This year sees the publication of a new version of ITIL, the world’s leading best practice for IT service management (ITSM). The rollout of ITIL 4 will come in sections. In this blog, I want to give you an overview of what you’ll find in the just-now-released ITIL 4 Foundation.
ITIL 4 Foundation (publication and exams) will be available from February 2019. But this is just the initial release of ITIL 4, with further details to be released later in 2019, including additional publications and exams. You can read more about these future plans for ITIL 4 in my blog What’s Coming in ITIL 4?
The first thing you need to know about ITIL 4 is that it emphasizes the importance of value creation, rather than just delivering services.
ITIL 4 defines a service as:
“A means of enabling value co-creation by facilitating outcomes that customers want to achieve, without the customer having to manage specific costs and risks.”
The key to understanding what’s in ITIL 4 lies in understanding how the terms value, outcomes, costs and risks have been used, and how this is fundamental to delivering IT services.
The second thing that you need to know about ITIL 4 is that it describes four dimensions of service management that need to be considered to ensure that an organization adopts a balanced approach. These different dimensions, or perspectives, need to be included in any service design, in any service management design, and in any improvement plan. The four dimensions are:
The third thing you need to know about ITIL 4 is that it introduces the ITIL service value system (SVS), which is depicted in the diagram below.
The SVS challenges practitioners to think about how all the different components needed to deliver services can work together to help co-create value for customers. It encourages service providers to work flexibly and co-operatively to create value, instead of creating individual silos and focusing on optimizing what goes on inside them.
Instead of defining a rigid inflexible structure, the SVS shows how components can be combined together in different ways to suit the specific circumstances.
Let’s take a closer look at the components of the SVS.
As the above diagram shows, opportunity and demand are the triggers for everything a service provider does, and ultimately the service value system should result in the co-creation of value, for the service provider, their customers, and other stakeholders.
At the heart of the SVS is the service value chain, which describes six key activities needed to respond to demand and facilitate value realization.
The service value chain activities are:
But ITIL 4 does not just describe these key activities. It also provides guidance about how to plan, manage, and improve them.
The ITIL 4 guiding principles provide practical guidance on how organizations can plan and manage IT services. They can be used to guide decision making, to prioritize and select improvement opportunities, and to help an organization adopt the ideas from ITIL and adapt them to their specific circumstances. If you’re familiar with ITIL Practitioner then you may recognise the ITIL guiding principles, but they have been extended and updated for ITIL 4.
These guiding principles should not be treated separately; you need to think about all of them whenever you need to make a decision. You could even print them out on a big sheet of paper and stick them on the wall of your meeting room. Here they are:
1. Focus on value
Everything that the organization does needs to map, directly or indirectly, to creation of value for stakeholders. The most important of these stakeholders are the service consumers, but value for other stakeholders should also be considered.
2. Start where you are
Don’t start from scratch and build something new without considering what is already available. There is usually a great deal in the current services, processes, programs, projects, and people that can be reused.
3. Progress iteratively with feedback
Don’t try to do everything at once. Organize work into smaller, manageable sections that can be completed in a timely manner. Use feedback before, during, and after each iteration to ensure that actions are focused and appropriate, even if circumstances change.
4. Collaborate and promote visibility
Working together across boundaries produces results that have greater buy-in, more relevance to objectives, and increased likelihood of long-term success. Work and consequences should be made visible, hidden agendas avoided, and information shared to the greatest degree possible.
5. Think and work holistically
Outcomes will suffer unless the organization works on the service as a whole, not just on its parts. Results are delivered to customers through proper management and integration of information, technology, organization, people, practices, partners, and agreements, which should all be coordinated to provide value.
6. Keep it simple and practical
Use the minimum number of steps necessary to accomplish the objectives. Eliminate anything that doesn’t contribute to value-creation. Use outcome-based thinking to produce practical solutions that deliver results.
7. Optimize and automate
You should optimize your work, and eliminate waste, before you automate anything. Then use technology to achieve whatever it is capable of. Human intervention should only happen where it really contributes value.
To deliver great services, organizations need continual improvement for every aspect of the service management system. This includes improvement of the entire system, as well as of all the products, services, service components, people, practices, and relationships. ITIL 4 defines a continual improvement model that can help to guide and support improvement planning.
ITIL 4 also describes 34 practices that underpin and support the service value chain. These practices include many capabilities that will be familiar to people who studied earlier versions of ITIL, such as incident management, problem management, and release management; but there are also several new areas such as risk management, project management, and architecture management.
Practices are much more than just processes; they also include ideas from each of the four dimensions of service management (Organizations and People, Information and Technology, Partners and Suppliers, Value Streams and Processes).
The practices are grouped into three areas, but it’s important to realize that the practices are not independent. ITIL 4 describes how different combinations of practices work together to deliver value and discourages organizations from building silos around individual practices.
I am just going to list the practices here, because this blog is already far too long. I will be writing lots more about individual practices in future blogs.
Lastly, ITIL 4 recognizes that governance is an essential part of the service value system. Governance directs and controls the organization, ensuring that management activities are aligned with the overall goals and intentions.
As a member of the lead architecture team for ITIL 4, I’ve enjoyed working with a great team of people to develop this new version of ITIL. Previous ITIL updates helped organizations move from a process focus to a lifecycle focus, and ITIL 4 continues that journey with a greater focus on the end-to-end creation of value.
ITIL 4 builds on ideas and processes developed in those earlier versions of ITIL, but it takes a much broader view of ITSM – as it takes into consideration everything service providers and service consumers need to co-create value.
It’s important to point out that the ideas and concepts that you learned from ITIL V3 are still just as valid as they always were, but ITIL 4 helps you to tie them together as part of a service value system. If your organization embraces this updated approach you’ll find that you’ll be able to work with your customers to co-create value efficiently and effectively!