How ITIL 4 Enhances Service Management

InvGate January 8, 2020
- 5 min read

ITIL and service management go hand-in-hand. But it’s important to understand that they aren’t the same thing and that the terms can’t be used interchangeably – whether it’s service management per se or IT service management (ITSM). An easy way to view this is that while ITIL is a body of service management best practice, not all service management is based on ITIL.

Service management is a set of processes, activities, and policies – i.e. capabilities – that IT organizations use to set up, deliver, and manage day-to-day IT services (and, more recently, for the management of services in other lines of business such as human resources (HR) too). For IT departments, service delivery and support activities need structure in order to be effective and repeatable. This is where ITIL comes in. Because ITIL is a globally recognized framework of service management best practice, with it applicable for ITSM in particular. It’s currently on version 4 – or ITIL 4 – and this provides guidance on everything from setting up your (IT) service desk to continual improvement.

To help your organization, this blog looks at eight ways in which ITIL enhances service management and ITSM in particular.


Focusing on business value creation

The main area of focus in the latest version of ITIL is on providing value. Value to the business, value to end users, and value to onward customers. Value really is front and center in ITIL 4.

So, ITIL 4 revolves around value creation rather than just delivering technology services. As part of this, it has introduced the service value system (SVS) and service value chain which look at the different components involved in service delivery that will help to co-create value for customers.


Building stronger relationships between IT and the rest of the business

Another area of focus in ITIL 4 is the service relationship model to map the relationships between service providers and customers. Such service relationships are established between entities to co-create value and include service provision, service consumption, and service relationship management.

In ITIL 4, the service relationship model is supported by the relationship management practice. Its objective is to establish and improve the relationships between IT and its stakeholders by ensuring that:

  • Stakeholder needs are understood and reflected in new services
  • The relationship between IT and the rest of the business is positive, constructive, and well maintained
  • Escalations are handled by a mutually agreed process.

Offering guidance on stakeholder mapping

Identifying and understanding the key players in your activities is a key step in any service management environment. These stakeholders can include process owners, managers, customers, end users, senior management, and third-party suppliers.

By having a solid stakeholder management strategy, your IT organization can eliminate silos, create a more transparent working environment, and create stronger engagement between IT and the rest of the business.


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Increased visibility of IT’s service offerings

I always think that one of the golden rules of ITSM is “always make it easy for people to use your services.” ITIL helps to enable this through the concept of a service catalog.

A service catalog increases the visibility of services by listing what’s available to any given part of the business, it can act as a mission statement for IT by increasing self-service uptake, influence end-user behaviors with demand management, and promote helpful knowledge content. It can also signpost end users to logging their own incidents and service requests.


The better management of business risk

ITIL 4 has a specific practice for risk management that aims to ensure that an organization recognizes and effectively manages risk.

Risk management ensures that decisions around risk are balanced such that the potential benefits are worth more to the business than the cost required to address the risk. This is done by ensuring that risks are:

  • Identified – that risks are identified and captured in a risk register.
  • Assessed – that the probability, impact, and proximity of risks are considered.
  • Treated – that appropriate responses to risks are taken including mitigation (for example, adding a UPS system to a data center in case of a power outage), removal (for example, investing in high-availability environments), or acceptance (for example, if the probability is so small and the costs to address the risk are prohibitively high a decision may be taken to accept the risk).

Once a risk register is in place, it can be mapped onto the service catalog such that risks can be further prioritized against live business services.


Improved management of business and technical change

All changes aren’t created equal. Technical deployments need to be treated very differently from, say, people change. Luckily ITIL 4 has you covered. There are several ITIL 4 practices that manage the different types of change, including:

  • Organizational change management – the practice of ensuring that changes in an organization are smoothly and successfully implemented and that lasting benefits are achieved by managing the human aspects of the changes.
  • Change enablement – the practice of ensuring that risks are properly assessed, authorizing changes to proceed, and managing the change schedule in order to maximize the number of successful service and product changes.
  • Release management – the practice of making new or changed services available for use.
  • Service request management – which covers making small service actions that have been agreed upon as being a normal part of service delivery. Examples of service requests include moving a PC for an end user, installing an application, or granting access to a network share.


Facilitating continual improvement

Continual improvement is the ITIL 4 practice that looks at getting various aspects of service management better over time by making achievable improvements and then acting on feedback from the business.

In ITIL 4, continual improvement has brought in Agile concepts, advocating small bursts of improvement that are repeatable. Allowing for stability periods and then asking for and acting on feedback. It’s an improvement loop that means the service is always improving.


ITIL has global recognition and support

A huge benefit of ITIL per se is the level of help and support out there. As well as the official ITIL content there’s also help available via the global itSMF community, communities on social media, blogs, and webinar – the list of helpful ITIL-related guidance is endless.

So, that’s my view on how ITIL 4 enhances service management. What would you add to my list? Please let me know in the comments.

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