The Fundamentals of ITIL Service Design

Sophie Danby June 8, 2023
- 13 min read

ITIL service design is defined as the second stage in the ITIL v3 service lifecycle. This stage creates a blueprint for effective and efficient IT services and ensures they are fit for purpose and use. It comes right after the service strategy that previously sets out the objectives and guidelines that underpin the whole process. 

In this article we will define the whole service design stage and everything that is included in it: processes, practices, principles, and roles and responsibilities to be assigned. This is valuable and practical knowledge on how to implement this stage in your organization.

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ITIL service design definition

The primary goal of service design is to create a blueprint for IT Service Management and the governing IT practices, processes, and policies to realize the service provider's strategy. We use the design phase of the lifecycle to facilitate introducing these services into our production environments, ensuring quality service delivery, customer satisfaction, and cost-effective service provision.

ITIL v3 service design

ITIL v3 positions service design as the second stage in the service lifecycle. It is in place to design services defined in the strategy stage to then be transitioned, supported, and improved in the transition, operation, and Continual Service Improvement (CSI) stages.

ITIL 4 service design

ITIL 4 has the Service Value System (SVS) as its primary driver, and service design lives in the Service Management practice section of the SVS. The service design processes introduced in version 3 live on in the SVS in the General and Service Management practices.

Six benefits of ITIL service design

The benefits of service design are:

  • Improved service delivery
  • Reduced Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)
  • Improved quality, consistency, and performance of services as they are designed with the appropriate availability, performance, security, and backup requirements in mind.
  • More straightforward implementation as services have been designed for effective transition, operation, and improvement.
  • Improved IT governance, information, and decisions
  • Improved alignment with customer values and strategies.  

The 4 P's of ITIL service design

In ITIL, the 4 Ps of service design are a framework used to guide the structure and composition of IT services. Organizations can design IT services aligned with business needs by considering these 4 Ps (People, Processes, Products, and Partners).

  • People – The most important element in service design. Think about it like this: you can have the most effective tools, processes, and suppliers in place, but if you don't look after your people, nothing will work. For ITIL, the people aspect of service design includes the individuals involved in designing, implementing, managing, and improving  IT services.  

  • Processes – The activities, procedures, working methods, and workflows necessary to design and deliver IT services effectively. Service design processes include Service Level Management, Availability Management, Capacity Management, and Continuity Management to ensure that the services are designed with the appropriate quality and meet the organization's needs.

  • Products – The technology, tools, and systems used to support IT services. This includes hardware, software, networks, and other components required to deliver the services. Suppose we want to get our geek on. In that case, some products specific to the design phase of the service lifecycle include the Availability Management Information System, The Capacity Information System, and the Supply Management Database.

  • Partners – partnerships and third-party suppliers play a significant role in service design. Organizations often rely on external vendors or suppliers for various aspects of service delivery, such as outsourcing certain functions, subject matter expertise, or procuring specific products or services. Managing relationships with these partners effectively is vital to ensure the quality and reliability of the IT services provided.

ITIL service design principles

In ITIL service design, five aspects are considered to be defined during the design phase. These aspects are commonly called the "Five Aspects of Service Design”. They are as follows:

  1. Service Solutions – Designing the services to deliver to customers. It involves defining the services' scope, requirements, functionality, and features.  

  2. Technology and Architecture –  Defining the technology,  infrastructure, and architecture that will support the delivery of IT services.  

  3. Management Information Systems and Tools – Choosing the systems and tools that will be used to manage and support the delivery of IT services. 

  4. Measurement and Metrics – Defining the metrics, measures, Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) , and Critical Success Factors (CSFs) that will be used to evaluate the performance and effectiveness of the services.  

  5. Processes – Designing the structured activities and workflows required to deliver and support IT services. Each process will have a defined trigger and pre-agreed inputs and outcomes.

