ITIL 4 Best Practices and Guiding Principles

ITIL 4 Best Practices and Guiding Principles

ITIL 4 is here, and with it comes many questions from software developers, IT providers, and project managers alike. You may be wondering what ITIL 4 is, what to expect in the ITIL 4 update, what the difference is between ITIL 3 and 4, or how to put ITIL 4 principles into practice.

For those that already know or have certifications in ITIL 3, ITIL 4 brings some long-awaited improvements. Many of the same concepts go by new names and are more inclusive. If you are new to ITIL, it is the perfect time to get yourself up to speed as ITIL 4 continues to roll out.

This guide to ITIL 4 will help you learn everything you need to know for successful ITIL 4 software development and management.

What Is ITIL?

The acronym “ITIL” stands for Information Technology Infrastructure Library. Simply put, ITIL is a set of best practices meant to guide IT management for organizations. Much like Lean Six Sigma, ITIL guides process improvement for organizations. ITIL focuses directly on processes related to Information Technology Services.

Think of ITIL as a common language for IT teams. It provides them with the tools for collaboration to bring value across organizations. ITIL sets the global standard for IT Service Management best practices. Ninety percent of Financial Times Stock Exchange 500 companies depend on ITIL.

Born out of the British government’s Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency, ITIL was developed to catalog IT best practices. At its beginning in the 1980s, ITIL was a collection of 30 volumes. Influenced by IBM’s Yellow Books on systems management, these are fundamentals we still use today.

After decades of refinement, ITIL was condensed into five books. The first book, ITIL Foundation, is available now. The other four books — “Create, Deliver and Support,” “Drive Stakeholder Value,” “High Velocity IT,” and “Direct, Plan and Improve” — offer more advanced training and are set for release in January 2020.

What Is New in ITIL 4?

What Is New in ITIL 4?

Disruption continues to shape the technological landscape. ITIL 4 is the next evolution in the IT management framework. One of the key changes in ITIL 4 that allows it to keep pace with the digital world is integration. The updated ITIL now works with Agile, DevOpsLean, and other modern workplace systems.

There are three main differences between ITIL 4 and ITIL 3. Here are some components of ITIL 3 that have transitioned with the introduction of ITIL 4:

  • The 36 Processes, organized into five lifecycle segments
  • The Service Management Lifecycle
  • The Four P’s of Service Design

In ITIL 4, these aspects have evolved into:

  • The 34 Practices, organized into three types of practices
  • The Service Value Chain
  • The Four Dimensions of Service Management

These elements of ITIL 4 grew out of ITIL 3. Each of these improvements makes ITIL 4 more versatile. ITIL 4 has also introduced several new concepts, including:

  • Value co-creation: Value co-creation is the way all the operations and resources of an organization create value. With co-creation, the service provider and the consumer come together to create value. They co-create value. ITIL 4 asks IT professionals to take a collaborative approach to customer service.
  • Service relationship model: The service relationship model is the relationship service providers have with their consumers. For example, organization A provides a service to organization B, who offers a different service to Organization C. Because it both consumes and provides services, Organization B has a service relationship with both organizations.
  • Value, outcomes, costs, and risks: To check how a software product or service offers value to a consumer, IT professionals examine outcomes, costs, and risks. The outcome has a tangible output, such as an application, but also fills a need, such as organizing photos. The cost, as opposed to value, is the sum of money spent. Risk is both the possibility of an event that causes harm or difficulty and the chances for success.
  • Value streams: Value streams are a series of steps an organization takes to provide services. There are many possible value streams an organization can undertake. The more services and values the company provides, the more value steams it generates.
  • The guiding principles: The guiding principles are a set of seven tenets, revised from previous versions of ITIL. Together, they create a culture for success. These principles borrow from Agile, Lean, and DevOps. They are broad-reaching and flexible.
  • General management practices: New additions include Architecture Management, Organizational Change Management, Risk Management, Measurement and Reporting, Project Management, and Workforce and Talent Management.
  • Technical management practices: New additions include Software Development and Management and Infrastructure and Platform Management.

