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While ITIL has been around for approximately 30 years, there is still much to learn about the best practices for Service Management.  In this article, we answer many of the common questions that people ask, starting off with the basics of ITIL and progressing to more advanced questions. By the end of this article, you will know the ins and outs of ITIL!

What is ITIL?

ITIL is the most popular set of best practices used to facilitate service management.

What does ITIL stand for?

ITIL stands for Information Technology Infrastructure Library.  However, with ITIL now being a broad framework that can be applied to a wide range of service organizations beyond solely IT, “ITIL” is no longer an acronym and has become a term to describe the best practices framework.

Who owns ITIL?

Axelos is responsible for developing, enhancing, and promoting a number of best practice frameworks and methodologies used globally by professionals working primarily in IT service management…” and is the governing body who owns and is responsible for ITIL. Axelos was recently acquired by PeopleCert but continues its charter to develop and promote best practices.

Where did ITIL originate?

ITIL originated as an effort by the United Kingdom’s government to establish best practices to manage their IT infrastructure.

What is the history of ITIL?

ITIL was developed by the UK government’s Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency (CCTA) during the 1980s to codify service management best practices in response to government agencies and private organizations creating their own processes. By the end of the 1980s, there were 30 books in the Information Technology Infrastructure Library.

By 2001 ITIL had released ITIL V2 which consolidated the library into nine volumes including two (Service Support and Service Delivery) which were most widely used and circulated.

In 2007 ITIL released ITIL V3 made up of five core publications which formed the ITIL Service Lifecycle: Service Strategy, Service Design, Service Transition, Service Operation, and Continual Service Improvement.  ITIL V3 was updated in 2011 based on feedback from the growing number of practitioners based on implementations around the world.

In 2019 AXELOS published ITIL 4 which maintains the focus on Service Management while incorporating the latest trends and technologies and supporting organizations undergoing digital transformations throughout their business.

What are ITIL’s Guiding Principles?

ITIL identifies seven guiding principles that should be considered in all circumstances:

  • Focus on value
  • Start where you are
  • Progress iteratively with feedback
  • Collaborate and promote visibility
  • Think and work holistically
  • Keep it simple and practical
  • Optimize and automate

What is the difference between ITSM and ITIL?

ITSM is the abbreviation used to represent Information Technology Service Management and is the concept of an IT Organization operating as a service provider to its consumers (usually its company employees and associates).  ITSM is also used by external service providers to administer the delivery of IT Services to their external customers. ITIL represents a set of proven best practices to adopt an IT Service Management approach.

What is ESM? 

ESM stands for Enterprise Service Management.  Enterprise Service Management refers to the application of Service Management best practices to organizations outside of the traditional IT organization.  Organizations such as Human Resources, Finance, Legal, and Facilities can use many of the same best practices to formalize their services to the organizations they support.

Are ITSM and Service Management the same thing?

IT Service Management refers to the application of service management best practices by the IT organization, while Service Management refers to the generic application of the best practices to any services organization.  Although the term originated as ITSM, Service Management is the current popular use especially since Service Management frequently is used outside the IT organization and IT Service Suppliers.  ESM also falls within this. 

ESM applies to Service organizations within the Enterprise and can be included in the broader Service Management term.

Which ITIL concept describes Governance?

The ITIL Service Value System (SVS) describes Organizational governance as a system by which an organization is directed and controlled. Governance defines the common goals and directions, policies, and rules that the Organization uses to deliver and maintain its services.

Who issues ITIL certifications?

Axelos, now part of PeopleCert, licenses organizations to use the ITIL intellectual property, certifies curriculums, and accredits training organizations as well as manages and updates the training and certification scheme. PeopleCert is the organization that facilitates exams and issues ITIL Certifications.

Who uses ITIL?

ITIL is used by organizations of all sizes throughout the world. Traditionally, ITIL was leveraged by IT organizations to adopt a service-focused approach to service delivery. ITIL has matured over the years and now is the best practice for all service organizations to leverage to guide their organizations in creating value for their consumers.

How much do ITIL Certifications cost?

ITIL Foundation Certification costs about $400 for the exam, Specialist Certifications about $500 and Leader Certification $625.

While you can do self-study, it is highly recommended that you take courses with certified education partners learning not only from the instructors but also the experiences of others in class.

How many ITIL Practices are there?

There are 34 ITIL Practices defined in ITIL 4 grouped as: General Management Practices, Service Management Practices, or Technical Management Practices.

Which ITIL concept describes Practices?

In the ITIL Service Value System (SVS), a Practice is defined as “a set of organizational resources designed for performing work or accomplishing an objective.”

Practices include the Four Dimensions (Organizations and people, information and technology, partners and suppliers, and value streams and processes).

How do we Implement ITIL?

To implement ITIL, or as we prefer to say “adopt ITIL”, use ITIL’s Guiding Principle “Start where you are” to identify what you already have in place in terms of Governance, process, roles, etc. An ITIL Maturity Assessment can help identify your current maturity and capability level and identify focus areas and approach to ITIL improvement / implementation.

Can ITIL and DevOps be used together?

ITIL and DevOps can complement each other and are not – as is often thought – competing approaches.  ITIL is focused on Service Management quality and consistency in delivering value. DevOps is focused on software development and delivery through Continuous Integration and Continual Delivery. DevOps is geared around faster turnaround time and quicker access to new features and capabilities while introducing risk.


We hope that you now know all the ins and outs of ITIL. Do you have an ITIL question that we haven’t answered here? Don’t be afraid to ask it! Feel free to email us at [email protected] or schedule time to talk to one of our experts if you would like more information on ITIL.