History of ITIL

In the mid-1980's, the British Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency (CCTA, now known as the Office of Government Commerce or OGC) initiated a project to look at best IT practices. It created a series of white papers, and subsequently books, that described best practices for key processes required to provide IT services. This collection of documents was called the Information Technology Infrastructure Library or ITIL. In 1999 - 2000, the collection of white papers was turned into a series of 7 books. An eigth book was later added that covered security.

In May of 2007, the British Office of Government and Commerce (OGC) completed a major update to the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL).  The update became known as ITIL Version 3 (ITIL v3).  The initial adoption of ITIL v3 was very slow because the OGC and its partners were not able to provide the necessary support and it represented a major shift in the well-established methodologies of ITIL v2.  While still being process focused, it adopted a lifecycle approach to service management.  It took the OGC and it’s partners until late 2009 to fully complete the roll-out of ITIL v3 and it’s associated certifications.

One of the major differences between ITIL v2 and ITIL v3 is that ITIL v3 takes a lifecycle approach to service management.  While ITIL v2 looked at service management processes as either tactical or operational (Service Delivery or Service Support), ITIL v3 looks at the service management lifecycle and divides it into Strategy, Design, Transition and Operational each with a set of processes that support the lifecycle objectives.  It also adds Continual Service Improvement to the lifecycle to ensure that lifecycle stages and processes are regularly evaluated and improvements made.

A subsequent update and refinement to ITIL was undertaken and released in 2011 and became known as ITIL 2011.

In 2013, the OGC entered into a joint venture agreement with Capita plc and formed a joint venture company called Axelos to oversee the further development of ITIL. In Febrary 2019, Axelos released the latest version - ITIL 4.


ITIL 4 takes a new approach to service management. Leaving behind the service lifecycle of ITIL v3, ITIL 4 focuses on the Service Value System (SVS). ITIL 4 puts an emphasis on the business and technology world, how it works today, and how it will work in the future with Agile, DevOps and digital transformation. The key elements of ITIL 4 are the Four Dimensions of Service Managment and the Service Value System which includes Guiding Principles, Governance, the Service Value Chain, Continual Improvement, and Best Practices. Each element helps an organization take a holistic approach to the co-creation of value through service relationships.


The Four Dimensions of Service Management

The Four Dimensions are similar to the 4P's of Service Design in ITIL 2011 (People, Process, Products and Partners) and represent a holistic approach necessary for service management to create value. The four dimensions are:

  • Organizations and People
  • Information and Technology
  • Partners and Suppliers
  • Value Streams and Processes


The Service Value System

The Service Value System (SVS)  is the heart of ITIL 4. It shows how the various aspets and activities of the organization work together as a system to create value. The SVS has five components:

  • Guiding Principles
  • Governance
  • Service Value Chain
  • Practices
  • Continual improvement


Guiding Principles

The guiding principles represent universal guides an organizations uses to support actions and decisions.

  1. Focus on Value
  2. Start where you are
  3. Progress interatively with feedback
  4. Collaborate and promote visibility
  5. Think and work holistically
  6. Keep it simple and practical
  7. Optimze and automate


Best Practices

The most basic definition of ITIL has always been a framework of best practices for Service Management. However, a heavy emphasis of the previous ITIL releases was on process. ITIL 4 shifts the focus to practices supported by process. The practices support the creation of value and are an integral component of the Service Value System.

There are 34 practices grouped into three categoris - General Management Practices, Service Management Practicies and Technical Management Practices. The practices support the activities of the service value chain and represent organizational resources and capabilities designed to accomplish specific types of work.


ITIL 4 Best Practices
General Service Management Technical

Architecture Management „ 

Continual Improvement „ 

Information Security Management „ 

Knowledge Management „ 

Measurement and Reporting „ 

Organizational Change Management „ 

Portfolio Management „ 

Project Management „ 

Relationship Management „ 

Risk Management „ 

Service Financial Management „ 

Strategy Management „ 

Supplier Management „ 

Workforce and Talent Management

Availability Management „ 

Business Analysis „ 

Capacity and Performance Management „ 

Change Enablement „ 

Incident Management „ 

IT Asset Management „ 

Monitoring and Event Management „ 

Problem Management „

Release Management „ 

Service Catalogue Management „ 

Service Configuration Management „ 

Service Continuity Management „ 

Service Design „ 

Service Desk „ 

Service Level Management „ 

Service Request Management „ 

Service Validation and Testing 

Deployment Management „ 

Infrastructure and Platform Management „ 

Software Development and Management