ITIL – Demystifying Misnomers and Misconceptions


Last updated on September 17, 2018

Lakshmi Nanduri

Lakshmi Nanduri Program manager

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As ITIL evolved over the years, there are certain misconceptions, misnomers and even misinformation that have resulted in lack of opacity about what ITIL is a framework of Best Practices and the advantages it can provide to Businesses.  Though started-off as a prescription for the IT Industry, it evolved over the years to the point of where it can be applied as, ‘X-a-s-S,’ for any Service. Presenting few popular misnomers busting the real myth.

Misconception #1: ITIL is not just for IT

The most common misconception about ITIL is that it is all about IT, which is not the real scenario. Not many realize that ITIL which talks about Processes & Service Management and its Principles can be applied more broadly much beyond IT which as a practice can further achievement of outcomes for Businesses. ITIL gives businesses a varied mindset in looking at X-a-a-S as its non-prescriptive, thus providing flexibility for adoption and adaptation of a common nomenclature and an integrated set of process flows enabling Businesses to deliver services. Thereby facilitating usage of a common language, and when Businesses are clear and understand what they’re doing, it helps to optimize their workflow, reduce costs and give improved service to the customer.

Misconception #2: ITIL is a strict set of standards

ITIL is a set of detailed practices for IT service management (ITSM) that focuses on aligning IT services with the specific needs of a business. The common misconception is that ITIL is a rigid set of tools, procedures, and processes. Businesses generally and sometimes implement and impose strict, prescriptive regimes that do not match up with their actual, unique needs. Implementation of such inflexible structures on the staff is often met with resistance. But the reality is that ITIL is non-prescriptive, though descriptive. It is more of a supporting framework, not as a set of rules to follow. The very nature of ITIL and the ‘adopt and adapt’ mindset encourages users to tailor the library of best practices to their needs. ITIL helps users overcome problems and also allows the user to find a way to tackle any situation. ITIL is a best practice framework and not a standard, however a standard from ISO exists, ISO/IEC 20000, for Service Management Standards.

Misconception #3: ITIL is for internal use only

A common misconception is that ITIL is a framework for IT service management and should be adopted by the service provider alone and that ITIL is concerned only with certain aspects of IT operations, and is not relevant to anything beyond that. Services are interpreted as something that is ‘offered to’ customers, without involving them in any stage of the service lifecycle. This leads to a fundamental disconnect between the service provider and their customer, resulting in strategic outsourcing of decisions in the case of internal customers, or a swift change of service providers in the case of external customers. ITIL represents a way for service providers to understand what the customer values without having to understand and badger the customer with fundamental questions.

Misconception #4: ITIL is primarily about processes

This misconception arises because ITIL details the capabilities required for delivering services in the form of a set of 26 processes and 4 functions, divided into five lifecycle stages. This is misinterpreted as requiring a separate team for each process, function or each lifecycle change, which is not the truth.

Everything that runs in an organization is a process and processes are interlinked and cannot be separated. The process flow, once documented, clearly shows where it goes next, and what needs to be done and in what timeframe. ITIL’s much value and uniqueness lie in its process-based approach. By thinking about ITIL as a process approach, the guidance can be customized, with organizations selecting only the elements they need and are most relevant for their size of business. While professionals should understand the full-service lifecycle and how the stages interlink, individual companies can focus only on what’s interesting and useful to their organization.

Misconception #5: ITIL is only for large organizations

Many people believe that ITIL isn’t for their organization as they feel that ITIL is too big, complicated and arduous for their business and that they cannot afford to employ 26 process owners. Just because ITIL has 26 processes, and each of the processes must have a Process Owner – doesn’t mean that you have 26 different people managing each one of them, but assigning each of the roles to an existing position in the organization chart in a logical manner. By thinking of ITIL as a cumbersome set of rules designed for big businesses, many professionals think that ITIL is going to radically disrupt their organization by forcing them to change how they do things. But this simply isn’t the case.

In essence, ITIL can be tailored and can fit any business no matter what shape or size. Once the fundamentals are in place, organizations use ITIL in a more sophisticated way to evolve its service offerings. ITIL processes can be used by businesses of all sizes and shapes to bring clarity to roles and responsibilities.

Misconception #6: ITIL is incompatible with other practices

There is a vast misconception that ITIL is related just to operations, handling only the support side of IT and not the strategy or delivery. Some even consider ITIL to be very process oriented and do not recognize the key metrics of ITIL to work better, faster and safer. But in reality, ITIL is a framework, methodology, or philosophy that provides answers to all questions, witho’ut requiring a significant change in working practices, and or any additional guidance from outside its own closed space.

Lean, agile and DevOps practices can’t be successful without ITIL. Each of them needs to go from idea to realization and should be supported in operations & improved as required. IT Service Management (ITSM) practice derived from ITIL Best Practices is the only practice that includes and mandates the aspect of going-live with improvements, through a very structured approach to Continual Service Improvements.

ITIL can be highly beneficial to organizations that follow the approaches, techniques, and methodologies it recommends. When appropriately implemented, businesses experience increases in the overall quality & return on investment made in their IT products, solutions, and services. It can guide businesses in the design of these processes too; only if they are utilized to the core. Most misconceptions regarding ITIL are because it hasn’t been thoroughly analyzed, utilized or adapted to its fullest perspective and many businesses are yet to realize that ITIL is more than IT alone.

Contact YASH today to know more about Information Technology Service Management

Lakshmi Nanduri -Program manger @YASH Technologies

Lakshmi Nanduri

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