Practices vs. Processes

The new ITIL is adaptive and flexible. The ITIL 3 framework described its core approach with the term “processes.” The ITIL 4 guidelines instead use “practices.” Practices include other details like data management, technology, and culture. For example, take Incident Management, one of ITIL 3’s most commonly used processes. But, it’s not one process. You approach a broken printer one way and an error message on a computer application in another.

So, ITIL 4 treats Incident Management with the separate, adjustable workflows it requires. In ITIL 4, the Incident Management Practice covers all the resources — which includes processes, and also information and technology, people, and partners — used to resolve incidents.

No longer bound by step-by-step processes, software developers can approach their work holistically. 

The Service Value System

One of the most significant evolutions in ITIL 4 is the Service Value Chain. In ITIL 3, the Service Management Lifecycle constituted these five steps:

  1. Service Strategy
  2. Service Design
  3. Service Transition
  4. Service Operation
  5. Continual Service Improvement

Many IT service providers felt constrained by ITIL 3’s Service Lifecycle. The framework of ITIL 3 requires that one completes each step in a sequence, which is not always possible. So, one of the major differences of ITIL version 4 versus ITIL version 3 is the Service Value Chain (VC).

The ITIL 4 Service Value Chain uses activities as opposed to stages, which offers more flexibility. These six activities work in any order:

  • Plan
  • Design and Transition
  • Obtain/Build
  • Improve
  • Engage
  • Deliver and Support

The activities of the value chain can be combined as your team sees fit. The ways we connect, revisit, and deepen these practices create unique value for organizations. The more objectives an organization undertakes, the more value stream pathways emerge. 

The Service Value Chain is one piece that makes up The ITIL Service Value System. This system encompasses how an organization does things, makes decisions, improves processes, ensures accountability, and works through approaches. Altogether, the Service Value System creates a network that interconnects the Service Value Chain, the Guiding Principles, Continual Improvement, Governance, and Practices.

Think of the Service Value System as a spider web. Each thread draws a path between the elements of the service chain, the guiding principles, practices, and more. Each pathway represents a value stream.

The Service Value System encourages a holistic approach to IT Systems Management. Since value is paramount, this system promotes streamlined value streams.

The Four Dimensions of ITIL 4

The Four Dimensions of ITIL 4

In ITIL 3, the Four P’s of Service Design — People, Processes, Products, and Partners — only apply to the Design Phase of the Service Lifecycle. ITIL 4 expands these into dimensions and applies them to all aspects of the value chain.

The Four Dimensions of ITIL 4 are:

  1. Organization and people: A company’s culture as well as the number and fluency of its staff makes up this dimension. Each of these factors contributes to an organization’s objectives. Corporate culture impacts job turnover, and employees’ receptiveness to change.
  2. Value streams and processes: To have value, all the mechanisms of an organization must be coordinated and interconnected. Here, the key to success is ensuring IT handles requests quickly and co-creates value with consumers.
  3. Partners and suppliers: Organizations should vet suppliers and partners. There are many vendors for outsourced IT professionals, cloud storage services, and more. Choosing the right suppliers ensures success throughout the company.
  4. Information and technology: In the information age, institutional knowledge, industry secrets, and proprietary technology are vital.

These four dimensions are essential in the design, planning, delivery, and management of every service. Each of these dimensions needs adequate attention and resources devoted to them.

The Guiding Principles

In ITIL 4, there are seven guiding principles. These standards govern how organizations make decisions. ITIL 4 keeps these items broad and flexible, so any company can adapt them to their needs.

