When implementing IT management in an organization, there’s this common confusion between ITSM and ITIL. You must have asked yourself, “What is needed, ITSM or ITIL?”The confusion is justified because these two terms seem to be the same but they are actually different.

In this blog, you will get to know about ITSM and ITIL; how different they are, and their relationship.

ITIL and ITSM – How different they are?Let’s start by knowing what is ITIL and ITSM, and their differences.

What is ITIL?ITIL stands for IT Infrastructure Library that came into existence in the 80s. The brand ITIL is owned by Axelos.

It’s a well know framework that tells you a-z of IT service management. There are dozens of frameworks out there and ITIL is the most popular. It focuses on the alignment of IT with business objectives.

The ITIL framework is divided into 5 core volumes:

  • Service Strategy
  • Service Design
  • Service Transition
  • Service Operation
  • Continual Service Improvement

Over the years there have been many iterations to the ITIL framework; ITIL V4 is the latest in line. In the latest version, they have:

  • Given the importance to Value, Outcome, Cost, and Risk.
  • Defined 4 dimensions of service management.
  • Introduced a concept called ITIL Service Value System.

Apart from being a framework, ITIL has given important terminologies to ITSM like Configuration Management Database (CMDB), Configuration Item (CI), Incident Management, Problem Management, Change Management, etc.

Benefits of ITILHere are some of the benefits of having the ITIL framework:

  • ITIL cuts down the adoption time of ITSM drastically.
  • Makes sure your IT is aligned with your business.
  • It helps you manage business risks from service disruptions.
  • It establishes a standard across industries for ITSM professionals.

What is ITSM?It includes all the activities and management techniques that go into delivering IT services to customers; the activities include planning, designing, operating, and controlling IT services.

ITSM is not technology-focused, rather the focus is on the customer. There’s an emphasis on continuous improvement in the IT service delivery process. Today, ITSM is treated as a professional discipline that is responsible for all the services that you can associate with the IT department.

Benefits of ITSM

Here are some benefits of implementing ITSM:

  • Customer satisfaction through better service delivery.
  • Well-designed workflows that result in increased efficiency.
  • Gives you the ability to identify the root cause behind problems.
  • Reduces the cost of service delivery through proper resource utilization.

So, what is the difference?

ITIL is a framework that teaches the best practices of ITSM. ITSM combines ITIL with business objectives to deliver IT services
The focus is on IT The focus is on the business
A framework that tells how to deliver services Methodology to find out what to deliver as services
ITIL is only concerned with IT service delivery ITSM implementation affects an organization as a whole

So how to define the relationship between ITIL and ITSM?

It’s a symbiotic relationship between ITSM and ITIL. ITIL tells how to be effective with ITSM by laying down all the best practices. Whereas, ITSM takes care of what to deliver and how to deliver it.

There are other frameworks like ITIL

There are plenty of frameworks out there like ITIL, like:

  • Business Process Framework (eTOM)
  • Control Objectives for Information and Related Technologies (COBIT)
  • DevOps
  • FitSM
  • Knowledge-Centered Service
  • Lean
  • Microsoft Operations Framework (MOF)
  • Service Integration and Management (SIAM)
  • Multisource Services Integration (MSI)
  • Six Sigma


ITIL is synonymous with ITSM because of its popularity, hence the confusion. As you have come to know, these two terms are different, but they are complementary to each other. ITSM is the ‘What’ and ITIL is the ‘How’ of IT service delivery.

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