Critical to our ability to participate with and apply the concepts from the ITIL®® framework is the need to be able to speak a common language with other IT staff, customers, end-users and other involved stakeholders. This chapter documents the important common terminology that is used throughout the ITIL®® framework.

Care should be taken when attempting the ITIL® Foundation exam, as there will be a number of questions that seek to ensure the candidate has an effective grasp of the terminology used throughout the framework.



IT Service Management: A set of specialized organizational capabilities for providing value to customers in the form of services.
Capabilities: The ability of an organization, person, process, application, CI or IT service to carry out an activity. Capabilities can be described as the functions and processes utilized to manage services. These are intangible assets of an organization that cannot be purchased, but must be developed and matured over time. The ITSM set of organizational capabilities aims to enable the effective and efficient delivery of services to customers.
Resources: A generic term that includes IT Infrastructure, people, money or anything else that might help to deliver an IT service.  Resources are also considered to be tangible assets of an organization.
Process: A set of coordinated activities combining and implementing resources and capabilities in order to produce an outcome and provide value to customers or stakeholders.

Processes are strategic assets when they create competitive advantage and market differentiation. They may define roles, responsibilities, tools, management controls, policies, standards, guidelines, activities and work instructions if they are needed.

Service: A means of delivering value to Customers by facilitating outcomes customers want to achieve without the ownership of specific costs or risks. The role of the Service Provider is to manage these costs and risks appropriately, spreading them over multiple customers if possible.
Functions: A team or group of people and the tools they use to carry out one or more Processes or Activities. Functions provide units of organization responsible for specific outcomes. ITIL®® Functions covered include:

  • Service Desk
  • Technical Management
  • Application Management
  • IT Operations Management.
Process Owner: The person/role responsible for ensuring that the process is fit for the desired purpose and is accountable for the outputs of that process.

Example: The owner for the Availability Management Process

Service Owner: The person/role accountable for the delivery of a specific IT Service. They are responsible for continual improvement and management of change affecting Services under their care.

Example: The owner of the Payroll Service

Process Manager: The person/role responsible for the operational management of a process. There may be several managers for the one process. They report to the Process Owner.
Internal Service Providers: An internal service provider that is embedded within a business unit e.g. one IT organization within each of the business units. The key factor is that the IT Services provide a source of competitive advantage in the market space the business exists in.
Shared Service Providers: An internal service provider that provides shared IT service to more than one business unit e.g. one IT organization to service all businesses in an umbrella organization. IT Services for this provider don’t normally provide a source of competitive advantage, but instead support effective and efficient business processes across an organization.
External Service Providers: Service provider that provides IT services to external customers.

E.g. Providing internet hosting solutions for multiple customers.

Business Case: A decision support and planning tool that projects the likely consequences of a business action. It provides justification for a significant item of expenditure.  Includes information about costs, benefits, options, issues, risks and possible problems.
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