ITIL 4 Foundation an Introduction to a New Way of Thinking

I’ve long been a proponent of ITIL and the best practices it engenders within organizations. The concepts of change management and release management are ideas I’ve eagerly grasped and implemented to help me solve real-world problems. I’ve used the basic information and guidance provided in the foundation modules to help grow and mature my incident and problem management team, helping improve resolution times and quality, directly impacting the overall customer experience. To say I’m a fan of ITIL doesn’t give my feelings justice.

With the advent of ITIL 4 and its revisions to the ITSM service model, I was curious to find out what changed and what stayed the same. While the world has changed radically since ITIL 3 was released, how have these changes impacted how we work?

Digital Transformation

ITIL v3 was released in 2007 and updated in 2011. As you can well imagine, a decade in the technology industry is an enormous span of time. Over that period, an area that’s come to have significant prominence is digital transformation.

Digital transformation involves using digital technology within a business, changing how the organization operates and delivers value to its clients. Digital technology is not simply limited to technology — it also impacts a company’s culture and underlying procedures and processes. This shift requires companies to continually experiment and challenge the status quo. Failure is acceptable if it helps teach and lead to eventual success.

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The pace of digital transformation is not uniform around the world. According to the McKinsey Global Institute‘s Industry Digitization Index, Europe is currently operating at 12% of its digital potential, while the United States is operating at 18%.

An excellent example of digital transformation is the growth of SaaS and cloud computing. For businesses, using cloud hardware and software removes the reliance and upfront cost of purchasing. The businesses providing SaaS solutions guarantee uptime and regular maintenance, further reducing internal IT expenses.

Digital transformation lets companies leverage the changes made available through modern technology to work more efficiently and effectively. ITIL 4 talks about this new way of working and helps detail practices for IT service management that place an emphasis on aligning IT services with an organization’s business needs.

IT Service Management

Within the context of ITIL, the phrase service management has a specific definition and discusses how organizations use their capabilities to provide value to customers through using services. The keyword here is – value, but the word itself has many different meanings based on the individual.

To some, it is the cost of an item, while for others it is the quality of the item itself or the benefits it provides. There is no one simple definition of value as to a large extent it varies based on the needs and expectations of the customer. One way that this has been seen is the increasing “value” organizations are placing on customer experience and how a more personalized journey can drive growth.

It is important to understand that the value of something varies based on an individual’s needs and requirements. ITSM or IT Service Management is how service management and value generation are applied to IT service. Improving efficiencies and removing risks, as well as the creation of new opportunities, can increase value.

Understanding Value

In life, it isn’t always possible to have everything despite the best of intentions. You might have heard the phrase – “Fast, Cheap or Good? Pick Two.”? If this seems at all familiar to you’ll understand that doing it all requires sacrifice and choices. It’s essential to pick the two that are most critical and to be flexible with the third.

  • Quick + Cheap = Inferior Quality or Less Features
  • Quick + High Quality = Not Cheap
  • High Quality + Cheap = Not Quick or Not Possible

From the point of view of value, the criteria are Quality, Cost and Speed.

  • Quality is built around the customer’s expectations and requirements. Quality is about the service that the business delivers to its customers and includes how the customer uses the service and its overall performance.
  • Cost is not always a matter of how much something is. It also encompasses time and resources and is measured by how much the customer is willing to pay.
  • Speed is all about how fast a service needs to be delivered to customers. The speed at which customers expect to receive their service is only increasing, adding pressure to businesses.

Cost, Speed, and Quality need to be weighed equally based on an organization’s capabilities and the customer’s needs. Cost may be a crucial dimension during an economic recession or to a customer experiencing financial hardship. In contrast, quality may matter more to a financially stable customer or when the economy is good. Value is something that has customers at its core. 

Service management is a set of specialized organizational capabilities for enabling customer value in the form of services. ITSM applies service management… and involves an understanding of the nature of value, the nature and scope of the stakeholders involved, and the approaches that enable value creation through services

ITIL has always emphasized the importance of the customer, but they now give the customer even more weight. I’ve long believed that customers and customer experience are a key differentiator for businesses, so it’s really nice to see that this is being reflected and acted upon in a more concrete manner.

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