ITIL 4: An Overview of the Service Management Framework Update

Recently the ITIL service management framework underwent a pretty big update—its first since 2011—and it’s safe to say there are some fairly hefty changes involved that are worth exploring.

One of those hefty changes is actually given away in the title of this post (it’s no mistake that we haven’t referred to it as an IT service management framework). ITIL is now a service management framework which promotes holistic working, bringing IT in line with the rest of the business.

Now, ITIL has its lovers and its haters but here at Mint Service Desk we’re very much on the lovers side. We’ve spent the last month getting to grips with what the latest version of the framework is all about, and now that we’ve got our heads around it, we thought we’d sum it up for you with an overview of the big ticket changes.

Collaboration in ITIL 4

As we’ve already alluded to in the introduction to this post, ITIL 4 focuses on working together. One of the new guiding principles (which we’ll cover shortly) is to ‘collaborate and promote visibility’.

When organizations break down silos and collaborate great things can happen. You see working in silos it can be easy to lose sight of the big picture, instead, individual team goals are the focus and often these fail to work towards the company vision. What’s more, these individual teams then don’t consider the goals of the other teams around them which can be a catalyst for conflict.

ITIL 4 Introduces the Service Value System

In the new ITIL 4 foundation book it says that ‘for service management to function properly it needs to work as a system’. It makes sense then to follow that claim with a system that organizations can use for their service management ventures. And so, ITIL 4 brings to us the service value system (SVS) which helps organizations to deliver value by explaining how the different components of an organization can work together in … well, a system.

Internal and external opportunities and demands of the organization are fed through the system which-using the ITIL guiding principles and practices along with continual improvement and governance focus-come out the other side in the form of products/services that deliver value to all stakeholders.

In the center of the SVS is the ‘service value chain’ which is integral to the system (all demands and opportunities that are selected for action must go through the value chain).

This chain includes key activities an organization should undertake in order to create products and services that deliver value. Essentially then, the service value chain turns inputs into outputs the outcome of which is (hopefully) value for the organization and all of its stakeholders.

The SVS has been put together to discourage siloed working and promote flexibility. There isn’t one single way to use the system, it can be adapted to various needs which means it helps organizations to evolve as and when they need to.

ITIL 4 and the Four Dimensions of Service Management

The four dimensions of service management focus on culture, technology, knowledge, relationships, and of course, delivering value. They promote a holistic work environment and should be used in line with the SVS to make sure it remains useful.

The four dimensions should all be consulted for every service and can help prevent organizations from losing focus of particular areas which could result in failure to meet expectations.

Below are the four dimensions along with a quick look of what they mean.

1 - Organizations and People

This dimension recognizes that organizations are getting more complicated which calls for structure, authority, communications and roles and responsibilities to be ‘well defined and supportive of the overall strategy and operating model.’

2 - Information and Technology

The dimension of information and knowledge required in order to manage services along with what technologies are needed. Because the framework is flexible this dimension is used to think about new technologies too and how they might help or hinder the delivery of current business services.

3 - Partners and Suppliers

Or to be more precise, the relationships between the organization and its partners and suppliers. This supports various relationships from formal contracts to more flexible, collaborative approaches.

4 - Value Streams and Processes

In line with the whole holistic way of working this dimension concentrates on various areas of an organization working together in an ‘integrated and coordinated way to enable value creation through services.’

ITIL 4 and the Seven Guiding Principles

If you’re a true ITIL nut you’ll be aware of the nine guiding principles that were introduced in the ITIL Practitioner publication. For ITIL 4 these principles remain but they’ve been given a bit of a makeover. Now there are seven but the idea behind them is the same: ‘to guide an organization in all circumstances, regardless of changes in its goals, strategies, type of work, or management structure.’ ITIL says that a guiding principle is ‘universal and enduring’ - whatever changes are happening and whatever the circumstances, the guiding principles can be referred to at any point and indeed, should be consulted often to make sure everything is heading in the right direction.

Let’s take a look at what they are and what they mean.

Focus on Value

ITIL 4 pushes focus on value, not just customer value but value to the organization itself and all groups of stakeholders. This should be the common goal that all teams work toward together.

Start Where You Are

ITIL doesn’t want you to scrap what you’ve got or wait until things are ready (because they never will be), just start with what you’ve got now and build on it.

Progress Iteratively With Feedback

Sounds like Agile? That’s because it is. Big projects used to be the way to go but the problem with them is that they can be incredibly costly and often the final goal gets lost in the process resulting in an outcome that doesn’t deliver value.

Getting feedback along the way means that teams can consistently check whether or not the project is on target and by progressing in small stages it’s easy (and cheaper) to erase what’s not working before continuing on.

ITIL 4 sees itself as a framework that can be integrated with other service management models so as that companies can switch what they follow in order to use what’s best for them in the moment.

Collaborate and Promote Visibility

Whatever is going on inside an organization it pays to work together and be transparent. Trust is becoming increasingly important and the modern employee isn’t likely to thrive in a culture of secrecy.

Think and Work Holistically

Maybe you’re tired of hearing the H word by now but the holistic approach is a mega part of this update which is why we keep referring to it. It’s time to stop working in silos and start working as one big function with each teams’ goals and objectives working together towards the company vision.

Keep It Simple and Practical

Organizations themselves are complex enough without processes and practices complicating everything. Simplicity is where it’s at in an environment that needs to be able to adapt and evolve quickly.

Optimize and Automate

Speed is of the essence in the digital age. Automation is encouraged so processes run quickly and accurately, and humans can get involved in more value-adding tasks instead of wasting time on repetitive, manual processes.

ITIL 4 Brings In Practices

ITIL 4 introduces 34 practices, many of these are not exactly new having made appearances in previous versions of ITIL (like incident management), others have been updated (change management is now known as change control), but some are totally new too (like risk management and IT asset management).

Now, you might know these practices as processes, the ITIL 4 update has changed the name because ‘processes’ doesn’t quite do them justice (they have processes within them but as a whole they’re so much more).

Although these 34 practices are split into three main categories ITIL 4 shows us how different practices can work together and discourages working each practice independently of one another.

For your viewing pleasure here is the full list of ITIL 4 practices:

General Management Practices

  • Architecture management
  • Continual improvement
  • Information security management
  • Knowledge management
  • Measurement and reporting
  • Organizational change management
  • Portfolio management
  • Project management
  • Relationship management
  • Risk management
  • Service financial management
  • Strategy management
  • Supplier management
  • Workforce and talent management

Service Management Practices

  • Availability management
  • Business analysis
  • Capacity and performance management
  • Change control
  • Incident management
  • IT asset management
  • Monitoring and event management
  • Problem management
  • Release management
  • Service catalogue management
  • Service configuration management
  • Service continuity management
  • Service design
  • Service desk
  • Service level management
  • Service request management
  • Service validation and testing

Technology Management Practices

  • Deployment management
  • Infrastructure and platform management
  • Software development and management

The release of ITIL 4 is very new at this stage, the foundation book is now available to buy and foundation exams can be taken. Further updates are due later in the year which will include updates for intermediate and expert certifications.

Mint Service Desk is an AI-assisted ITSM tool that aligns itself with the ITIL best-practice framework. For more information on the features our tool offers, please visit our website.