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What is the ITIL® Process?

Darlene Goodman
Darlene Goodman

The Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL®) process, also called the service lifecycle, is a best practices system for improving IT management and service. It is geared toward helping IT managers and practitioners produce quality IT services. ITIL® is a registered trade mark of the Office of Government Commerce (OGC) in the United Kingdom and other countries.

The ITIL® process, as outlined in ITIL® Version 3, involves five facets of IT management. It begins with a core Service Strategy. Branching out of the core are Service Design, Service Transition, and Service Operation. Finally, the whole cycle is maintained by Continual Service Improvement.

ITIL service helpdesks provide a single point of contact for users.
ITIL service helpdesks provide a single point of contact for users.

The first facet of the ITIL® process is Service Strategy. This section concentrates on clarification and prioritization of IT services, resources, and market needs. It teaches IT managers how to research the current needs of the market, their businesses, and their IT service departments to create a long term strategic plan.

The Service Design section of the ITIL® process focuses on both the people and the technology involved in providing IT services. This section teaches IT managers how best to identify and make use of staff skills and job functions, computers and software, and business resources. The managers should then be able to create a Service Design Package that details all aspects of the IT services they will provide and how these services will affect businesses and customers.

Service Transition refers to the need to implement the new long term plans outlined in the design package in the existing business framework. This section of the ITIL® process discusses how to modify the old ways of doing business to start working within the new design. This section also covers how IT managers can stay flexible when facing new and ever changing IT technologies and services.

Service Operation is where the IT plans and designs are carried out with businesses and customers. It emphasizes operations management and the service desk. This section of the ITIL® process shows IT managers how to run the day-to-day production and delivery of IT services.

Like Service Strategy, Continual Service Improvement (CSI) influences all the others. CSI gives IT managers the tools to monitor, evaluate, and improve their services over time. The section emphasizes that the new plans, designs, and operations of today become outdated very quickly in the IT service industry. CSI teaches IT managers to stay vigilant in their provision of effective, efficient, and quality IT services.

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Discussion Comments


@miriam98 - I don’t know much about ITIL. I understand that it originated in the UK and only lately has been adopted in other countries.

I am, however, interested in the software process, particularly things like agile development, so that we can get products out the door faster.

My boss asked me to look into different processes (in addition to agile) to improve our time to market for our software products; I may give ITIL a look.


Mammmood - I don't know, I think the improvement process is the most important component. It allows you to continually reassess your existing processes so that you allocate your resources wisely. In the end I think you save money and identify the areas where your company can be more efficient.


@David09 - I think that the most important part of the ITIL framework is the part that focuses on management process, and I think that this has some relation to how you’ve been using your process software at work.

With management process. you identify what went wrong and why. In the case of support, you look at the root cause of the incidents, and then try to make corrections so that you can reduce your support calls for those kinds of incidents in the future.

I realize that there are things outside of the ITIL process you can use to give you similar results. You can keep a spreadsheet or ticketing system that will identify the nature of the support call and provide you with statistics like first call resolution, second call resolution, etc.

But in management process you also focus on prevention. We've been using it, for example, to better educate our customers so as to reduce support calls.


I started out learning the ITIL process at work and since then have been intrigued by not only its implementation as a service framework, but also by process analysis in general.

There is a new business model out for process modeling and it's called Business Process Modeling Notation. Without getting into all the details, BPMN is a notational language, kind of like the HTML of business process modeling.

Basically it’s a way of using symbols to model processes that businesses use, and it’s common in software and engineering settings in particular. The business process centers around different tasks that apply to different parts of the ITIL framework; for example, the tasks involved in service and support.

I’ve been using a business process modeling software program at work to generate various business models of our support team incident procedures so we can better understand and refine our procedures.

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    • ITIL service helpdesks provide a single point of contact for users.
      By: George Dolgikh
      ITIL service helpdesks provide a single point of contact for users.