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ITSM (IT Service Management), ITIL® and ISO 20000

What is ITSM?

IT service management, often known more simply as service management, focuses on delivering the IT services that organisations need to operate efficiently and effectively.

Examples of ITSM frameworks include ITIL and ISO 20000. ITIL and ISO 20000 have much in common but have different aims.

What is ITIL?

ITIL is the most popular ITSM framework in the world. It sets out ITSM best practice that organisations can adopt according to their business needs and particular circumstances.

The latest iteration of the framework, ITIL 4, sets out a digital operating model for IT teams, known as the SVS (service value system).

The ITIL SVS has five components:

  • The ITIL service value chain
    This comprises six activities, which can be combined in different sequences known as ‘value streams’:
    1. Plan
    2. Improve
    3. Engage
    4. Design and transition
    5. Obtain/build
    6. Deliver and support
  • Seven ITIL guiding principles
    The service value chain is supported by the following principles to ensure stakeholders’ needs are met:
    1. Focus on value
    2. Start where you are
    3. Progress iteratively with feedback
    4. Collaborate and promote visibility
    5. Think and work holistically
    6. Keep it simple and practical
    7. Optimize and automate
  • 34 ITIL practices
    ITIL 4 has 34 management practices, split into 3 areas:
    1. General management practices
    2. Technical management practices
    3. Service management practices
  • Governance
    Governance of the SVS aims to ensure organisations can maintain a holistic approach to service value chains, so the organisation can be agile, with management activities that support corporate objectives.
  • Continual improvement
    ITIL 4 has a six-step continual improvement model:
    1. Business vision, mission, goals and objectives
    2. Perform baseline assessments
    3. Define measurable tags
    4. Define improvement plan
    5. Execute improvement actions
    6. Evaluate metrics and KPIs

There is also a professional certification scheme that provides individuals with a path from Foundation to Master via two ‘designation streams’.

What is ISO 20000?

ISO 20000 is the international standard for ITSM.

An ISO 20000-compliant SMS (service management system) – especially one that has achieved independently audited certification to the Standard – demonstrates to stakeholders that the organisation follows ITSM best practice.

ISO 20000 comprises ten parts, of which parts one and two are the most important:

  • Part 1 sets out the requirements for an IT SMS.
  • Part 2 describes the best practices for service management processes in an SMS.

How IT Governance Publishing can help you implement ITSM best practice

ITGP commissions and publishes a wide range of books and toolkits designed to help organisations implement IT service management systems and adopt ITIL best practice.

Books and audiobooks

ITGP is the world’s leading publisher of IT governance, risk management and compliance books. Created by practitioners with real-world expertise, our books help organisations and individuals achieve their objectives.

  View our range of ITSM and AXELOS®-licensed ITIL books


Used by more than 9,000 organisations worldwide, our toolkits are designed by expert implementers with years of experience leading and managing management system implementation projects. The toolkits contain:

  • Customisable documentation templates, designed to ensure your compliance with whichever standard you are implementing;
  • Gap analysis tools to help you understand where you meet a standard’s requirements and where you need to focus your efforts to ensure complete compliance; and
  • Guidance from our experts to help ensure your management system meets its objectives.

The toolkits are hosted on our Cloud-based DocumentKits platform, meaning you can access your templates anywhere, at any time.

  View our range of ITSM and ITIL toolkits