Within the ITIL framework, there are many different terms for teams, people, jobs, roles and responsibilities and make sure you know the difference between them is important to understanding how it all works and slots together. A fairly underused term that has come to the fore is that of an “ITIL Function” rather than an ITIL role or group. What does this new term mean? Who does it refer to? Let’s look a little deeper.
By definition, a “Function” is an organizational entity, typically characterized by a special area of knowledge or experience. Examples would be a team operating the SAP environment, a software development department, or – to name a Function outside of the IT organization – a Human Resources (HR) department.
“Processes”, in contrast, are clusters of activities which produce a defined outcome, like the Incident Management process.
[via IT Process Maps]
So, an ITIL function can be seen as a group or collection of people performing a certain role, such as supporting the SAP system as in the example above. I guess we might also call this “teams” or “groups” in the real world. Another ITIL Function could be the service desk, incident management, a server installation team but not a group of senior IT managers. I see that a “function” is a team of people that “do something” rather than have responsibility for getting something done.
What does ITIL V3 say about the term ITIL Function?
ITIL v3 also defines the word “function” as follows, which differs to the “ITIL function” definition:
- An intended purpose of a Configuration Item, Person, Team, Process, or IT Service. For example: one Function of an Email Service may be to store and forward outgoing mails, one Function of a Business Process may be to dispatch goods to Customers.
- To perform the intended purpose correctly. “The computer is functioning”.
As stated earlier, when talking about parts of the ITIL framework, it is important to understand exactly what you are talking about. One person’s take on a term may be different to another. As I said on a earlier post, one of the benefits of ITIL is that we all begin to speak a common language so that any misunderstanding is kept to a minimum. You may find that the ITIL function phrase creeps in to conversation and documentation now an then, so it is important to know exactly what it means.