idea. Indeed it would become waste of time, resources, and costs.

Finally, a nice quote to conclude all the complaints “The better a work is, the more it attracts criticism” – Gustave Flaubert

What’s your opinion about ITIL®’s metamorphosis?

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Author: Kiran Pabbathi (All Rights Reserved by the author).
Source: Original text (based upon first hand knowledge).
Images: image 1 from this source.and image 2 from this source
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