Is migrating to ITIL v3 worth it?

It is almost a year since the launch of ITIL v3 and confusion still reigns about which version is best suited to an organisation.


Since its in 1989 inception, the Best Practice IT framework ITIL (IT Infrastructure Library) has made a significant impact on a vast community of service management practitioners across the globe.

It's now the most widely applied framework for the delivery of high-quality IT services.

In May 2007, ITIL took important strides towards increasing the alignment of IT and the business with the launch of its third incarnation, ITIL v3. The new version provides guidelines for service management across the full life cycle of a service – from planning, implementation and day-to-day operation to service improvement and eventually retirement.

This new context enables the IT department to increase its value to the business and reach service-level agreement (SLA) goals.

However, as more businesses decide to adopt ITIL, it is becoming apparent that many are confused as to the version best suited to them. While organisations are aware of the new version, most are still unsure as to how, or even if, it will affect them. Consequently, many are reluctant to take the leap of faith.

Are you confused?

One of the major factors prohibiting organisations from implementing the latest version is a lack of understanding about its role, especially with regards to service design and strategy. Some organisations believe that implementing v3 should be the first step in adopting best-practice IT when, in fact, the basic processes outlined in v2 will still support an organisation’s deliverables.

There are significant differences between each version. Processes, efficiency and cost were the focus of v2, while v3 promotes the adoption of a life-cycle approach to improve the quality of service.

It is important to note that there is no need to throw away the processes outlined in v2 as these can be carried over to v3. So, organisations can keep ITIL v2 in place and, depending on the level of ITSM maturity, use these as a foundation for v3.

For some companies and overall business strategies, v3 may never be a requirement as the processes within v2 will be sufficient to meet their service management needs.

When ITIL v3 is worth it

Whereas v2 focuses on separate process silos, v3 approaches service management from a business perspective, closely examining the quality of service provided.

Since IT plays a vital role within the organisation, a better understanding of the business is required to support the changing needs from the start. Version 3 provides guidance on current IT practices and considers issues such as outsourcing, off-shoring and the internet, which have become a fact of everyday business since v2 was introduced.

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