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IT has continued to evolve over the years, and today it is at the heart of business processes and performance. The IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) has also had to evolve, expanding from its initial, narrow focus on the management of IT operations to address the broader issues associated with the development and delivery of end-to-end business services.

The newest edition of the ITIL best practices framework arrived on 30 May. A total of five books (Service Strategies, Service Design, Service Transition, Service Operation and Continual Service Improvement) will replace the current books. The new books emphasise not only the operational aspects of IT but additionally, IT service strategies, design, transition and continuous service improvement. They focus on the positioning of the ITIL processes at appropriate, multiple points in the lifecycle of IT services – as well as providing updated guidance for currently implemented ITIL processes.

This third iteration draws upon lessons learned from earlier ITIL efforts and can help IT organisations further improve their efficiency, effectiveness, and alignment with the business. By showing how to graduate from simply implementing individual ITIL processes to adopting a true service-centric approach, ITIL v3 will bring transparency to the relationship between IT and the business, which is ultimately the goal of IT service management.

The new books deliver what was missing from previous versions: more prescriptive guidance including detailed flow charts, process models, and organisation charts for faster and more cost effective implementations. The guidance also incorporates new processes that map to current and forward thinking and practical ITSM implementations incorporating knowledge management, service portfolio management and the service catalogue. Practitioners should keep in mind that the templates are merely guides; each organisation still needs to define its business and IT requirements. If those requirements are not appropriately defined, no version of ITIL will deliver tangible business results.

Organisations adopting ITIL can refine their IT processes and automate tasks to deliver greater efficiencies and cost savings. The best approach to this implementation is to work together with colleagues – from both the business and the IT side – and brainstorm what the business needs and how IT can support those needs. Process models are best derived from modeling your own “as is” processes and analysing them for improvement, so it would be useful to include someone with modeling skills in the session.

The adoption of the Service Support process (including Incident, Problem, Change and Change Configuration Management) is a growing ITIL trend in IT organisations globally. This process looks at the advancement of ITIL implementations through true business metrics, the measurement of IT service levels and more detailed use of self help and knowledge management.

Version three will provide CIOs with the ability to measure the value of ITIL process implementation and the business services delivered using those processes. This, in turn, will enable them to focus on business value, rather than the mechanics of IT and therefore enable IT staff to focus their efforts on actions and behaviors that drive value to the business.

Driven by a proliferation of support, education and tools from vendors, ITIL v3 aims to ease implementations. This guidance helps people understand how to better apply process discipline to their environment, so they can ultimately deliver a higher quality of service at a lower cost to the business.

Ultimately, that’s what IT is for; using technology to automate business processes and allowing people to innovate on top of those processes to deliver a higher-quality service or product. CA has made itself an integral component of that value chain by helping ensure that customers have the tools and processes they need to transform the way they manage IT.

Robert Stroud is the ITSM and IT Governance Evangelist at CA and served on the ITIL Refresh (V3) Advisory Group and is a board member of the itSMF USA.