ITIL is the most popular and most widely adopted IT service management and best practice framework used in I.T Management globally. The next version of ITIL is version 4 bringing some much needed major changes in the concepts behind the ITIL framework. It introduces a holistic approach to service management which focuses on end to end service management from demand to value. ITIL was well overdue for an upgrade with its predecessor ITIL version 3 being released way back in 2011. The new and improved version of ITIL, Version 4 was released earlier this year and has undergone a significant overhaul aimed at modernising IT service management (ITSM) into a more agile, value-driven business asset.

ITIL processes and best practices have been a powerful tool for organizations to maintain and improve their service management for decades. Two of the biggest criticisms of ITIL though have been its relationship with the ITSM community and failure to keep up with recent trends in software development and IT operations. ITIL V4 addresses these by making this update community-driven and identifying Agile, DevOps, and Lean as key focus areas for integration with traditional ITIL best practices.

What’s new in ITIL V4?

ITIL V4 still includes a heap of those important elements from previous versions of ITIL that remain very much fundamental to service management and ITSM. But it also provides a new digital operating model – a basis that’s both practical and flexible, which is designed to help organisations on their digital journey.

Some key changes that will be found in the new framework are

  • The Four Dimensions
  • Service Value Stream
  • The Guiding Principles
  • A focus on the “co-creation of value”
  • The ITIL v3 processes are now ITIL V4 practices
  • Integration with other practices and new ways of working

The Four Dimensions

ITIL V4 is all about a holistic approach to service management. Because of this, the framework defines four dimensions that are critical to creating value for stakeholders including customers.

These four dimensions are

  1. Organisations and people – the corporate culture needs to support an organisation’s objectives and the right level of staff capacity and competency.
  2. Information and technology – this refers to the information, knowledge, and technologies that are needed for the management of services.
  3. Partners and suppliers – the suppliers that are involved in the design, deployment, delivery, support, and continual improvement of services and their relationship to the organisation.
  4. Value streams and processes – are the different parts of the organisation working in an integrated and coordinated way? This is important for the creation of value through products and services.
ITIL Four Dimensions

Service Value Stream

The service value system (SVS) is a new concept introduced in the new version and it is used to outline all the components and activities that work together for the creation of value. SVS can basically replace the well known ITIL service life-cycle but you can still, of course, use part of the original service management model if you wish. The SVS has interfaces with other organisations, and thus forms an ecosystem through which it can create value for those organisations, their stakeholders, and customers.

The service value chain is the centrepiece of the SVS. It’s a flexible operating model for creating, delivering, and continuous improvement services. There are six key activities within the service value chain: plan; improve; engage; design and transition; obtain/build, and deliver and support. These activities can be combined in different sequences. Therefore, the service value chain allows an organisation to define a number of variants of value streams, such as the service life-cycle from ITIL v3.

ITIL Service Value Chain

As the service value chain is flexible, it means that an organisation can effectively and efficiently react to changing demands from stakeholders.

The Guiding Principles

ITIL has always had a set of guiding principles as part of the framework. But instead of the original nine principles, there are now only 7. These Principles are used to help IT professionals adopt the framework to their own needs and circumstances. They should be followed at every stage of service delivery and enable professionals to approach and navigate difficult decisions.

The seven ITIL V4 guiding principles are:

  1. Focus on value
  2. Start where you are
  3. Progress iteratively with feedback
  4. Collaborate and promote visibility
  5. Think and work holistically
  6. Keep it simple and practical
  7. Optimise and automate.

A focus on the “co-creation of value”

In ITIL V4 there is a definition of the term Service and “what is considered a service. The new framework doesn’t focus on delivering services anymore. Instead of service, it now focuses on providing customer value. Providing value is not a one-way street, but something you do in co-creation with your customers. Customer experience is one of the most important outcomes.

Processes are now practices

The term process is still used in ITIL V4 when it relates to a workflow or process flow. In order for work/ process flows to be successful, there are other factors that are important such as capabilities or practices involved within the process. ITIL has previously used “processes” to manage IT services. The new version 4 framework expands the processes into “practices.” These share the same value and importance as the current processes. Through the processes, elements such as culture, technology, information, and data management can be considered to get a holistic vision of the ways of working.

Integration with other practices and new ways of working 

ITIL V4 will reflect other frameworks and integrate new ways of working including Agile, DevOps, Lean, IT governance and leadership. The guiding principles draw from proven ways of working and foster a customer-centric culture of collaboration, working holistically and gaining continual feedback.

Differences between ITIL V3 and ITIL V4

ITIL V4 is a refinement of ITIL V3, reflecting changes in the corporate culture where teamwork and intercommunication are given additional weight, integrating IT into the overall business structure. Here is a brief summary of the differences between the two versions:

Version 3/2011:

  • Life-cycle-based
  • Governance implicit
  • Principles introduced in 2015 with ITIL Practitioner
  • Suggested 1:1 relationship between service provider & value
  • Services deliver value
  • Process-centric
  • Definition of terms focus on services
  • Concept of VOCR (Value, Outcomes, cost & risk) added as complementary. It was implicit in ITIL; the focus was on services

Version 4

  • Explicit service value system (that includes governance)
  • Principle-based
  • Value is co-created
  • Value streams (think value stream mapping)
  • Four dimensions of service management link process to value streams
  • Three practice areas (practices, not processes): General management, service management and technical management
  • Definitions focus on value (and enabling value)
  • Services and products are considered
  • VOCR explicit

What will be the real value of ITIL V4?

Whilst ITIL V4 will provide familiarity and comfort in many areas of existing service management, the real value is in how this is now integrated with new ways of working and emerging practices. This provides current ITSM practitioners with a clear pathway to develop new skills and practices that are part of the DevOps and agile working world.

ITIL V4 takes the whole IT industry forward into digital transformation, DevOps, product management, cloud, artificial intelligence (AI), automation, and more in a welcoming and familiar landscape. For a new generation of digital professionals, ITIL V4 is also a holistic framework on which to build a broad and inclusive skill-set fit for the contemporary world.

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