ITIL Foundation explained

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ITIL Foundation: this article explains the concept of the ITIL Foundation in a practical way. In addition to the practical explanation of this philosophy, the processes, service management and practical solutions, the power of continuous improvement, the growth of this philosophy and the benefits of ITIL are explained. Enjoy reading!

What is ITIL Foundation?

The meaning of ITIL

In the 1980s there was an increasing need for a framework to support IT organizations. Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) was developed to provide support for the design and governance of all management organizations.

ITIL Foundation represents a structured approach to the delivery of high-quality IT services and was first introduced on the Dutch market by ICT multinational Pink Elephant in the 1980s.

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ITIL and documentation standards

ITIL consists of a series of books (best practices) that form a library/ documentation file. The library describes the most important processes for IT service providers which enable them to provide the best possible quality to their clients.

The strength of using this framework lies in the fact that the framework is applicable to any IT organization. It has grown into a philosophy that is shared worldwide by IT professionals who work with it in practice. It is about best practices for the design of IT management processes within an organization.

Practical solutions

ITIL is a consistent and comprehensive source for IT service management, consisting of models, concepts and processes which together provide a powerful ITIL framework for the organization and improvement of IT processes within organizations.

This framework provides practical solutions in the area of information technology and it provides guidelines for IT service providers. All these practical solutions have been composed by a large number of experienced IT managers, executive staff, experienced (end) users and consultants.

IT specialists therefore deliver input for all the improvement proposals within ITIL Foundation.

Continual improvements

The starting point is that IT organizations continually improve themselves by means of ITIL framework. ITIL Foundation combines a number of functions and processes that make the framework a valuable tool for the set- up of a service management organization.

Another benefit is that ITIL can be applied to any organization, regardless of size, IT infrastructure or degree of professionalism.

ITIL Foundation Framework

In the 1980s, the British government developed a set of IT recommendations. The dependence on IT was growing and there were no uniform standards available. Together with clients from the private sector, the British government developed its own standards.

The first ITIL framework set (version 1) was published in 1989. In 2000, the second version was published which included 8 logical sets, that in turn describe the various aspects of management, applications and services.

In 2007, the third and most recent version was published in which 26 processes and functions can be subdivided into 5 sets that consist of the following modular components:

Service strategy

The manual for IT development in the long term.

Service design

The Service design provides best practices solutions for IT services.

Service transition

The Service transition concerns the delivery of services that are outside the scope of the normal operating process, which often provides a starting point for IT projects.

Service operation

The Service operation is about the immediate delivery of services and value creation. Furthermore, problems are defined and a balance is sought between reliability and the costs of service delivery.

Continual Service Improvement (CSI)

The purpose of Continual Service Improvement is to align IT services in such a way that they meet customers’ needs and requirements.

Benefits of the ITIL Foundation

The management of information and communication technology (the different systems and applications) is becoming increasingly complex. Using this framework ensures that the increasing complexity and changes are well-governed.

Therefore, ITIL Foundation is not a methodology but a collection of guidelines that serve as a framework and a basis for IT solutions. The IT service level can therefore be safeguarded and improved. Furthermore, using this framework has a huge range of benefits:

  • Reduction in costs
  • Improved IT services through the use of proven best practice processes
  • Increased customer satisfaction through a professional approach to IT service delivery
  • IT-standards and guidance
  • Greater productivity
  • Better use of competences and experiences
  • Better use of third party services through ITIL specifications or ISO20000 as the standard for service delivery

The philosophy behind ITIL

ITIL is popular and much has been written about it over the years, as a result of which an certain philosophy evolved. Many organizations recognize the increasing dependence on IT to achieve business objectives.

There is not one organization that can do without IT. This leads to an increasing demand for high-quality IT services delivery. Therefore, it is possible nowadays to obtain ISO certification for this ITIL framework so that its quality is safeguarded.

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Now It’s Your Turn

What do you think? Is the ITIL still applicable in today’s modern technology companies? And if so, how do you use it and what are the general results? Are the basics the same or are there new ones?

Share your experience and knowledge in the comments box below.

More information

  1. Bon, J. van, Jong, A. de .(2007). Foundations of ITIL® V3: based on ITIL V3. Van Haren Publishing.
  2. Cartlidge, A., Hanna, A., Rudd, C., Macfarlane, I., Windebank, J., & Rance, S. (2007). An introductory overview of ITIL V3. The UK Chapter of the itSMF.
  3. Nabiollahi, A., & bin Sahibuddin, S. (2008). Considering service strategy in ITIL V3 as a framework for IT Governance. In Information Technology, 2008. ITSim 2008. International Symposium on (Vol. 1, pp. 1-6). IEEE.
  4. Pereira, R., & Silva, M. M. D. (2011, August). A maturity model for implementing ITIL V3 in practice. In Enterprise Distributed Object Computing Conference Workshops (EDOCW), 2011 15th IEEE International (pp. 259-268). IEEE.

How to cite this article:
Mulder, P. (2016). ITIL Foundation. Retrieved [insert date] from Toolshero:

Original publication date: 05/13/2016 | Last update: 04/29/2023

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Patty Mulder
Article by:

Patty Mulder

Patty Mulder is an Dutch expert on Management Skills, Personal Effectiveness and Business Communication. She is also a Content writer, Business Coach and Company Trainer and lives in the Netherlands (Europe).
Note: all her articles are written in Dutch and we translated her articles to English!


One response to “ITIL Foundation explained”

  1. Anonymous says:

    This is one of the most comprehensive and detailed explanations of ITIL! The background history shared here helps us gain a better understanding of how ITIL has evolved throughout the years and how it got to where it is now, All this information is also written in a very easy to understand way.

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