ITSM 101: 3 Things You Need to Know About ITIL

The IT Infrastructure Library has long been a central component of enterprise IT service management strategies. Organizations working to develop mature, stable and resilient IT capabilities can use ITIL as a guide to help them optimize their processes and create a series of checks and balances to make sure the right people have approval power for different operations. All told, ITIL has long served as the de facto framework for enterprise ITSM, and chances are it is impacting your decisions now.

ITIL is not without its detractors. While just about every ITSM organization is using ITIL in some way, many people have come to think of the framework as too rigid and unyielding for contemporary technology requirements. This has led more organizations to carefully evaluate the degree to which they stick to ITIL's guidelines. Whether you choose to go all in on ITIL or to use it sparingly, there are a few things you should understand about it:

1. ITIL is not a Regulatory Document
There is nothing within ITIL compelling you to follow every component of the framework as if it were a regulatory document. This isn't HIPAA or PCI DSS, it is instead a resource that you can use to guide your service management strategies. For a long time, businesses took ITIL so seriously that they started to make claims about being fully ITIL-compliant. While ITIL isn't a regulatory document, there can be stability and internal knowledge benefits that come with going all in. However, the nature of ITIL makes it possible for organizations to pick and choose how they want to implement the framework. If you move beyond thinking of ITIL as a set of regulations, you can free yourself to use it when it makes sense, and adjust your strategies for when it doesn't.

2. ITIL is Changing
ITIL is a living reference library to help organizations develop advanced ITSM functionality. It is not set in stone, and after a fairly long period in which ITIL was not changed in any significant way, the group governing ITIL is working to update some of the guidelines within the library to make them fit better in line with contemporary IT requirements. Businesses increasingly need flexible, adaptable and responsive IT functionality, and ITIL has long been built around stability as such a foundational element of operations that it was not initially designed to deal with businesses requiring more flexibility - that is beginning to change.

The key operations frameworks established in ITIL are almost continually being revised to some degree to meet business' needs, and organizations that take advantage of ITIL join a community devoted to continual improvement.

3. ITIL is Increasingly a Launching Point
For a long time, ITIL was considered the end-to-end guide for ITSM operations. Businesses are starting to look at ITIL as a foundational guide that serves as a launching point for more customized ITSM operations within an organization. Taking this more flexible approach to implementing ITIL enables organizations to establish a flexible, adaptable and responsive process framework that fits closely with the specific needs of their business. As such, organizations can take advantage of the inherent stability of ITIL when establishing the core capabilities of their ITSM teams, but not get pinned down in rigid operations down the line.

As its name states, ITIL really is a library. It's a collection of resources that you can delve into until you understand the nuances of how ITSM operations work, and then pick and choose how you want to take pre-determined best practices and put them into place within your organization.

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