A guide to ITIL service operation in the ITIL framework

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 6 July 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Many businesses adopt the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) framework to support IT service management. ITIL service operation forms a substantial part of this framework and ensures an organisation's smooth and efficient delivery of IT services. Understanding service operation is worthwhile if you're responsible for delivering or managing IT services within the ITIL framework. In this article, we look at what ITIL service operation is and how it forms part of the ITIL framework.

What is the ITIL framework?

The ITIL framework is a framework of processes intended to ensure the smooth and effective delivery of IT services. Service operation is one prominent aspect of the framework. Effective IT services help businesses work efficiently and help support the organisation's overall goals. A British government agency originally created the framework in the 1980s, but businesses throughout the world now use it to manage IT operations. The basis of the framework is thorough research into implementation strategies and best practices for IT services.

What is ITIL service operation?

ITIL service operation is part of the ITIL framework that delivers IT services. It aims to deliver services in alignment with service level agreements. It has some specific functions and includes all the day-to-day activities, infrastructure and processes necessary for delivering services. Continually aiming to improve the service is another part of service operation. This often includes research and analysing information to decide where to make improvements. Service operation is vital for businesses because it helps employees to keep working effectively.

Related: What is a service level agreement? (With different types)

Functions of service operations in ITIL

These service operations have a few key functions. The functions work together to provide successful service management and operations and are present in any organisation using the ITIL framework. In some organisations, the different functions might all be part of the same team, but in others, they might be separate teams or departments. This is likely to depend on the size of the organisation and its individual needs. The functions include:

Service desk

The service desk is the customer-facing part of IT service operation. It acts as the contact point between service users and providers, helping to develop the organisation's IT services and meet the needs of users. The service desk is responsible for handling tickets, incidents and communication with service users, and it's also often responsible for a lot of incident management work. An effective service desk gives a positive impression of IT services and is the element of service operations that users are most likely to be familiar with.

Technical management

The technical management team supports IT services with in-depth technical skills and knowledge. This team assists with designing and testing new services and improving existing ones. The technical management team helps to keep the IT service provision stable and contributes to continually refining the services. Depending on the nature of IT services, the technical management team might consist of multiple teams or departments.

IT operations management

IT operations management is responsible for performing the day-to-day activities to successfully manage the organisation's IT infrastructure and operations. This is valuable because it ensures the ongoing success of IT operations. IT operations management within ITIL typically focuses on streamlining processes and routine tasks so that the IT provision remains consistent.

Related: What does an IT manager do? (With skills and responsibilities)

Application management

Application management allows the team to make informed decisions about buying or developing new services. This team plays a significant part in designing, testing and improving software and applications to make sure they meet organisational requirements. This function manages applications and software throughout its entire lifecycle. This includes initially identifying a need and making purchasing decisions.

Processes of service operation in ITIL

Service operation in ITIL also includes a number of defined processes that support the provision of IT services. The running of these processes can directly impact how users perceive IT services and contribute to how successful it is. As with the four key functions of service operation, these processes help to manage IT infrastructure effectively:

Event management

Event management is about dealing with a specific event throughout its whole lifecycle. This includes detecting and recording events before responding to them. This process ensures that events get a timely and appropriate response, reducing the risk of further harm or disruption. An event might be a routine update or an unusual activity that suggests there's an issue with the system that needs urgent attention.

Incident management

Incident management helps to promptly restore disrupted systems and return services to normal levels. This process is important because it minimises disruption to the business. Ongoing disruption could have a significant impact on business operations. It involves identifying, logging and resolving issues as quickly as possible so that users can continue working. Incident management requires a fast response because incidents can occur at any time and require rapid resolutions.

Problem management

The problem management process aims to find the cause of a problem and respond proactively to lower the risk of the issue happening again. Problem management is important for creating a stable and reliable IT infrastructure. Problem management is also essential to improving IT services and can help identify areas that need development.

Request fulfilment

Request fulfilment handles tickets and service requests. These are small changes with a low level of risk to the business, such as changing user passwords and creating new user accounts. These processes are typically outside of the organisation's core business. Despite this, they're still essential to maintaining productivity. To maintain good service levels, it's important teams address these requests quickly and efficiently and communicate effectively with service users.

Access management

Access management involves granting user access and permissions and preventing unauthorised users from accessing the organisation's services. It's sometimes also known as rights management or identity management. It relates to information management and IT security, helping organisations maintain a secure environment that protects sensitive information. Most organisations have access to some sort of sensitive information, so careful access management is vital to avoid data breaches.

Common tasks in service operation

Service operation in the ITIL framework involves different tasks depending on the nature of the organisation and its demands. There are some tasks that are routinely part of service operation work, regardless of the nature of the organisation, including:

IT operations

Day-to-day IT operations are a substantial part of service operation. The processes of service operation relate closely to routine IT operations. IT operations are usually centrally coordinated. Much of IT operations involve standard tasks to keep the system running effectively, ensuring that employees can continue working.

Monitoring and controlling

Monitoring and controlling means continually monitoring services and reporting and resolving events or problems. This can include tracking metrics related to key performance indicators and proactively resolving issues. Monitoring and controlling might also involve generating reports about performance and sharing the information with managers or other employees.

Mainframe management

Larger organisations might use a central mainframe computer. If this is the case, service operation is also responsible for managing it. Mainframe management tasks include maintenance, system programming and problem support. In some organisations, one specific team might be responsible for mainframe management. In others, this work may be split between several IT teams or departments.

Server management

Managing the server is also part of service operations. The server is essential for most organisations to work effectively, so careful management is essential to the success of IT services and the organisation in general. Server management teams undertake various tasks, including operating system support, server support and maintenance, maintaining server security and providing procurement advice for servers and related equipment.

Related: Highest paying IT jobs in the UK (with job duties)

Network management

Network management is another part of service operations. Effective network management ensures consistent connectivity, which allows employees to work efficiently. This activity involves planning and installing new networks and upgrades, maintenance and delivering support for network issues. It also involves monitoring and controlling network traffic.

Related: What does a network engineer do? (Plus how to become one)

Why are service operations in ITIL important?

These operations are important because they include the customer-facing parts of the ITIL framework. Service operations are how users interact with IT services. The effectiveness of service operations can impact how users perceive IT services and the organisation's IT provision. Service operations also provide value for organisations, helping businesses work effectively with appropriate software, applications and processes. The success of service operations also shows how much value IT services bring to the business due to the efficiency and effectiveness of their processes and functions.

Explore more articles