ITIL: It'll Get Fixed in the Next Version

ITIL: It'll Get Fixed in the Next Version

Version 3 of ITIL is a significant improvement of the fundamentals, but will not standardize service management processes

Version 3 of ITIL, scheduled to be released late May 2007, is a significant improvement of the fundamentals. However, we at Hydrasight do not believe that ITIL Version 3 will address the underlying issues associated with enterprise efforts to standardize service management processes.

The release of ITIL Version 3 will be heralded by the publication of five new core texts, plus an official introduction. Based on information currently available, the five core texts will be:

  • Service Strategy - focusing on aligning business and IT and aims to ensure that the Service Lifecycle is focused on customer outcomes;
  • Service Design - providing guidance on the production and maintenance of IT policies, architectures and documents for the design of service solutions and processes;
  • Service Transition - providing guidance and process activities for the transition of services in the operational business environment and covering the broader, long-term change management role, release and deployment practices;
  • Service Operation - detailing delivery and control activities to achieve operational excellence on a day-to-day basis;
  • Continual Service Improvement - focusing on the process elements involved in identifying and introducing service management improvements (and also deals with issues surrounding service retirement).
ITIL Version 3 aims to strengthen the focus on 'business and IT integration' (commonly referred to as business / IT alignment). It also claims to recognize the need for management of IT throughout the complete IT lifecycle - an aspect that we believe was deficient in earlier versions. One of the stated aims of Version 3 is to make a clearer and stronger link between ITIL and business benefits. As such, this potentially represents another improvement over previous versions, which have commonly been associated only with IT operations (namely service delivery and service support). However, we believe current assumptions will continue such that ITIL Version 3 will simply become a more business-aligned IT operations discipline rather than ITO-wide discipline.

In spite of the potential improvements, Hydrasight therefore cautions organizations to recognize that ITIL Version 3 cannot solve many of the underlying problems associated with IT service management. As we have previously stated, our research shows that most organizations have limited organizational recognition that ITIL is a process framework and not a process methodology. Moreover, Hydrasight foresees that the majority of enterprises will continue to 'mix' aspects of ITIL with other process disciplines (e.g., COBIT, Six Sigma, SDLC, ASL, and internally-developed procedures).

This trend lends further support to the realization that a 'one size fits all' approach to IT service management is not possible. This is particularly relevant, and cautionary, given that ITIL remains the most commonly-used (IT operational) process framework and is often assumed to be 'best practice' (with all the associated misconceptions).

Michael Warrilow is managing director of technology-focused research and advisory firm Hydrasight. He is a global authority on enterprise management, having spent 15 years as practitioner, vendor and industry analyst for Woolworths, IBM and META Group

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