The 11 ITIL service design processes

 There are 11 processes present in the design stage of the ITIL lifecycle:

  1. Design Coordination 
  2. Availability Management
  3. Capacity Management
  4. Information Security Management
  5. IT Service Continuity Management
  6. Service Level Management
  7. Supplier Management
  8. Service Catalog Management
  9. Risk Management
  10. Compliance Management
  11. Architecture Management

1. Design coordination 

The objective of Design Coordination is to ensure the objectives and goals of the service design stage are met. This is done by providing and maintaining a single point of control and coordination for all activities and processes within this stage of the service lifecycle. This process includes all design activity, particularly all new or changed service solutions designed for transition into (or out of, in the case of a service retirement) the living environment.

2. Availability Management

The Availability Management process is in place to ensure the level of availability delivered in all IT services, current and future, meets the agreed needs. This covers the design, implementation, measurement, management, and improvement of IT service and component availability. 

The process has proactive and reactive components. Proactive activities include the proactive planning, design, and improvement of availability and/or Service Level Targets in a cost-effective and timely manner. Reactive activities include monitoring, measuring, analyzing, and managing all events, incidents, and problems involving unavailability  

One of the key outputs of the process is the Availability Plan which captures and prioritizes all actions related to maintaining and improving effective service availability. Common KPIs for this process include Service Availability, the number of incidents causing downtime, and the percentage of the infrastructure that is monitored for availability and uptime.

3. Capacity Management

The Capacity Management process ensures that the capacity of IT services and the IT infrastructure meets the agreed capacity and performance-related requirements, both current and future, in a cost-effective and timely manner. 

The process is the focal point for all IT performance and capacity issues. It considers all resources required to deliver the IT services and plans for short, medium, and long-term business requirements. Capacity Management looks after balance, for example, cost versus resources or supply versus demand. 

Common KPIs for Capacity Management include Service Performance, the number of incidents caused by poor performance, and the number of planned and unplanned adjustments needed to enable the infrastructure to cope with changes in demand.

4. Information Security Management

Information Security Management is needed to align IT security with business security and ensure that the integrity, confidentiality, and availability of the organization's assets, information, data, and IT services always match the agreed needs of the business. 

It acts as the focal point for all IT security issues. It ensures an information security policy covering the use and misuse of all IT systems and services is produced, maintained, and enforced. Standard KPIs for information security management include several implemented preventive measures, several security incidents, and several security tests.

5. IT Service Continuity Management

This process supports the overall Business Continuity Management. It ensures that the IT provider can always provide the minimum agreed business continuity-related service levels by managing the risks that could seriously affect IT services. 

Key deliverables of ITSCM are a business impact analysis that captures the impact a loss of service would have on the organization and a risk assessment that articulates the level of threat and the extent to which an organization is vulnerable to that threat to determine the likelihood the threat will actually occur. KPIs for the ITSCM process include the number of business processes with continuity documentation and practice tests. 

6. Service Level Management

Service Level Management is the practice that ensures that all planned and current IT services are delivered to agreed achievable targets. The process manages the expectation and perceptions of the business, customers, and users. 

Key outputs from the SLM process are Service Level Agreements (SLAs) and Operational Level Agreements (OLAs). Essential KPIs for this process are the number of services with SLAs and OLAs in place, the number of SLAs under review, and the number of services where the agreed service levels have been fulfilled.

7. Supplier Management

The purpose of Supplier Management is to obtain value for money from suppliers and provide seamless quality IT service to the business by making sure that all contracts and agreements with suppliers support the needs of the company. 

A key output of this process is the creation and maintenance of underpinning contracts which set out the agreed service levels, performance targets, and responsibilities between the service provider and the customer. KPIs for Supplier Management include the number of agreed contracts and the number of contract reviews. 

8. Service Catalog Management

Service Catalog Management aims to provide and maintain a single source of information across all operational services, as well as those being prepared to be run operationally. The goal is to provide and maintain accurate information across all services that are being transitioned or have been transitioned to the live environment. Basically, a service catalog is a menu of all the current service offerings that makes them more accessible to the user.

9. Risk Management

Risk Management aims to effectively identify, assess, control, mitigate, and manage risks. 

10. Compliance

Compliance Management aims to ensure that all regulatory and compliance requirements are met.

11. Architecture

Architecture Management aims to capture and document the necessary components of business services, including their interrelationships.

