What to look for in ITIL 4

ITIL 4 is a major upgrade to the existing ITIL 2011. Today, every organization is adopting agile methodologies for their delivery and with DevOps coming up, Operations is no longer separate. Operations also needs to come together and work for the common objective. The new approach is to move from Projects to Products. There is one team with all the skills required, which delivers end-to-end from the cradle to the grave of each functionality. Business, Developer, Testing, Operations, Infrastructure, Database, Networking, Security – all now have the same objective of Creating Value.

ITIL 4 is made to stress more on this collaborative working towards value creation. This was always there in ITIL but now it is the focal point because today, technology is advancing at a very fast pace. Developments in areas of Cloud Computing, IaaS, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain are disrupting the way we provide products and services to customers and this has opened up new opportunities for value creation. IT is Business. IT Service Management now holds a key strategic position and has to work together with the rest.

All these have led to newer IT Service Management challenges. ITIL 4 updates ITIL by reshaping much of the established ITSM practices in the wider context of Value Streams, Customer Experience, and Digital Transformation. It embraces new ways of working like LEAN, Agile and DevOps, and adapting them in making service management better.

ITIL 4 brings in the concept of ITIL SVS (Service Value System). ITIL SVS represents how various components and activities of the organization work together to help value creation through IT Services. These can be combined in a flexible manner, integrating and coordinating with the various parts of the organization. The core components of ITIL SVS are:

  • ITIL Service Value Chain
  • ITIL Practices
  • ITIL Guiding Principles
  • Governance
  • Continual Improvement

ITIL 4 mentions four dimensions of Service Management from which each component of the SVS should be considered. They are:

  • Organization and People
  • Information and Technology
  • Partners and Suppliers
  • Value Streams and Processes

Each of the dimensions gets equal importance.

ITIL 4 shows how to relate to the various frameworks and best practices to make the most of each, with the end goal to deliver value to the customer.

Agile

Every organization now needs to deliver fast. One of the ways to deliver value faster is by being Agile. Currently, a lot of people feel Agile is only for Development but that’s not true. We need a cadence. There has to be a continuous flow of work/change which every business needs to deliver and maintain.

This requires a change of focus from the Project to Product approach so that it leads to Continuous Delivery. This is why the entire organization needs to be agile. If we need to deliver a change every week and require a new server but if we get a server after 4 months from the time we have requested, (which is still a common scenario) we cannot deliver in a week regardless of the technology we use. ITIL 4 is concerned with the management of the complete lifecycle of the product or service. Agile assists ITIL 4 in the design, transition, and delivery of ongoing changes to the product / service. Both talk about value creation, customer focus, continual experimentation, and improvement.

LEAN

Lean improves speed and quality by removing waste. This comes from Toyota. We saw that ITIL 4 has SVS and within it, we talked about Value Streams as one of the dimensions. We need to improve the flow by removing waste. Lean looks at doing exactly this by eliminating the burden and improving the flow of work. This is achieved through continuous improvement and experimentation. This helps and supports ITIL 4 by making it more effective and efficient in the management of products and services.

Kanban

Kanban also helps in the improvement of flow by identifying bottlenecks. If we improve before the bottleneck, it will increase WIP which is a waste. If we improve after bottleneck, there is no improvement as they are also starved anyway for more work. The only way to improve is to find the bottleneck and to take care of it. Kanban helps with this through 6 general practices:

  1. Visualization
  2. Limiting work in progress
  3. Managing the flow
  4. Making policies explicit
  5. Implementing shorter feedback loops
  6. Improving collaboratively and evolving through experimentation

Kanban can be used for new development as well as for any service, maintenance, and improvement of a product or a service. It is a useful tool to engage with the consumer and gives a visual understanding of the flow of work and bottlenecks. This helps in improving the flow to deliver faster.

DevOps

DevOps is a cultural and professional movement. The idea is to break the silo and to work together to deliver value faster and with greater stability. DevOps requires the various departments to work together, more focused from the point of view of a Service than technology or any other factor. ITIL 4, with its SVS helps to create that environment and prepare IT Service Management Professionals to be ready to work in such an environment with the right amount of process and governance to create value faster and with quality. This promotes a collaborative approach, experimentation and innovation, and faster value creation.

This is bringing everything together, which we at some point in time, have moved away from and created many silos. Technology like cloud computing, AI, ML, Blockchain, Containers, Infrastructure as a code, and Serverless computing can be used to the fullest extent when everyone comes together and creates a loosely coupled architecture for the entire system, as IT is a System of Systems.

ITIL 4 is a must for every IT practitioner, wherever they are working today. Start your journey now with the ITIL 4 Foundation!