ITIL or the Information Technology Infrastructure Library is a set of best practices meant to help your establishment provide customers with the highest quality of IT services. ITIL is used to help your company become more efficient by unifying the processes, people, and technologies involved in your operations.
In the 21st century, it’s incredibly important to ensure that your digital processes are agile, stable, and easily integrated with your services. A server or database going down can spell massive losses for IT-reliant companies, as can unmanaged security risks. If your business can deliver its services with greater security.
ITIL provides the necessary adaptability required for a business to survive in today’s climate. Having a distinct set of practices like ITIL can help your business become more adaptable. ITIL focuses on keeping your business lightweight, flexible, and innovative while providing customer-focused value to your services.
Today, we’ll be looking at what ITIL is, why you need it, as well as some tools to help you take advantage of it.
What Is ITIL?
ITIL is a set of guidelines or a framework designed to assist the delivery of IT service management. While some may see ITIL as a set of standards, it’s simply a guide to the best practices to use. ITIL is a flexible framework, changing significantly over the years to adapt to the ever-evolving world. ITIL consists of five guidance publications, each of which governs a different stage of an IT service’s lifecycle.
ITIL was created by the CCTA, or Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency back in the ‘80s. It has stayed relevant despite being the first ever set of IT performance standards. Later on, ITIL was aligned with the ISO/IEC 20000 Service Management standard. In 2013, ITIL changed ownership to the UK Cabinet Office and Capita as part of a joint venture named Axelos. Axelos provides businesses with the licensing needed to use ITIL. However, if a business is only using ITIL internally, they don’t need a license.
Recently, ITIL has evolved further, straying from its origins as a set of standards, and becoming more of a collection of best practices to implement.
While many confuse ITIL with ITSM or IT Service Management, the two are fundamentally distinct. ITSM relates to the way businesses manage, create, design, and deliver their IT services. ITIL, on the other hand, is a framework outlining how these services are to be managed within the business. This means that ITIL excels when used alongside ITSM processes to help integrate them with the business’ business strategy as a whole.
ITIL Processes And Segmentation
In older ITIL versions, ITIL outlined a set of processes that you needed to follow to successfully implement it. However, the newest version of ITIL uses 34 different practices within its SVS or service value system. The SVS is defined as:
“How all the components and activities of the organization work together as a system to enable value creation”.
The guide also states: “Each organization’s SVS has interfaces with other organizations, forming an ecosystem that can, in turn, facilitate value for those organizations, their customers, and other stakeholders”.
ITIL is a user-focused set of principles aiming to provide a holistic approach to IT development. It ensures that IT processes and designs integrate well into your business structure and its needs instead of separate silos where IT teams work by themselves without a coherent place within the business itself.
The SVS itself is made up of five main components:
- The ITIL Guiding Principles
- Continual Improvement
- The Service Value Chain
From there on, the components themselves are split into different kinds. ITIL practices, for example, consist of general management, technical management, and service management practices.
ITIL’s value chain is also split into six easily digestible parts:
- Design & Transition
- Delivery and Support
ITIL used to include what was known as the 4 P’s of Service Design. These were Partners, Processes, Products, and People. Today, ITIL uses four dimensions instead to represent these terms, as well as make them more easily linked with its value chain.
These four dimensions are:
- Organizations and People
- Partners and Suppliers
- Value Streams and Processes
- Information and Technology
All of these practices together help your IT team as well as service delivery. Organizing your business’ IT services with an ITIL framework helps spread tasks, responsibilities, and roles in the most efficient and productive ways for the whole team.
Following ITIL guidelines help you manage and troubleshoot any issues that crop up in your business. You can also ensure that when incidents inevitably happen, they don’t leave your business thousands of dollars in the red. Minimization of incident impact makes for a much more productive and stable work environment.
Of course, one of the biggest benefits of ITIL is ensuring agile, flexible delivery of services. This helps you keep your business on top of the latest trends, practices, and technologies within the industry. Ideally, this will result in a greatly streamlined and improved service delivery system, increasing customer satisfaction. Naturally, streamlining also leads to cost reductions across the board and provides you with greater insights into your service delivery process. This lets you assess risk with more certainty.
How Should ITIL Be Put Into Practice?
To put ITIL into practice within your business, you’ll first need a solid grasp of all of the practices outlined above. Naturally, you’ll also need your employees and management interested in implementing the practices. Thankfully, there’s a variety of different certification services your business can take advantage of to ensure your teams’ understanding of ITIL and its implementation is up to par.
ITIL 3, the previous version of ITIL is split into five levels:
ITIL 4 further streamlines these five levels into just the ITIL Foundation and ITIL Master. However, there are now two different paths one can take in the ITIL Foundation course. These are the MP(Managing Professional) and SL(Strategic Leader) paths. MP is intended for IT professionals as well as digital teams outside of a tech-focused organization, rather than IT departments. Ideally, this path will be taken by the people that need to manage and run projects as well as deal with complex workflows and interdisciplinary teams.
The ITIL SL path is made for those that work in digitally-enabled services, rather than those in the nitty-gritty of IT ops. Individuals that work on digital strategy, or oftentimes contact IT teams. The focus in this path is on how business strategy and tech interact with each other, as well as how IT teams and services can best work together with business practices. Both SL and MP can take you to the ITIL Master exam, and if you pass it you’ll be awarded the highest certification in the ITIL ecosystem.
As cloud computing and big data gather more and more support among businesses, having a clear approach to how you handle your data is a crucial element to your success. ITIL helps you integrate reporting, risk management, and multi-department communication into one cohesive whole.
