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ITIL 4 was introduced earlier this year and makes important changes to earlier versions. Although we were only entitled to the first document on the foundation, we are able to understand the nature of these changes and what that will mean in the near future. Of course, it will be necessary to wait for other publications to really understand all the elements of ITIL 4, because I have personally read things that seem to contradict the interpretations of some analysts. That said, I think I can present this flyover with confidence. In a second article, I will look at more concrete examples of changes that ITIL 4 will allow you to address.
One of the first important topics for many is what happens to processes. Those who want to see the number processes reduced will be disappointed. First, and please take note of this, we do not speak any more of processes, but of practices. The habit of talking about practices instead of processes may take some time to take hold. But we are in IT, so we are used to changes. Why this change? It’s quite simple: a process alone cannot solve everything and must be surrounded by many other elements to work. For example, is there really incident management without a supporting management tools?
For my part, I like the new list of processes … or rather practices, which reflects, in my opinion, better the real environment in which the management of IT services navigates. Talking about practices makes sense on many levels. I think this new list could more easily allow us to step outside the framework of the 6 old traditional processes to explore new ones that are, in my opinion, highly relevant like “Relationship Management” or “Service Desk”. Other practices have been clarified, such as “Release”, which is more for services and software, and which pushed the hardware to “Deployment Management”. In my opinion, it was time to break this ambiguity.
A first philosophical change is the life cycle. It has been replaced by “Service Value System” which includes the “Service Value Chain”. The life cycle tended to include a notion of fluidity between the different processes, while the Service Value System emphasizes value co-creation for each ITSM practice.
ITIL v3 spoke about value creation, ITIL 4 focuses on co-creation. The Service Value System therefore describes a set of components and activities that will help an organization breakdown silos to work together, and by including service consumers, create more value in each delivered service.
At the heart of this “Service Value System” is the value chain which weaves a chain of non-linear activities that also allows the co-creation of value, but at a more concrete level. The life cycle of the service – which was the main areas (and publications) of ITIL strategy, design, transition and operation of the service, as well as continuous improvement of service (CSI) – can now be represented by the value stream. For each service, these different activities will be defined to ensure that the service created meets the expectations of customers. We can therefore see the value chain as a framework process for setting up each process.
The philosophical change comes from the emphasis that is now placed on value creation in a mode of collaboration that explodes the silos and brings us closer to those who consume our services.
For my part, it will be necessary to see how this system is detailed in the next publications to better understand the implications. For example, we know that each process / practice will have to be developed in the value chain. Each process and practice have a potentially different path. We will look at concrete examples in a future article.
However, even though trainers and consultants consider this to be a big step forward, I wonder what impact these changes will have on the level of ITSM practitioners who tend to produce processes without thinking too much about the value they bring. I believe this change is very beneficial and fits very well with a modern IT approach focused on customer success.
ITIL 4 introduces the concept of guiding principles. Well, not really, but not many people really looked at the “ITIL Practitioner Guidance Publication” from the previous version. That guide listed 9 guiding principles. There are now 7 that reuse some of the main principles of the previous guide.
You probably remember the 4Ps as People, Processes, Products and Partners. ITIL 3 reminded us to always take this into account in our activities. This is now replaced by the 4 dimensions of service management:
It is therefore a larger version of the 4 P and serves the same purpose. The idea is always to rely on these dimensions and their influencing factors to guide us in our activities.
One of the things that is always very complicated in organizations is to structure and ensure continuous improvement. To this end, ITIL proposes to convert continuous improvement into a distinct practice instead of being an omnipresent force that no one is responsible for. By making it a practice, it forces us to develop its value chain and, of course, an underlying process. In addition, ITIL 4 recommends we look at Lean, Agile or DevOps to find already existing approaches.
ITIL 4 teaches us that “continuous improvement is always the responsibility of everyone. Although a group of employees focuses on this full-time job, it is essential that all members of the organization understand that active participation in continuous improvement activities is an essential part of their work. In order to ensure that it is more than a good intention, it is wise to include a contribution to continuous improvement in all job descriptions and objectives of each employee, as well as in contracts with suppliers and external contractors.”
For my part, I think that ITIL takes a more mature stance and comes out of his troubled adolescence that was ITIL v3. This new version, with what we know today, seems to me better connected to reality, more open to other practices and especially more agile. In short, ITIL 4 becomes a management framework well into its time. Now, it remains to be seen what other publications, which will appear later this year, have in store to help us better understand how ITIL 4 will have tangible effects on our service management. But already, I allow myself to think that this impact will be positive and will have the effect of modernizing our beloved management framework.