What is the difference between ITIL and ITSM?

What is the difference between ITIL and ITSM?

Introduction: What is the difference between ITIL and ITSM?

Introducing ITIL and ITSM into your business can lower your IT costs and ultimately produce higher returns on your IT investments. It is common for many working within the IT and software industries to get the two definitions confused, or perhaps use the terms interchangeably. That is why we have produced a quick article here to help demonstrate the difference between the two and offer some suggestion on how to integrate the two concepts into your business model. It is important to understand the differences between ITIL and ITSM, including the key differences.

ITIL: IT Infrastructure Library- A comprehensive suite of best practices/standards and an authoritative framework for ITSM

ITIL is an acronym that refers to a set of detailed practices that align your IT department with your business needs. ITIL assists you in your implementation of ITSM and therefore should be viewed as the ‘What’ of IT Service Management. ITIL is the industry standard, recommended best practices. These have evolved over time and are currently overseen by the UK body Axelos. Please see our article on why it is important to aligned your software solution by ITIL standards. 

ITSM: IT Service Management- The entirety of your activities for designing and implementing your IT services.

ITSM on the other hand simply refers to ‘How’ you implement all your activities regarding your IT needs within your organisation. These activities, or services as they are often known, can be for a range of issues within your company. It is important to remember that ITSM is not necessarily just about software tools, it is about the processes and people within your enterprise.

ITSM is about delivering IT services to internal ‘customers’, such as your Sales, Operations and HR teams for example. Software for example is a simply a component of an ITSM solution. The most well known of ITSM’s services are Service Operations issues such as Incident and Request management, and Service Transition issues such as Change Management or Project Management. These services can be implemented under the ITIL framework.


ITIL is simply the standard ITSM framework used by organisations across the globe. By adopting the standards and processes enshrined in both ITSM and ITIL, organisations are able to reduce their IT costs and establish well-defined, repeatable, and manageable IT processes that contribute to overall business objectives.