FAQ: ITIL Reference Processes

This page offers answers to a number of common questions related to ITIL® implementation initiatives and ITIL reference processes.

On this page:

Can I obtain subsets of the full ITIL reference process model?

We do not recommend breaking up the ITIL Process Map into portions, and therefore subsets are not available.

The reason for this is that the ITIL processes typically have numerous inputs coming from, and outputs going to, related processes (for example, Incident Management is feeding information into Problem Management). A good understanding of those interrelationships is critical for any ITIL initiative, so we took great pains to illustrate precisely what information flows between the ITIL processes.

As a result, destroying these links by breaking up the ITIL Reference Model into portions would deprive you of one of the main benefits you get from our product.

How was the ITIL Process Map created from the ITIL books?

A reference process model must be applicable in the real world

The new set of ITIL books contains some 2000 pages of best practice recommendations, while our reference process model consists of about 25 overview diagrams and 126 detailed process flows, plus more than 100 checklists and templates.

The ITIL Process Map is therefore not so much about presenting every single detail in a different format - rather, it presents the essential contents in an easily accessible and understandable way, so that you can instantly make use of the ITIL recommendations in your ITIL project.

A reference process model is subject to strict rules

By definition, a process model must explicitly state which activities are to be carried out in what order, and what outputs are to be produced for subsequent processes. Redundancies are not allowed - any activity can occur only once within a well-defined process, with clearly assigned responsibilities for its execution.

Books, in contrast, can get away with being less strict. Statements like "Risk must be analyzed and managed during all stages of Service Transition" may be suitable for books. When developing a process model, however, it must be precisely defined how and when risks are analyzed and who is responsible for that task.

For those reasons, creating the ITIL Process Map meant extracting the essentials from the ITIL books, sorting out redundancies, and translating the text-based content into clear-cut activity flows. This required a lot of expertise and effort - the present version of the ITIL Process Map took us many years to develop.

Is the ITIL Process Map a complete representation of all ITIL processes?

The ITIL Process Map offers complete coverage of the ITIL core publications (a set of five books on Service Strategy, Service Design, Service Transition, Service Operation and Continual Service Improvement).

Where does the ITIL Process Map differ from the ITIL books?

When creating the ITIL Process Map, we introduced improvements to the ITIL process structure in a few areas. According to our own experiences, this will significantly enhance the chances of a successful ITIL implementation:

Proper assignment of responsibility for risk management

ITIL calls for "coordinated risk assessment exercises", so we assigned clear responsibilities for managing risks by introducing a specific Risk Management process.

Having a basic Risk Management process in place will also provide a good starting point for applying best-practice Risk Management frameworks like M_o_R (as recommended in the ITIL books).

Dedicated compliance management process

Compliance is an increasingly important topic for service provider organizations, because it must be ensured that the services, processes and systems comply with enterprise policies and legal requirements. This called for introducing a specific Compliance Management process.

Dedicated architecture management process

Having a well-defined architecture blueprint in place is very important for IT organizations. As a consequence, we defined a Architecture Management process.

Full-featured project management process

The Transition Planning and Support process was enhanced to provide a full-featured Project Management process.

This will also provide a good starting point for introducing best-practice Project Management frameworks like PRINCE2 or PMBOK (as recommended in the ITIL books).

"Seven-Step Improvement Process" as a checklist

The "Seven-Step Improvement Process" presented in the ITIL books is in fact the description of a methodology which can be universally applied to identify shortcomings in services and processes and to implement improvements. The principles it contains are applied in a number of ITIL processes, most importantly in Service Design (e.g. in the Service Level Management, Capacity Management, and Availability Management processes).

As a result, the "Seven-Step Improvement Process" cannot be treated as a standalone ITIL process, and there is no such process in the ITIL Process Map. The "Seven-Step Improvement" principles, however, are included in a checklist.

How does the ITIL Process Map deal with ITIL "functions"?

In various parts of the guidance, ITIL refers to "Functions" rather than "Processes". For instance, Incident Management is introduced as a Process and Facilities Management as a Function.

Much confusion stems from the fact that in the real world there are often "Functions" and "Processes" with identical names: For example, the Facilities Management team (a "Function") will perform a set of facilities-related activities, which as a whole are called the Facilities Management process.

As a result, the ITIL Process Map features a Facilities Management process even though, strictly speaking, the ITIL books define Facilities Management as a Function.