ITIL Dictionary of Terms

A - Z Dictionary of terms for ITIL. This is the official Dictionary of terms for ITIL, which is a set of practices for IT Service Management. ITIL® is a registered trade mark of AXELOS Limited. View the Agile Dictionary. Managing Successful Programmes (MSP) Dictionary. Project Office Dictionary (P30). Full PRINCE2 glossary of terms. See also Risk Management Dictionary.

A - acceptance to availability plan | B - back-out to business unit | C - call to customer-facing service | D - dashboard to driver | E - early life support (ELS) to external service provider | F - facilities management to functional escalation | G - H - gap analysis to hot standby | I - identity to ITIL | J - K - job description to known error record | L - lifecycle to live environment | M - maintainability to monitoring | N - near-shore to notional charging | O - objective to overhead | P - pain value analysis to PRojects IN Controlled Environments (PRINCE2) | Q - qualification to quick win | R - RACI to running costs | S - Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) to system management | T - tactical to Type III service provider | U - underpinning contract (UC) to utility | V - validation to vulnerability | W - warm standby to workload

O - objective to overhead


The outcomes required from a process, activity or organization in order to ensure that its purpose will be fulfilled. Objectives are usually expressed as measurable targets. The term is also informally used to mean a requirement.

off the shelf

Office of Government Commerce (OGC)

OGC (former owner of Best Management Practice) and its functions have moved into the Cabinet Office as part of HM Government. See


(ITIL Service Strategy) Provision of services from a location outside the country where the customer is based, often in a different continent. This can be the provision of an IT service, or of supporting functions such as a service desk. See also near-shore; onshore.


(ITIL Service Strategy) Provision of services from a location within the country where the customer is based. See also near-shore; offshore.


To perform as expected. A process or configuration item is said to operate if it is delivering the required outputs. Operate also means to perform one or more operations. For example, to operate a computer is to do the day-to-day operations needed for it to perform as expected.


(ITIL Service Operation) Day-to-day management of an IT service, system or other configuration item. Operation is also used to mean any predefined activity or transaction – for example, loading a magnetic tape, accepting money at a point of sale, or reading data from a disk drive.


The lowest of three levels of planning and delivery (strategic, tactical, operational). Operational activities include the day-to-day or short-term planning or delivery of a business process or IT service management process. The term is also a synonym for live.

operational cost

The cost resulting from running the IT services, which often involves repeating payments – for example, staff costs, hardware maintenance and electricity (also known as current expenditure or revenue expenditure). See also capital expenditure.

operational expenditure (OPEX)

operational level agreement (OLA)

(ITIL Continual Service Improvement) (ITIL Service Design) An agreement between an IT service provider and another part of the same organization. It supports the IT service provider's delivery of IT services to customers and defines the goods or services to be provided and the responsibilities of both parties. For example, there could be an operational level agreement:  Between the IT service provider and a procurement department to obtain hardware in agreed times  Between the service desk and a support group to provide incident resolution in agreed times. See also service level agreement.

operations bridge

(ITIL Service Operation) A physical location where IT services and IT infrastructure are monitored and managed.

operations control

operations management

opportunity cost

(ITIL Service Strategy) A cost that is used in deciding between investment choices. Opportunity cost represents the revenue that would have been generated by using the resources in a different way. For example, the opportunity cost of purchasing a new server may include not carrying out a service improvement activity that the money could have been spent on. Opportunity cost analysis is used as part of a decision-making process, but opportunity cost is not treated as an actual cost in any financial statement.


Review, plan and request changes, in order to obtain the maximum efficiency and effectiveness from a process, configuration item, application etc.


A company, legal entity or other institution. The term is sometimes used to refer to any entity that has people, resources and budgets – for example, a project or business unit.


The result of carrying out an activity, following a process, or delivering an IT service etc. The term is used to refer to intended results as well as to actual results. See also objective.



Copyright © AXELOS Limited 2012. All rights reserved. Material is reproduced with the permission of AXELOS