ITIL Definition of terms is critical to understand IT Service Management basics and ITIL Foundation. What are ITIL definition of terms? What is ITIL definition for service? What is ITIL Definition for IT Service and What is ITIL Definition for IT Service Management? In this article, we will go over the ITIL definitions of important terms.

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ITIL Definitions #1: Service, IT Service and ITSM

We will go over the important ITIL definitions about service, IT service, service management and IT service management.

Note that, these ITIL definitions have been acquired from the official ITIL publications.

ITIL Definition of Outcome

itil definition service it service and itsm

First one is Outcome. Outcome is the result of carrying out an activity, following a process, or delivering an IT service etc. The outcome is used to refer to intended results, as well as to actual results.

Let’s remember our money withdrawal process example we gave before during our What is ITIL article. You initiate a money withdrawal request in an ATM, and you expect the requested money to be provided to you as a result of your request. So, “getting requested money” is an outcome of this withdrawal process.

ITIL Definition of Service

Service is a means of delivering value to customers by facilitating outcomes customers want to achieve, without the ownership of specific costs and risks.

For instance, think of a pizza shop giving home delivery service. You pay a price for pizza and you expect your order to be prepared and delivered to you in promised time and quality. So here, getting a delicious pizza in a short time is the value of the Pizza shop delivers to you as a customer.

There are also risks and specific costs of this service. Pizza shop can have a busy time or all pizza materials should have been consumed which can cause late delivery, or the delivery boy can have an accident when he is delivering your pizza to your home. As a customer, you won’t want to have the ownership of these kinds of specific costs and risks when paying the price of pizza service.

ITIL Definition of IT Service

itil definition service it service and itsm

IT Service is a Service provided to one or more customers by an IT Service provider. For instance pizza delivery is not an IT service, but money withdrawal from an ATM is an IT service. Because your Bank which providing this service to you is an IT Service provider.

An IT Service is made up from a combination of:

  • People
  • Processes
  • Technology

A customer-facing IT service directly supports the business processes of one or more customers and its service level targets should be defined in a service level agreement.

Briefly, Service Level Agreement defines the negotiated terms and conditions about a service between the provider and customer of the service. For instance, how many calls will be handled in a call center at a time, what will be the average call response time, what will be the maximum call response time? These are examples of what should be agreed in a call center service example.

Other IT services, called supporting services, are not directly used by the business but are required by the service provider to deliver customer-facing services.

Think of a call representative working in a call center. In order to serve a customer on the line, she might use a service getting personal information of the customer to her screen. So this service is not visible to customer but used to support the customer on the line as a supporting service.

ITIL Definition of Service Management

itil definition service it service and itsm

Service Management is a set of specialized organizational capabilities for providing value for the customer in the form of services.

We use water in the bathroom and when we turn on the tap, we know that water will flow. When we switch on the lamp, we expect it to illuminate the room. Normally, water and electricity was not this much reliable as it is today. In 1950s, there were water outages in many cities and water was provided only for a limited time to a district of a city.

With the evolution of technology, water and electricity distribution become very reliable during time and now considered as utility.

The use of IT today has become the utility of business. Business today wants IT services that behave like other utilities such as water, electricity or the telephone. Best technology itself cannot ensure utility-like reliability.

Professional, responsive, value-driven service management is what brings this quality of service to the business.

ITIL Definition of IT Service Management (ITSM)

IT Service Management (ITSM) is the implementation and management of quality IT services that meet the needs of the business.

IT Service Management is performed by IT service providers through an appropriate mix of people, process and information technology.

IT service providers can provide their services either to an internal or external customer.

In this article, we have gone through important ITIL definitions and examples about service, IT service, service management and IT service management. You might be interested in ITIL Definitions #2 - Function article as well.


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