The FAQs on ITIL version 3

Version 3 of the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) is in the works and will be published in late spring 2007. This updated version will focus more on service design, versus process. In his latest column, ITIL expert Brian Johnson answers some FAQs about the focus of ITIL version 3.

A new version of the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) is on its way. This third iteration of the ITIL guidelines will draw upon lessons learned from earlier ITIL efforts to help IT organizations further improve efficiency, effectiveness and business alignment.

Here are some frequently asked questions and answers about the soon-to-be-released ITIL version 3.

How will ITIL version 3 differ from ITIL version 2?

According to the Office of Government Commerce (OGC), the version 3 books will deliver ITIL with an emphasis on IT service strategies, design, transition and continuous service improvement. In the next version, five books will replace the current nine books, and the focus will be positioning ITIL processes at appropriate, multiple points in the development of IT services and their subsequent release to customers. The OGC has also stated that guidance for currently implemented ITIL processes will be part of the new volumes.

How will I be able to migrate from one strategic approach (process-led, as in version 2) to another (service design-led, which is the focus of version 3)?

The scoping documents and the new books will address how to best migrate from a process approach to a service approach.

However, the real question is why should you have to migrate to the new design if the current process-led approach already meets your goals for IT/business alignment. ITIL is not a rule book or instruction manual it is more like a map or street directory that's designed to allow IT organizations to achieve IT service excellence by following a variety of routes or guidance depending on which process improvement initiatives they have set as their goal or destination.

Should I wait for the templates and process models that will be published in version 3?

The short answer is no, don't wait. Generic templates are like ITIL books -- guidance. They still require the organization to define its business and IT requirements. If those requirements are not defined, no template or version of ITIL -- whether it's one, two or three -- will help.

The best approach is to get together with trusted colleagues -- from both the business and IT sides -- and brainstorm what the business needs and how IT can support it. A generic template is a guide and is no substitute for critical thinking. Process models are best derived from modeling your own 'as is' processes and analyzing them for improvement. Thus, a useful member of the brainstorm team would be an analyst with modeling skills.

Above all, remember that using the ITIL guidance and processes sensibly depends on the IT organization itself -- not the ITIL authors, publishers, educators or other third parties.

Since the ISO/IEC 20000 standard, which defines the requirements for an IT service management system, now exists and is based on ITIL version 2 -- why bother with a version 3?

The ITIL version 3 development team is required to ensure that ITIL version 3 continues to support ISO/IEC 20000. The current ITIL guidance successfully puts IT organizations on the path to ISO/IEC 20000, so don't abandon current projects or become concerned that IT will not reach its goals with the arrival of ITIL version 3 -- it will support this standard.

Of course, good practice theory (like the processes implemented in an organization) will continuously be improved over time, so it is not unreasonable to consider updating guidance such as ITIL or ISO/IEC standards periodically. ISO/IEC 20000 will transition over time based on requirements of the international community.

About the author: Brian Johnson is one of the original authors of the first ITIL books and an ITIL senior practice manager for CA. He has also authored more than 15 books on ITIL or related topics and is the founder of the IT Service Management Forum, a professional organization focused on IT service management and ITIL.

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