New ITIL 4 Features and What They Mean for Your Organization (Part 1)

InvGate November 6, 2019
- 4 min read

ITIL 4 is finally here! If you don’t know what ITIL is – it’s the most used, and globally recognized, framework of IT service management (ITSM) best practice - check our definitive ITIL guide. ITIL is used by millions of practitioners, managers, and IT service providers every day, with ITIL 4 its latest iteration that brings with it many changes.

If you’re still wanting to find out more about ITIL 4, or simply ITIL, then here are some new features that will help you to get up to speed and to improve your IT service delivery and support game.

Feature #1: The ITIL 4 service value chain

It doesn’t matter which version of ITIL you’re using, I think we can all agree that the single most important focus of modern ITSM is giving our customers value. ITIL v3 focused on the service lifecycle of strategy, design, transition, operation, and continual service improvement. ITIL 4 now approaches this differently – enter the service value chain.

The service value chain is a key part of ITIL 4 that facilitates value co-creation. This is shown in the diagram below, with it depicting how the ITIL-4-defined components and activities work together for the creation of value.

The ITIL 4 Service Value Chain


ITIL 4 Service Value Chain


Source: AXELOS, Diagram 4.2 Chapter 4 ITIL Foundation ITIL 4 Edition (2019)

For us, the key thing to take from this change is the focus on value co-creation. Sure, previous iterations of ITIL have mentions of value, but ITIL 4 kicks things up a notch and then some. The service value chain shines a light on the co-creation of value by giving focus to all the multiple facets of service delivery.


Feature #2: The ITIL 4 practices

ITIL v3 had 26 ITSM processes and four functions positioned across the five stages of the service lifecycle. I’ve already written about how the ITIL 4 service value chain has replaced, but not killed, the ITIL v3 service lifecycle but alongside this is the transition from processes and functions to practices.

For us, this is great news because, all too often, people used to get confused between processes and functions and why they were called different things. The reality is that your service desk will look after incidents and requests and act as a shop window to IT no matter what you call it. Likewise, the change control practice – or change management process as was – will always be there to manage and protect the organization in terms of transition activity.

By moving from processes and functions to practices it makes the point that ITSM is about so much more than workflows, procedures, and how people are grouped together. The ITIL 4 practices focus on each area of best practice, how it’s accomplished, and the resources and capabilities needed to make them effective and efficient.

Feature #3: ITIL’s guiding principles

Have you ever picked up a book on a best practice methodology or framework and then ten minutes later given up because it’s all a bit too much? The ITIL 4 guiding principles are in place to help organizations find a way of working that’s fit for THEIR needs.

There are seven guiding principles:

  1. Focus on value. Sounds obvious doesn’t it, but if you’re not delivering tangible value to your customers, then what's the point of all your ITSM efforts?
  2. Start where you are. Sometimes people get so overwhelmed by the task ahead of them, they get overwrought, panicked, and they might even give up. Instead, take a deep breath. Look at what you have in place already and build on that. We promise you – no one is expecting you to fix everything on day one. Just do something, anything, and you’re already in a better position than you were yesterday and then just keep going.
  3. Progress iteratively with feedback. Pause regularly and ask for feedback. We’ve all heard about failing fast when talking about DevOps, but it absolutely applies here too. Check-in with your stakeholders and ask them what they think. What do they like? What are they worried about? What needs to be better? It’s much easier to course-correct if you ask for daily or weekly feedback than if you’re going for months at a time without verifying your approach.
  4. Collaborate and promote visibility. Work closely with your customers and partners and look for opportunities to increase transparency and communication.
  5. Think and work holistically. In other words, no more silos. IT isn’t merely a cost, it’s a living, breathing part of the organization so let's treat it accordingly.
  6. Keep it simple and practical. Keep your processes and ways of working as simple as possible. If something doesn’t add tangible value, then ask the question – is this really needed?
  7. Optimize and automate. Look for opportunities to template or automate work where possible to save time and reduce the potential for error.


So, that’s our first take on some of what’s new in ITIL 4. What do you think? Please come back soon for the second part of our blog where we’ll look at more new features including automation and governance.

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