Not at all. After you have absorbed the basic concepts, you can learn a lot from the other seven volumes. For instance, as you might imagine, Introduction to ITIL introduces the basic concepts that comprise the ITIL approach to service management. Then, Planning to Implement Service Management explains the steps necessary to identify how an organization will benefit from ITIL. ICT Infrastructure Management covers critical issues such as network service management, operations management, computer installation and acceptance, and systems management. Applications Management focuses on software development and support lifecycles, defining requirements, and testing of IT services.
The Business Perspective volume is actually two books -- one aimed at IT staffers, and the other intended for business managers. Together, they discuss business continuity management, partnerships, outsourcing, surviving change, and transforming business practices through radical change. Security Management discusses security practices and standards from an ITIL perspective. Finally, Software Asset Management provides best practices for managing software and software licenses.
6. ITIL has been around for more than 15 years. Why is it now taking hold in the United States?
The United States has always lagged behind Europe in the discipline of IT infrastructure management. Go to a bookstore, and you’ll find precious few books on the subject. Go to the universities, and you’ll visit a lot before finding one that teaches it. One reason that this is changing is the increasing impact of European- and Asian-owned companies operating in the United States, all saying, “Hey, get on board! You need to be ITIL-compliant. That’s how we run our shops over here.”
Another factor driving U.S. acceptance is that companies are seeing more than two-thirds of their IT budgets being eaten up in new, nondiscretionary operating costs, over which they have very little control. It’s rare to find an IT shop that can articulate how IT contributes to company’s bottom line.
ITIL changes that by implementing successive waves of mini-projects that target specific business goals with measurable results. Typical goals might include reducing IT costs, reducing service outages, preparing for a major IT initiative, or preparing for a major business change such as a merger, move, or acquisition. These efforts may involve entire ITIL processes or just parts of them.
Finally, whereas IT customers of the past used to be purely internal (staffers, managers, and auditors), these days increasing numbers of IT “customers” in the United States are external -- actual customers of the business itself, interacting via public Web sites. If systems fail, potential buyers are likely to take their business elsewhere; potential damage to corporate reputation is high.
The pace of business change, technology, and legal regulation is moving faster every day, and all these financial imperatives are hard to ignore: As was noted at Microsoft’s 2004 IT Forum Conference, “Recent studies are showing that an IT service organization could achieve up to a 48 percent cost reduction by applying ITSM principles.”
As long as ITIL remains the only comprehensive plan for infrastructure management that focuses specifically on IT service, it will continue to be the only game in town.