Version 3 of the Information Technology Infrastructure Library was officially released on 30 May, and from what I have seen, it takes a giant step towards elevating the importance of ITIL from a business standpoint.
In previous versions of ITIL, the focus was on enhancing IT performance through best practice frameworks in specific processes such as configuration management, change management, incident management, problem management and others.
While enhancing IT performance is still a fundamental component of Version 3, the focus of the framework is now on how IT services the business.
An example of this difference can be shown with remote access, which is a service provided by IT that consists of a variety of components, some of which can occasionally be “operationally available” but don’t really provide the needed service.
Monthly IT operational reports could show that all the components were 100% available while the remote access service was actually down for 72 hours due to a corrupted routing table in a switch.
Nothing degrades the business value of IT more than reporting 100% operational uptime to a group of senior leaders who were unable to access the company intranet remotely. You can be sure one of them will say: “IT just doesn’t get it.” ITIL Version 3 attempts to resolve this situation by putting more focus on the service aspects of IT and the overall value they bring to the business.
In addition to moving the focus from processes to service, ITIL Version 3 facilitates its adoption rate by providing more implementation guidance. As a framework, ITIL does not provide specific steps on how to do a process. ITIL was purposely set up to be modified, moulded and shaped as needed to meet specific business requirements. However, this has been a downside to adoption as many IT managers want — or need — more concrete guidance on how to implement the framework.
ITIL Version 3 strives to bridge the gap between a pure framework and a procedural operations manual by providing guidelines on how to implement the core framework components. For example, in ITIL Version 2, a service catalogue was recommended for service-level management; however, very few guidelines were given on what should be in the catalogue and how it should be developed.
Having been previously asked to develop a service catalogue, I searched the internet for information on what it consisted of and found everything from one-page summary sheets to detailed spreadsheets to multiple-page documents. In ITIL Version 3, more information is provided on what a service catalogue is, what should be in it and the business value it can bring to a company.
But even with these enhancements, ITIL is not a panacea. It is not self-implementing and when implemented, it will not solve all IT issues. However, ITIL Version 3 appears to have the potential to establish a usable framework that shifts the focus of IT from operational metrics to delivering IT services, which should enhance the business value of IT.