How to implement ITIL service design

Implementing the design phase of the lifecycle requires several steps. Depending on your organization and the complexity of your ecosystem, you can use some or all of the steps in the table below to design your services.

Service design example

We love a checklist, so here is a basic one for creating a new service:

Service Design Process Activity
Design Coordination  Coordinate design activities and review them against the strategy.
Availability Management Capture the availability requirements, for example, the service hours, and account for any planned downtime due to maintenance. Ensure the availability plan is updated.
Capacity Management Capture the performance and throughput requirements. Ensure the capacity plan is updated.
Information Security Management Capture information security requirements and ensure they are reflected in any policy documentation. 
IT Service Continuity Management Capture backup requirements and reflect them in the IT service continuity plan. 
Service Level Management Create service targets and ensure they are codified in SLAs and OLAs.
Supplier Management Capture the details of any suppliers and ensure the supplier database is updated.
Service Catalog Management Ensure the service details are captured and added to the catalog.
Risk Management Ensure the risk details are captured, and an appropriate plan is in place to manage them.
Compliance Ensure the compliance or regulatory requirements are captured, and an appropriate plan is in place to manage them.
Architecture Ensure the architecture details are captured.

Service design roles and responsibilities

The roles involved in service design include:

  • Service Design Manager – This role is responsible for developing effective, efficient, resilient designs for new or improved services. This role is also responsible for creating documentation across the design phase.

  • Availability Manager –  This role is responsible for all aspects of defining, analyzing, measuring, planning, and improving all aspects of the availability of IT services and ensuring the IT ecosystem has the appropriate measures in place to ensure the levels of availability agreed with the business can be maintained.

  • Capacity Manager – This role is responsible for ensuring that services and infrastructure have adequate capacity to deliver quality services and meet performance targets cost-effectively and timely. It is also responsible for ensuring that capacity is managed at a business, service, and component level to meet business demands.

  • IT Service Continuity Manager – This Role ensures that the IT service provider can continue to provide service at minimum agreed service levels in case of disaster. The person performing this role is responsible for ensuring that all IT service risks are captured, a plan is in place for situations where the worst happens, and ensuring that the plan is regularly tested.

  • Information Security Manager – This Role ensures the confidentiality, integrity, and security of an organization's information, data, and IT services. The person in this role is also tasked with creating the information security policy and ensuring it is communicated and adhered to.

  • Service Level Manager – This role is responsible for negotiating SLAs and OLAs and ensuring they are met.

  • Supplier Manager – This role ensures that value for money is obtained from all suppliers and that supplier performance and responsibilities are captured in underpinning contracts.

  • Service Catalog Manager – This role is responsible for creating and maintaining the catalog to ensure all live services are visible and accessible to end users.

  • Risk Manager – This role is responsible for identifying, assessing, controlling, and mitigating risks. It is also tasked with implementing the appropriate plans to work with business stakeholders to minimize and manage risks.

  • Compliance manager – This role ensures that all regulatory and compliance requirements are met.

  • Architecture Manager – This role is responsible for capturing and documenting the necessary components of a business service, including their interrelationships.

Service design certification

The most relevant service design certification is the AXELOS qualification. One of the certifications within the ITIL v3 Service Lifecycle workstream is the Service Design (SD) module. It looks at the design of IT services and focuses on the architectures, processes, policies, and documentation that will enable delegates to design services that meet the needs of their organization. Ideal candidates include roles that work in the design stage of the life cycle, for example, Service Level, Availability, or Capacity Managers.

To sum up

ITIL service design is the second phase of the service lifecycle. It aims to create a detailed blueprint for effective IT services that meet the requirements captured in the strategy stage of the life cycle. Basically, it starts bringing the strategy to life, making sure service delivery is aligned with the business.

Benefits of service design include creating a comprehensive service outline and capturing the warranty requirements of a service. This stage is made up of 11 main processes. Defining each process and following its principles and best practices is the way to make sure you have completed it successfully and are ready to move on to the next step.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are examples of ITIL service design tools? 

The tools needed to design effective services. Some examples could include your ITSM tool, service catalog, or Availability Management information system.

Read other articles like this : ITIL, ITSM

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