ServiceNow - ITIL

ITIL stands for Information Technology Infrastructure Library. It was introduced by the UK government’s Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency (CCTA) during the 1980s.

ITIL is a collection of books having processes and best practises laid down in order to achieve efficient IT (Information Technology) Service Management (ITSM) and elaborating all the activities required for delivering end to end IT services in any organisation.

ITIL defines service as “means of delivering value to customers by facilitating outcomes customers want to achieve, but without the ownership of specific costs and risks.” ITSM states the systematic approach to design, deliver and manage IT services within the organization.

Stages of ITIL

ITIL is divided into five main stages. Every stage has a specific role to play in a service life cycle and form the skeleton of ITIL. Let's look into each stage briefly.

Service Strategy

It is the first stage of ITIL, which lays down the blueprint of a new service (or changes in an existing service). The proper plan and roadmap of the service is prepared in this stage. All the aspects of services like value creation, resources, capabilities, investment, portfolio, etc. are discussed in this phase.

Service Design

This is the next phase of ITIL, wherein, architecture of the new or changed service takes place, as per the service strategy. It also lays down the processes, policies and solutions as per the business requirements.

Service Transition

This is the third stage of ITIL and the main objective of this stage is plan, manage, build and deploy the new or changed IT service in the production (real world). This stage also drafts the risk management and back out plans. Change management is one of the important processes which comes under service transition, which is explained later.

Service Operation

This stage of ITIL focuses on the day to day IT services, which are delivered to the customers. It makes sure that; every IT service is delivered efficiently without any (or at minimum possible) disruption. This stage introduces various processes, which need to be carried out in case of service disruption, incident management and problem management being important among them.

Continual Service Improvement (CSI)

This stage highlights the steps that could be taken, to increase the overall efficiency and performance of the service. The CSI works closely with all the other stages and identifies improvement opportunities with metrics driven approach.

Processes in ITIL

Now let's look into the three main processes in ITIL. The Change Management comes under Service Transition and Incident Management and Problem Management comes under Service operation.

Change Management

It is an approach which guides on how to prepare, manage and support transition in the service. It deals with any kind of change within the organisation. May it be technological change, process change, organisational restructuring, physical datacenter related changes, software related changes, server related changes, etc.

specific change request is raised in any ITIL tools like ServiceNow, Remedy, etc. to track the change. The change request undergoes several stages like review, approval, budgeting, documentations, etc. which may vary as per the organisation’s policies.

Incident Management

It is an approach to identify, analyse, manage and restore any disruption caused in the service. Incident management ensures that the performance of the service is up to the mark and any interruption in the quality of the service is restored as soon as possible.

A specific incident record with unique ticket number is raised in ITIL tool, by support/service desk executive for each and every disruption reported. The corresponding team further analyses and restore the service and updates the Incident ticket accordingly in ITIL tool.

Problem Management

The purpose of problem management is to find a permanent root cause for the recurring incidents. Problem management mitigates the impact of the recurring incidents in the services. As per the ITIL practice, a problem record is raised for recurring types of incidents.

The corresponding team finds the exact root cause and proposes change or fix in the service for the permanent resolution of the incident. A change request is raised for the proposed fix/change and it is implemented in production through change management process.

Example of entire ITIL process

Let us take an example of a startup BookWorm ltd., which sells books online through their website. The company is planning to launch a book rental service in selected cities. This service provides facility for doorstep delivery and return of the rented books. The company has adopted an ITIL framework, since its establishment and since, this is a new service, it should undergo various stages of ITIL.

Service strategy

The service proposal is first presented to the stakeholders. The discussions on customer base, return on investment (ROI), prices, market research, competitors and business model takes place in this phase.

Service design

The blueprint of the service is prepared by the experts in the respective fields. The technology that will be used to deliver the service to the customer, subscription plans, payment method, online portal design, delivery and return model and charges are finalised in this stage.

Service transition

At this point of time, scope and design of the service is already defined. In service transition, the preparation to implement the service starts. The change request is raised for the new service and activities like software development, budgeting, approval, acquisitions, inventory management is undertaken by the respective teams. The roadmap for the service is finalised and milestone dates are set for the service to go live.

Service operation

The service is now in production and each and every issue (whether one time or recurring) reported during the service delivery by the customers, users or internal team is tracked and managed by the Service operation.

Continual Service Improvement

In this continuous process, the opportunities are identified to make service better, for example, internal IT team suggests a new CMS (content management system) tool for their website, which provides improved metrics, easy access and enhanced features.

Change, Incident and Problem Management

An example of BookWorm Ltd. with respect to change management, incident management and problem management is discussed below −

The BookWorm ltd. has taken forward the idea to implement the new CMS as a part of continual service improvement. The service improvement plan undergoes various stages of ITIL - Service strategy, Service design, Service transition and finally the new CMS is implemented in production and is being monitored as part of Service operation. The new CMS is performing as expected and is providing enhanced features.

One fine day a customer using book rental service calls up the customer care and reports that, he had opted for the monthly subscription of their basic plan, but he was billed as per the premium plan. The customer care executive creates an Incident ticket for the issue in ITIL tool and forwards it to the respective team. This is the Incident management phase. The IT team checks the issue and corrects the bill amount and plan from the backend (database) directly and marks the incident as resolved.

With time, several similar incidents got reported by multiple customers. After resolving the issue by manual adjustment from the backend, the IT team decides to find a permanent root cause and fix this issue. They open a problem record for this recurring incident in an ITIL tool and start the investigation. This is a problem management phase. After an investigation, the team spots a bug in their script and identifies the changes required in the script as a part of fix.

The IT team now raises a change request in ITIL tool to fix the script of the new CMS and starts working in the code changes. This is the change management phase. The change request goes through various approval, prioritisation and budgeting phase and finally, gets implemented in production as per the agreed date.