What is Service Management and What is ITIL?

Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) and Service Management for many have become generic terms divorced from their true meanings. ITIL is sometimes regarded as just another optional IT (Information Technology) methodology like ISO 9000 and COBIT. Service Management is often an amorphous concept known to be somehow related to ITIL.

Why should people who work in IT care?

They should care because together, IT and Service Management create the best method for providing maximum customer satisfaction, and for retaining customers rather than have customers search for alternate IT service providers. Unsatisfactory relationships with customers have, in extreme cases, resulted in outsourced IT, which is not a good scenario for either side of the relationship.

Service Management provides a way to define, measure, and improve the services between the customer (who is paying IT for services) and IT (the service provider).  In the past, many in IT viewed themselves as “providers of products”, such as application software or the hardware upon which the
software runs.  Service Management views IT as a provider of services, regardless of the products used.  The importance of the distinction is critical, and illustrates why IT departments sometimes fail to comprehend the services that the customer truly needs. Thinking of IT as a collection of services can be a new way of viewing what the role of IT is in a company.

Cloud computing vs. managing a data center is a clear illustration of the distinction between providing a service and managing a product. A data center is a product and one possible solution.  A cloud computing environment is an alternative solution, but provides generally the same service. The customer doesn’t care if the computing environment is virtual or physical – they just want the best service obtainable for the lowest cost that meet their requirements.  IT departments need to define themselves as services provided to the customer, so that they are free to supply the services with the best solution possible.

ITIL is a decomposition of the processes that comprise an Information Technology organization so that there are no overlaps and no gaps. Among the processes is Service Level Management, which is represented in the agreements between the customer and the service provider. These agreements clearly delineate the service being provided, the service level support, and the associated costs. With expectations and costs documented and agreed upon, there can be little misunderstanding regarding service level requirements. Documentation also provides the bases for periodic reviews, so that customers can decide whether evolve or change services, and whether to increase or decrease funding based on the business needs.

IT organizations that fully embrace service management become indispensable to the business, because they enable the business to maximize their potential.

Larry Taylor

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