The seven guiding principles of ITIL 4 are:

  1. Focus on value: Placing value above all else means communicating services in a way that is intuitive to customers. Consumers should find working with IT streamlined and straightforward. They know what number to call, they receive helpful service, and their issues are resolved quickly. To co-create value, IT professionals seek to understand their customer’s perspectives and challenges.
  2. Start where you are: Rather than cultivating many practices at once, an organization should make small, continuous improvements. To avoid redoing work, teams check in with one another before starting new projects or building new templates. The company looks for places and processes where things are running efficiently and seeks to replicate it elsewhere.
  3. Progress iteratively with feedback: When faced with large projects, teams break them down into smaller steps. As each stage is underway, teams seek internal and customer feedback. The organization celebrates a culture of learning from failure and data-driven success. Software developers create prototypes often.
  4. Collaborate and promote visibility: Team members seek to share their discoveries and experience. Information is shared across departments and kept up-to-date, so everyone can benefit. The organization encourages mentorship and informal training.
  5. Think and work holistically: Leaders bring new people together through cross-functional teams, collaborative spaces, and centers for excellence.
  6. Keep it simple and practical: Teams manage time by limiting meetings and keeping them focused. Organizations work to improve, streamline, and simplify processes. Communication is easy to understand, and directions are clear. Teams take on projects they can complete on time.
  7. Optimize and automate: Many mundane and repetitive tasks take up a lot of team members’ time. These tasks can often be automated through technology, saving time and resources.

How to Put ITIL 4 Principles Into Practice

These seven principles will improve your IT Department and systems management. Implementing ITIL 4 principles takes time. They need a robust culture of change, where teams work together with customers and coworkers, maximize their time, and simplify procedures.

If you want to align your organization with these guidelines, you should first take stock of which principles your team already embodies and which fit in well with your culture. 

Here are some tips for implementing some of ITIL 4’s management practices:

1. Create Better Outcomes

Create Better Outcomes

What does your service desk prioritize? When you rank the incoming requests first, it becomes more challenging to finish long-term projects. The more you can focus on your business goals, the fewer of these difficulties arise. If your consumers always ask how to find software settings, then overhaul your software’s hierarchy of information and user-interface. When you meet this goal, you’ll get fewer of these customer issues moving forward.

Another way to focus on outcomes is to take a look at your value streams. Map out what happens when a request arrives at your service desk. How many steps does it take? Who does the request get sent to? Lay out each point on post-it notes or draw them out on a whiteboard, which helps you visualize the workflow within your IT team. You’ll see where projects get stuck and what can get automated.

2. Emphasize Culture and Practices

Shared values align your team, invite collaboration, and attract and retain top talent. The guiding principles listed in ITIL 4 are all aspects of a healthy work culture. So, start by evaluating your culture. Are your organization’s values in line with ITIL’s guiding principles? Does your IT department have its own values? Look for places to apply these tenets.

A leader must embody the values they wish to cultivate. So, encourage new ideas, support mentorship and collaboration, give actionable feedback, and respect your team’s time.

Rather than limiting teams to hard rules, create adaptable practices. Look for the best solutions, not the best methods for reaching them. Support continuous improvement by asking consumers for feedback, and be open to suggestions.

3. Integrate ITIL 4 With Agile and DevOps

One of the most exciting updates to ITIL is its collaboration with other process improvement methods. Between DevOps and Agile, both ways of working are simple, adaptable, and focused on the consumer.

Agile supports continuous improvement with a people-centered approach to team meetings. The method helps team members reflect on their practices and look towards the future. DevOps automates many tasks, giving software developers more time and creativity.

Get Certified Today

Get Certified Today

With a new iteration of ITIL, it is crucial to update your certification. ITIL certifications are still valid, but Axelos recommends transitioning your certification to ITIL 4. As a company founded on continuous improvement, simplified processes, and driving efficiency, Business Transformation Institute, Inc. is proud to offer an ITIL/ITSM Certification that can help your service department trim the fat and create better, more useful practices across your IT department.

If you want to get your company ITIL/ITSM certified, contact us today.


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