Everything You Need to Know About the ITIL Phases and Processes

ITIL, an acronym derived from the Information Technology Infrastructure Library, is a framework or set of standardized best practices followed in order to deliver IT management services most efficiently. The framework gives businesses a model to plan, execute and monitor/measure IT operations so that they align with the business requirement. ITIL is widely implemented today, because of the results it delivers and also because it is not specific to any organization, domain or technology. ITIL can be incorporated by any organization to streamline processes and tasks within IT service management.

The ITIL framework consists of 26 ITIL v3 Processes that are divided into 5 Stages/Phases of the service lifecycle. The 5 ITIL processes are:

  1. Service Strategy (SS)
  2. Service Design (SD)
  3. Service Transition (ST)
  4. Service Operation (SO)
  5. Continual Service Improvement (CSI)

These stages advance in a logical flow giving businesses a roadmap to optimally deliver IT services from planning to support, and each process within a stage provides the tools to successfully accomplish that stage. It’s important to note that ITIL provides a framework through processes and not a strict set of rules to be followed. Businesses do not need to execute every process within the ITIL model if it does not suit their needs, and the ITIL process flow is not particularly linear. In this article, we cover in detail the ITIL stages and the ITIL processes list.

The ITIL Phases and Processes

1.   Service Strategy

The service strategy is the foundation on which all other service lifecycle stages are developed. During this stage, the business determines how IT service management will be delivered. This is achieved by defining goals in line with the business, studying target markets and competitors, costs, schedules, risks, etc. The service strategy will outline the objectives of the ITIL Foundation. The ITIL processes and functions that are encompassed within this stage are:

  1. Service Portfolio Management

An organization’s service portfolio lists out all the services provided and are usually segregated into Service Pipeline, Service Catalog and Retired Services. This process enables a business to build their service portfolio by providing guidelines to define, evaluate, select and charter services.

  1. Financial Management

This process helps a business on the financial aspects of IT services management, like setting budgets, assigning costs to services in the portfolio, maximizing the value of services, etc. This is achieved through accounting, budgeting and charging.

  1. Demand Management

This process defines the current market or user demand for the service being provided. This process involves forecasting, analyzing target user profiles, creating differentiated service offerings, and managing operational demand.

  1. Strategy Management for IT Services

This process provides an outline to ensure daily activities are being optimally executed. This is achieved by assessing the strategy and operations, executing the developed strategy, measuring progress, evaluating results.

  1. Business Relationship Management

This is the final process in the service delivery stage and defines the business to customer relationship management strategy. It provides an outline for managing customer relationships, handling requests or complaints, etc. This is achieved through request and complaint handling, opportunity identification, and business relationship management.

2.   Service Design

The service design stage moves the strategy conceptualized in stage 1 into development. Based on the service portfolio and strategy, the processes, technologies, infrastructure, management systems, tools and products needed to deliver services to a customer are defined. The ITIL framework processes that are encompassed within this stage are:

  1. Design Coordination

The design coordination process helps businesses manage the service design stage optimally by providing methods to monitor the availability of resources and other service needs. This is achieved through the definition of policies and methods, resource and capability planning, design risk management, service design improvement.

  1. Service Level Management

This process involves defining measurable targets for service delivery called SLAs (Service Level Agreements), and the method of measuring results. This is achieved by drafting the SLAs, negotiating SLAs, standardizing SLAs, and monitoring and reporting performance.

  1. Service Catalog Management

This process ensures that the defined service catalogue is up to date with all the service offerings and that it is readily accessible by customers. This is achieved by documenting and describing the services, finalizing the catalogue content, producing and maintaining the service catalogue.

  1. Capacity Management

This process involves ensuring that all resources/processes are running at their optimal capacity in order to deliver services within the agreed SLAs. This is achieved by monitoring performance data, analyzing performance data, troubleshooting issues, altering capacity plans, optimizing capacity plans.

  1. Availability Management

This process involves ensuring that the defined and agreed upon services are available to the customer within the agreed-upon SLAs, at all times. This is achieved by monitoring availability, analyzing collected data, troubleshooting any downtime in the availability of a service, planning and improvement, reviewing and testing.

  1. Information Security Management

This process deals with the security of all customer data. It involves maintaining confidentiality, integrity, availability, authenticity, and nonrepudiation of data. This is achieved by defining security needs, drafting security policies, implementing security policies, risk assessment, reviews.

