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IT Service Management Tips: A Guide to ITIL Events Classifications

When an organization wants to improve its IT maturity, they often start by building a solid foundation for IT Service Management (ITSM) using the ITIL framework.

The Information Technology Infrastructure Library, or ITIL as it’s commonly referred to, describes the processes, procedures, tasks and checklists that organizations can apply as part of an overall IT strategy. It has a host of definitions for the different classifications of events that can happen within the service management lifecycle and can be used to improve customer delivery or to maintain a certain level of competency organization-wide.

Those wanting to use ITIL often get certified – the latest iteration being ITIL 4. ITIL 4 provides the guidance organizations need to address new service management challenges and harness the potential of modern technologies in the age of cloud, agile and DevOps transformations. A vital component of the ITIL 4 framework is the use of a single, uniform and cohesive set of guidelines for the management of IT services.

This article will discuss the standard ITIL classifications and describe how they work within an ITSM tool like TeamDynamix.

ITIL Classification Definitions

As with any new process, it’s important to clearly define the nomenclature that will be used as part of your ITSM culture. When implementing ITIL, the following definitions are used:

Incident – An unplanned interruption to an IT service or a reduction in the quality of an IT service. Failure of a configuration item that has not yet impacted one or more services is also an incident. For example, the failure of one disk from a mirror set.

Major Incident – An event that significantly affects a business or organization, and demands a response beyond the routine incident management process. A major incident is an incident that is either defined in the major incident procedure or which:

  • Affects, or has the potential to affect services or systems that are critical to the business
  • Has a significant effect on the reputation, legal compliance, regulation or security of the business/organization.

Problem – The cause of one or more incidents. The cause is not usually known when a problem record is created, and the problem management process is responsible for further investigation.

Change – the addition, modification or removal of anything that could affect IT services. This includes all IT services, configuration items, processes, documentation, etc.

Release – A collection of hardware or software documentation, processes or other components required to implement one or more approved changes to IT services. The contents of each release are managed, tested, and deployed as a single entity.​

Service Request – A request from a user for information, advice, a standard change or access to an IT service. For example, to reset a password, or to provide standard IT services for a new user. Service requests are usually handled by a service desk and do not require a Request for Change (RFC) to be submitted.

ITIL Definition Use Case

Now that we understand the definition of what constitutes a problem versus an incident versus a major incident, etc. let’s look at a hypothetical use case that covers most of these definitions:

There are fifty incidents of WiFi being interrupted.

Those incidents are then rolled up into a single problem ticket about the lack of suitable WiFi infrastructure.

A change ticket could then be opened and the WiFi infrastructure can be changed or upgraded to be more resilient and reliable.

A release ticket could then be created, and the institution could release new documentation and justification for the upgrade in WiFi infrastructure. The institution could release the news that the new WiFi infrastructure should be more consistent and that there is no cause for concern.

Using ITIL in TeamDynamix ITSM

Since these definitions may not perfectly suit the processes of a specific organization, these various classifications can be renamed and turned on or off as necessary within TeamDynamix. Because our tool is flexible, we allow you to use as much or as little ITIL depending on what makes sense for your organization and IT structure.

For example, service requests have a separate classification that can be created and used independently of a workflow.

A parent ticket can contain any of the child classifications below it. This means that a release can contain any problems, for example, without a change between them in the hierarchy.

When a parent ticket (for example, a release) is updated, a technician can elect to update or close all the child tickets (for example, changes, problems, major incidents, and incidents or service requests) that are nestled within it.

Unique to TeamDynamix is the ability to convert any ticket into a project. When a ticket is converted to a project task, any existing parent linkage is removed, but children tickets will remain. However, updates made to the ticket based on the corresponding project task’s status will not be cascaded to its children.

Lastly, any classification of a ticket may have a service knowledge article, asset or configuration item associated with it. 

Common ITIL Terminology You Should Know

Whether you’re new to ITIL or well versed, there’s some common terminology you should know.

Incident Management (IM) – The process responsible for managing the lifecycle of all incidents. The primary objective of incident management is to return the IT service to users as quickly as possible.

Asset Management (AM) – The process responsible for tracking and reporting the value and ownership of financial assets throughout their lifecycle. Asset management is part of an overall service asset and configuration management process.

Change Management (CM) – The process responsible for controlling the lifecycle of all changes. The primary objective of change management is to enable beneficial changes to be made with minimum disruption to IT services.

Standard Change (SC) – A change that is recurrent, well-known, has been proceduralized to follow a pre-defined, relatively risk-free path, and is the accepted response to a specific requirement or set of circumstances, where authority is effectively given in advance of implementation.

