When we take stock of the productivity gains resulting from IT, it is often technology that gets the credit. A closer inspection, however, reveals that it is the management of IT that does much of the heavy lifting. If management is the art of performance then IT management is the vehicle for turning technology’s complexity and specialisation into productive performance.
You do not need a license to practice IT. Instead, IT managers are all too often relegated to learning through on-the-job training. To illustrate, we’ve always had doctors, but it wasn’t until medicine became a discipline that we came to expect much more. Only when the trade became codified - taught, practiced and improved upon - did we significantly raise the level of performance. Of course, few could now conceive of sending a surgeon into an operating room without proven levels of performance.
Similarly, IT-based services have become vital to the fabric of business and society. The manner in which information-based services are conceived, produced and distributed has given rise to new business models. IT service management has grown from an operational concern into a strategic tool. So it is not surprising that the growth and prosperity of IT service management is accompanied by its codification.
For many years, the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) has played a notable role in connecting technology with its management. Many books and frameworks focus on IT topics, but often they focus on a single idea, without broader context.
The latest version of ITIL differs because it presents a coherent view of IT services. Its purpose is to provide practical guidance while explaining the underlying theory and practice of managing IT services. Written for a wide audience it lays out the fundamental principles and processes of a discipline that makes modern life possible.
IT organisations accomplish business outcomes that none of us could achieve alone. Version 3 of ITIL offers a disciplined way of thinking about those outcomes and offers viable guidance for achieving them. Re-architected into a five-phase lifecycle, it begins with Service Strategy, the discernment of an IT organisation’s strategic purpose; a topic that often gets short shrift in the pursuit of day-to-day practicalities.