ITSM Vs ITIL: Differences And Relationship

In this period of digitalization, it is nearly impossible for an organization to survive without adopting business automation. Business automation means transforming an organization according to the requirements of the current environment. If an organization wants to compete with its rivals, then it must adopt business automation. Despite the competition, it has now become a necessity for the organization.

There are many tools, trends, and techniques to automate an organization. ITSM and ITIL are two terms that are very important and commonly used. Organizations often use them in their daily routine. In this article, we will discuss the concepts, differences, and relationship between ITIL and ITSM. We also look at whether they could work together or not. Before going into the details, firstly, we should know their basic concepts.

What Is ITSM?

Information technology service management is commonly known as ITSM. It includes all the processes of designing, creating, implementing, and improving IT service operations. ITSM believes that IT should be provided as a service. It usually manages all the processes of service management regarding IT. ITSM manages many processes of an organization, like Change Management, Problem Management, Request Management, Incident Management, Service Level Management, Configuration Management, Workflow Management, Improvement Management, and Talent Management.

What Is ITIL?

Information technology infrastructure library is commonly said as ITIL. It was introduced to standardize the IT services of an organization. It provides a detailed and complete step-by-step mechanism for the management of IT services. The Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency (CCTA) of the UK considered IT as a service and developed a methodology in 1989, which is called ITILv1. In 2000 CCTA was merged into the Office of Government Commerce, and this office released the ITILv2 in 2001.

ITILv3 was released in 2007 and updated in 2011. In 2013, The UK Cabinet Office and Capita PLC formed an organization named Axelos. Axelos released ITILv4 in 2017. ITILv4 is the most updated version of the information technology infrastructure library.

Differences Between ITSM And ITIL:

ITIL and ITSM seem to be similar concepts, but they are not. There are some similarities between them, but a large number of differences make them two different concepts. Following are the differences between ITSM and ITIL;

  • ITIL is one of the various frameworks that provide the best guidelines and practices for implementing IT service management. On the other hand,
  • ITSM aligns the use of these frameworks according to several business activities.
  • ITSM describes ‘What to do’ whereas ITIL describes ‘How to do.
  • ITSM usually implements in the overall organizational structure; on the other hand, ITIL is a collection of processes that are used to standardize IT service operations.
  • ITIL generally focuses on IT services, whereas ITSM has much wider ranges than ITIL. It not only deals with IT services but is also implemented in business fields.
  • ITSM is the set of methodologies that are used to provide a better experience to users, whereas ITIL provides the best practices of ITSM methodologies.
  • ITIL contains complete documentation that describes all processes in detail, but ITSM did not provide such detailed documentation.
  • ITIL was introduced in 1980, but the concept of ITSM is more ancient than ITIL.

Relationship Between ITSM And ITIL:

Despite so many differences, ITIL and ITSM also have a deep but symbolic relationship between them. If we define this relationship in simple words, we can say that they are complementary to each other. ITIL contains everything in a practical form that ITSM defined theoretically. In this way, ITIL embodied nearly all concepts of ITSM. In simple words, ITSM answers the question of what you should do to make your service management better, whereas ITIL defines how you could do the things that can make your service management better. We can barely say that ITIL is a practical form of ITSM.

The concept of ITSM was present before the origination of ITIL, but it was not so important and popular. ITIL causes an increase in the popularity and importance of ITSM. It is because ITIL provides a better practical form of ITSM. That’s why we said that ITSM and ITIL have a strong relationship between them.

ITIL And ITSM Together:

There is no sense in the question of whether ITSM and ITIL could work together or not. They could only work together. It means ITSM is not useful without any framework, and ITIL is the best framework for ITSM. On the other hand, ITIL provides the practical form of ITSM. Hence, you automatically adopt ITSM when you implement the ITIL framework in your organization. ITSM has many other frameworks, that’s why it could work without ITIL, but ITIL could not run without ITSM. In this way, we can say that they definitely can work together.


ITSM and ITIL are two famous, important, and commonly used terms in the service management field. After reviewing the basic concepts behind these terms, we came to know that they are two different but interrelated methodologies. Despite their differences, they also have a strong relationship between them. Due to this relationship they can give you a better result.

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