Since its creation, ITIL has grown to become the most widely accepted approach to IT management in the world. But what exactly is ITIL?

ITIL provides a set of consistent and comprehensive best practice guidance for business and IT service management (ITSM). The guidance is contained within the ITIL publications and the supporting professional qualification scheme. ITIL is flexible and scalable. It is suitable for organizations of all shapes and sizes can implement parts of ITIL to deliver business benefits in stages.

A service is defined as a means of delivering value to customers by facilitating outcomes customers want to achieve, without the ownership of specific costs and risks. The challenge is to deliver services as demand for services changes with business needs. Service providers need to adapt and respond effectively to those needs.

Service management is defined as a set of specialized organizational capabilities for providing value to customers in the form of benefits. These capabilities enable service providers to ensure the production and delivery of quality services that meet the needs of their customers in a timely and cost-effective manner.

What guidance does ITIL provide?

The Official Introduction to the ITIL Service Lifecycle provides an overview of the lifecycle stages contained within the ITIL core.

Practitioners can select complementary publications as needed to support the ITIL core publications. These complementary publications increase the durability and portability of knowledge assets and to protect investments in service management capabilities.

An additional contributor to ITIL's success is the associated training and qualification schemes that provide professional development opportunities for personnel involved in service management.

What are the core ITIL publications?

Each publication addresses capabilities that are required to improve a service provider's performance. The structure of the core is in the form of a lifecycle. Implementing a service lifecycle provides structure, stability and strength to improve the service management capabilities of an organization. The principles, methods and tools provide the foundation for measurement, learning and improvement.

Who uses ITIL?

The ITIL publications are is relevant to organizations involved in the development, delivery or support of services, including:

Service providers, both internal and external

Service providers that want to improve service quality and their interactions with their customers

Organizations that require a consistent managed approach across all service providers in a supply chain or value network

The guidance in ITIL can be adapted for changes of use in various business environments and organizational strategies.


The UK Office of Government Commerce (OGC) owns the ITIL series. The series includes:

l OGC (2007) Service Strategy, TSO ISBN-13: 978-0113310456

l OGC (2007) Service Design, TSO ISBN-13: 978-0113310470

l OGC (2007) Service Transition, TSO ISBN-13: 978-0113310487

l OGC (2007) Service Operation, TSO ISBN-13: 978-0113310463

l OGC (2007) Continual Service Improvement, TSO ISBN-13: 9780113310494

l OGC (2010) Introduction to the ITIL Service Lifecycle, TSO ISBN: 9780113310623