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By Samantha Allen
15 Oct 2018

What is ITIL Foundation - and why your business needs it

If you’ve ever had to manage or fix a technical issue, release or update a service, or negotiate a service agreement, you’ve probably used ITIL. The fundamentals of service management start with ITIL and it’s the most widely accepted best practice framework in the world. It’s used 24/7 by the majority of organisations, including some of the most high-profile organizations in the world such as HSBC, IBM and even NASA. But it’s just as useful for small businesses too.

You may be familiar with the term ITIL or you may want to understand it more. Perhaps you’re wondering how to ensure you’re using it properly in your business and receiving  the benefits from it. If you read on we’re going to help you understand the foundation of ITIL, why your business really needs it, and how to get accredited.

So what exactly is ITIL?

ITIL is short for Information Technology Infrastructure Library. It’s designed to help businesses manage risks, strengthen customer relations, establish cost-effective practices and build stable IT environments. It’s a set of best practices for creating and improving an IT Service Management (ITSM) process.

Originally released as a series of books, ITIL was created in the 1980s to standardise and improve the quality of IT service provided, initially for the British government. Large companies and other government agencies adopted the framework very quickly and it soon spread across the world. As it grew in popularity, IT itself changed and evolved. ITIL adapted alongside these changes, and now emphasises integrating IT with business strategy.

What began as 5 core books has now evolved into the core modules that are taught online or through face to face training. The ITIL core volumes are split into the following areas:

Service Strategy

The planning and getting ready that the service provider must do to deliver services that meet business needs.

Service Design

The design of everything required to deliver and manage a service

Service Transition

Introducing, changing and retiring services

Service Operation

Where the service desk and its activities sit

Continual Service Improvement

Keeping up with changing business needs or optimising operational activities, adapting and improving continuously.

How is ITIL different to ITSM?

IT Service Management (ITSM) refers to all the activities involved in designing, creating, delivering, supporting and managing the lifecycle of IT services. Understanding the difference between ITSM and ITIL is important.

If you’re primarily focussed on IT infrastructure then ITSM will serve you well, but if you also want to consider business goals and align your IT infrastructure with your business strategy, ITIL is the perfect solution.

ITIL is the most commonly used ITSM framework, but it’s just one of the ways of doing IT Service Management. The easiest way to describe the difference is to think of apples and fruit. An apple is a fruit but not all fruit are apples. So ITIL is ITSM but not all ITSM is ITIL. A company could be using ITSM but not using ITIL. They may not be using a recognised ITSM framework, or they could be using other frameworks such as COBIT or ISO 20000.

How can an ITIL Certification Help my Business?

The worlds of business and technology are now unavoidably connected, and it’s hard to picture one without the other. Virtually every industry in the world now relies on IT in one form or another, and companies must adapt and evolve to stay competitive. ITIL enables you to adapt IT service infrastructures with an awareness of current business processes and also prepare for further changes in the future.

ITIL will save you money - reduce your IT costs. ITIL has been designed to increase productivity, optimize costs and improve customer experience.

Make your customers happier - provide an improved quality of service and customer satisfaction. It’s the focus on the customer which makes ITIL the core around which other frameworks can work effectively.

Advantage over competitors - gain increased agility and flexibility. Every good service can always be better. ITIL encourages a culture of continual service improvement to deal with common challenges. When changes to technology or business practices leave you vulnerable, you can adapt quickly and stay on top of your competition.

Reduce risks - recovering and avoiding disaster is easier.

Without ITIL you’re more likely to waste time, money and resources. Other ITSM processes may not be aligned with your business goals or put emphasis on the customer and continual improvement. The main strength of ITIL lies in its versatility. It’s scalable and flexible, allowing you to take on as much or as little of the practices as you like. ITIL can even be adapted to work in conjunction with other practices, including COBIT, Six Sigma and TOGAF.

How can I get ITIL foundation certification?

Because ITIL is not built around a specific business model but based on the collective experience of IT professionals, the foundation level course is accessible to anyone in business, regardless of industry type or size.

The ITIL Foundation Training course is the starting point for professionals looking to gain certification in this very popular accreditation. We offer this as a 3 day course which is delivered at a wide choice of locations in person or through the comfort of your computer screen.

We also deliver ITIL certified training onsite at customer locations across the UK and throughout Europe. So if you are considering running ITIL foundation training in-house then please get in touch with our friendly team.

Beyond foundation level

If you’re looking for training beyond foundation level you can browse the full range of ITIL courses HERE.