With that being said, ITIL can be difficult to properly implement without relying on tools. Even if you think your business can implement ITIL “manually,” it’s still useful to automate certain parts of the ITIL process.
The Best ITIL Tools
1. SolarWinds Service Desk – FREE TRIAL
The SolarWinds Service Desk is one of the best ITIL tools out there. It’s a cloud-based service desk tool written to up-to-date ITIL standards. This tool gives you a central contact point for all of your helpdesk needs, in addition to a variety of asset management features.
- Entirely cloud-based
- Made for MSPs following ITIL standards
- Automated workflow capabilities let you prioritize different tickets based on SLAs or your own rules
- Constantly scans your endpoints for threats
- Risk Management module
- Excellent scalability
- Flexible pricing model
- Great UI
- Integrates with over 200 3rd party applications
SolarWinds makes a variety of IT solutions ranging from service desks to network monitors. If you’re already using one of these, then the service desk is probably your best bet, as it integrates seamlessly with the rest of the SolarWinds suite.
This help desk has a variety of utilities packed within it, including an automated ticketing system that lets you input when your technicians and operators are available. Then, the tool will output a task allocation workflow to distribute their work in the most efficient manner possible. There’s also a task tracker that ensures all calls are responded to and the caller’s issues solved.
Its self-service portal and knowledge base creation abilities let you minimize the number of simple issues your customers will have to call you for. It also features configuration, change, release, and service level management capabilities. You can also make benchmarks for your business’ IT performance.
SolarWinds features a Risk Detection module. The Risk Detection module works by always tracking all of your configurations and software, and comparing them to threat databases and public statistics to point out risks. It also monitors all of your AV software and their threat databases, so that you can always keep yourself updated on the latest security trends. Finally, the tool has impressive reporting features that will help keep all of your teams on the same page.
With that being said, the tool’s search function isn’t quite as polished as it could be, and it can be a bit difficult to use for non-technical users. The SolarWinds Service Desk is a subscription service and has three different packages: Team, Business, and Professional. To get the most out of it in a large enterprise, you’ll want the Professional package. The tool offers a 30-day free trial.
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2. ManageEngine ServiceDesk Plus
The ManageEngine ServiceDesk Plus fulfills the ITIL Service Operation requirements. This means it’ll help you deal with change requests, service-level management, keeping licenses up to date, managing availability and configurations, as well as a variety of other issues that often crop up when implementing ITIL.
- Simple to use reporting capabilities
- Cross-platform support
- Available as a cloud-based service to streamline onboarding
- Holistic service desk approach
- Automatic asset discovery
Every part of ITIL Service Desk tasks is handled by this tool, as long as you get the highest subscription level. There are three different versions of this tool- Standard, Enterprise, and Professional. Its Standard package provides the Help Desk system as well as the SLA package. The Professional package gives you IT asset discovery, contract, and software asset management capabilities. The Enterprise package provides the entire ITIL Service Desk experience. This gives you project, configuration, and change management features alongside the features present in the Professional and Standard editions.
The ManageEngine ServiceDesk Plus provides a holistic way to manage client contracts, maintenance requests, as well as other services an MSP would offer. Its automated asset discovery systems help NOC teams stay on top of network additions and the state of your network.
The tool is also excellent if your business works with multiple OSs, as it works with both Windows and Linux server distributions.
With that being said, the tool does lack a bit of customization, with its ticket templates and reports being a hassle to customize. You can try the tool out by requesting a demo.
Freshservice is a cloud-based management software made by ITIL principles. The tool is made for both in-house and MSP use. Freshservice is modular software and has 4 different editions. To align with ITIL, you’ll need to purchase the Enterprise edition. All 4 of these editions have all of the front-end channels your business will need to handle customer contacts.
- Entirely cloud-based
- One of the best user interfaces on the market
- The simple ticket creation process
- Automates tedious tasks
Freshservice has an excellent user self-service portal backed by a knowledge base and ticketing system. You can either create tickets through a form or by email. Your end-users will be able to make tickets either directly through an on-portal form or by contacting you via email. Your helpdesk staff can also make tickets when they’re dealing with customers by phone, email, or in person.
Its ticketing system tracks progress made on each issue and has work allocation capabilities. You can set up custom parameters for ticket prioritization, or let its automated systems do the work for you. All of the features you need for ITIL Service Operations Incident Management are present in the tool. You can refine the management functions through a service level agreement screen, letting you set up priorities by the SLA.
You can automate a variety of tasks with the tool. You can automate approvals to close tickets, categorize problems, and communicate receipt confirmations. The tool also contains an internal chat system that lets your support team communicate.
With that being said, integrating Freshservice with other ITSM tools can be a bit difficult, however, this can be worth it given its vast array of automation features. The tool offers a three-week-long free trial.
ITIL is crucial to the success of many digital-first businesses, and the framework helps you organize and grasp your approach to IT management. ITIL helps unify the capacities of your IT team’s needs with your business practices, structures, and customer expectations while ensuring high-quality delivery.
With that being said, ITIL can be difficult to put into practice without using tools to make it easier. Thankfully, there are many tools out there that can help you implement the ITIL framework and reap its benefits. When it comes to selecting these tools, you should first look at your needs. All three are great solutions and will ensure your business follows ITIL standards, however, some will be better suited for your business than others.
If you’re already using multiple SolarWinds tools, or simply require an advanced and scalable service desk solution, the SolarWinds Service Desk is the tool for you. If you’re looking for a holistic service desk approach with both cloud and on-prem installations, you’ll be best off with the ManageEngine ServiceDesk Plus. Finally, if you’re looking for ease of use and automation features, Freshservice might give you the most bang for your buck.