Change Advisory Board (CAB) – A group of people that advises the change manager on the assessment, prioritization and scheduling of changes. This board is usually made up of representatives from all areas within the IT service provider, business and third parties such as suppliers.

Emergency Change Advisory Board (ECAB) – An emergency meeting of the CAB, usually with a reduced number of members, to consider urgent, high-impact changes. Its membership, which may change from occasion to occasion, therefore needs to represent the knowledge and authority required in these exceptional circumstances. In practice, members may make their decisions without a physical meeting.

Change Manager (CM) – The person responsible for the change management process.

Configuration Item (CI) – Any component that needs to be managed in order to deliver an IT service. Information about each CI is recorded in a configuration record within the configuration management system and is maintained throughout its lifecycle by configuration management. CIs are under the control of change management. CIs typically include IT services, hardware, software, buildings, people and formal documentation such as process documentation and service level agreements.

Access Management (AM) – The process responsible for allowing users to make use of IT services, data or other assets. Access management helps to protect the confidentiality, integrity and availability of assets by ensuring that only authorized users can access or modify the assets. Access management is sometimes referred to as rights management or identity management.

Continual Service Improvement (CSI) – A stage in the lifecycle of an IT service and the title of one of the core ITIL books. Continual service improvement is responsible for managing improvement to IT service management processes and IT services. The performance of the IT service provider is continually measured, and improvements are made to processes, IT services and IT infrastructure in order to increase efficiency, effectiveness, and cost-effectiveness.

Service Desk (SD) – The single point of contact between the service provider and users. A typical service desk manages incidents and service requests and handles communication with users.

Service Catalog (SC) – A document (printed or on the intranet or internet) produced by the IT department to keep its customers and users informed. It provides a brief overview, in business terms, of all the business and infrastructure services offered by the IT provider and may include service charges. This information, together with more detailed technical knowledge will be maintained for internal use.

Service Owner (SO) – The individual taking primary responsibility for a service, including its design, objectives and progression.

Information Technology Service Provider (ITSP) – An organization supplying services to one or more internal customers or external customers, and shared customers.

Service Level Agreement (SLA) – An agreement between an IT service provider and a customer. The SLA describes the IT service, documents service level targets, and specifies the responsibilities of the IT service provider and the customer. A single SLA may cover multiple IT services or multiple customers.

Risk Management (RM) – Management of the risks to assets through the identification, selection and use of countermeasures, justified by the identified risks in terms of their potential impact upon services if a failure occurs, and the reduction of those risks to an acceptable level.

Stakeholder – All people who have an interest in an organization, project, IT service, etc. Stakeholders may be interested in activities, targets, resources, or deliverables. Stakeholders may include customers, partners, employees, shareholders, owners, etc.

Service Knowledge Management System (SKMS) – A set of tools and databases that are used to manage knowledge and information. The SKMS includes the configuration management system, as well as other tools and databases. The SKMS stores, manages, updates and displays all information that an IT service provider needs to manage the full lifecycle of IT services.

Business Relations Management (BRM) – The process or function responsible for maintaining a relationship with the business. Usually includes:

  • Managing personal relationships with business managers
  • Ensuring that the information technology service provider (ITSP) is satisfying customers’ needs.

ITIL Best Practices in Action

Many businesses and organizations implement ITIL to ensure they have a common vocabulary and methodology surrounding request fulfillment and incident response.

In higher education, increased demands for online and blended learning experiences have put pressure on higher-ed IT organizations, but their budgets are usually static or even decreasing. Adopting ITIL as part of an ITSM strategy can help alleviate some of the pressure felt by IT organizations in this position.

Yancy Philips, IT Team Director for Indiana State University, explained how their old basic ticketing system served its purpose, but could no longer support the university. “It served its purpose for many years,” he said “But as we started to adopt more ITIL best practices and worked to improve our service delivery, we knew we needed something more.”

That something more was TeamDynamix ITSM. “People are thrilled with our service now,” Philips says.

Likewise, in an ever-connected world, state and local governments need to provide new services and keep up with changing needs while often balancing tight budgets. Implementing IT Service Management best practices, including ITIL, can enable organizations to standardize and optimize the way they respond to the ever-increasing demand while keeping operational costs low and customer satisfaction high.

Dusty Borchardt, Business Systems Manager for Oklahoma City, said they adopted the ITIL framework more than 15 years ago, but needed the right ITSM tool to make a difference.

He explained that they’d had effective processes in place for a while, but they “haven’t had a decent toolset to manage them” until they utilized TeamDynamix’s ITSM platform. “TeamDynamix has brought simplicity to our operations,” Borchardt says. “This is the first IT Service Management platform we’ve implemented that everyone loves to use.”

Interested in learning more about ITIL best practices? Check out 4 ITIL Best Practices to Revive Your Service Management.