  1. Service Continuity Management

This process analyzes any risks or roadblocks to continuous service delivery. It involves setting fallbacks to ensure SLAs are being met. This is achieved by requirement development and continuity planning, setting up of said plans, implementing continuity plans as a fallback when needed.

  1. Supplier Management

Supplier management involves the management of all external vendors to ensure policies and agreements are being adhered to, and that their services are not negatively impacting internal SLAs. This is achieved by defining service/product requirements, supplier assessment, selecting suppliers, performance management, contract renewal or termination.

3.  Service Transition

The service transition stage involves implementing the new organizational services/processes for improved efficiency without disrupting existing, on-going services. The ITIL lifecycle processes that are encompassed within this stage are:

  1. Transition Planning and Support

This process involves the planning of implementing new services and the support/resources needed to execute the transition. This is achieved by creating the transition strategy, preparing existing processes and infrastructure for the transition, coordinating the transition, monitoring progress and reporting performance.

  1. Change Management

This process involves the management of change lifecycle to ensure no disruption to services and breach of SLAs. This is achieved by evaluating change implementation, predicting the performance post change, evaluating actual performance post change implementation.

  1. Service Asset & Configuration Management

This process involves the management of CIs (configuration items) related information like the owner, status, relationship between CIs, etc. This is achieved by planning, identifying CIs, controlling CIs, CI data accounting and recording, and verifying CI data.

  1. Release and Deployment Management

This process involves the management of releases outlined in the change, in order to ensure a successful transition and no downtime to on-going services. This is achieved by planning the release, building and testing the release, deployment, support, review, and closure.

  1. Knowledge Management

This process involves the gathering and storing of information for future technical and business support. Technical documents and knowledge base/archives are created in this process. This is achieved by defining the knowledge management plan, identifying knowledge sources and gathering data, drafting the knowledge base document, reviewing, editing, and publishing.

4.   Service operation

After strategizing, design and transition, businesses focus on day-to-day or BAU activities ensuring all services are being delivered within the agreed-upon SLAs. The ITIL service operation phase defines a framework for running daily operations at optimal capacity. The ITIL based processes that are encompassed within this stage are:

  1. Event Management

This process involves the tracking and monitoring of all service related events for analysis. This is usually achieved via management tools and involves event notification, event detection, event filtering, event categorization, reviewing, and closure.

  1. Incident Management

This process deals with events that are deemed liable to disrupt services or incidents. It provides a model for quick and successful incident resolution. This is achieved by registering incidents, categorizing them, investigation and diagnosis for cause, resolving the incident, and closure.

  1. Request Fulfillment

This process involves the resolution of service level requests that come in through the service desk. This is achieved by setting up a method for registering requests, validating them, categorizing and prioritizing, reviewing, authorizing, closure.

  1. Problem Management

This process involves the reviewing of past incidents and problems to put in place a strategy to prevent a recurrence. This is achieved by detecting and logging problems, categorizing, diagnosing, resolving, closing.

  1. Access Management

This process involves the provision and review of access to business assets. It is to ensure that each asset is given access only to authorized personnel. This is achieved by access requests, validation, provisioning of access, monitoring access rights, tracking access rights, and de-provisioning.

5.   Continual Service Improvement

The final stage of the ITIL model involves analyzing existing processes and identifying areas for improvement. This could mean improvements in processes, technology, services, policies, infrastructure, etc to better serve clients or better align to business requirements. The ITIL management processes that are encompassed within this stage are:

  1. Deming Cycle

The Deming Cycle is a model for continuous quality improvement. It consists of 4 repetitive logical steps: Plan, Do, Check (Study) and Act. Businesses can follow this model to bring in continuous improvement.

  1. CSI Model

Another method for service improvement defined in the ITIL framework is the 4 step CSI (Continual Service Improvement) Model: Service Review, Process Evaluation, Definition of CSI Initiatives, and Monitoring of CSI Initiatives.

  1. Seven-Step Improvement Process

Lastly, ITIL defines a 7-step process for service improvement: measure, collect data, process data, analyze data, extract insights, present solutions from insights, implement improvement.


Summarizing the ITIL model, it consists of 5 stages that move in sequential order, and each stage consists of ITIL processes and procedures that are executed through defined steps. The 5 ITIL stages provide businesses with a well-defined structure for IT service management. This structure allows businesses to operate within a predefined scope and this has proven to optimize delivery, reduce service downtime, and maintain positive customer relationships.