In the same way that there are many definitions of IT Service Management, there are different opinions as to what it includes. ITIL 4 includes 34 management practices. All of these can be considered relevant to ITSM.
However, the reality is that some ITSM practices are adopted more widely than others. In fact, ITIL recommends an “adopt and adapt” approach where organizations use only what they need and tailor it to their circumstances.
There’s a total of 34 ITIL 4 practices. But for someone new to ITSM, it’s best to focus on the ITSM practices that have the greatest traction.
Globally ITIL is the most popular body of ITSM and service management guidance. AXELOS, the custodian of ITIL, states that:
“ITIL 4 provides the guidance organizations need to address new service management challenges and utilize the potential of modern technology. It is designed to ensure a flexible, coordinated and integrated system for the effective governance and management of IT-enabled services.”
But while ITIL might be the most popular body of ITSM guidance, there are many other sources of ITSM best practice available. For example:
ITIL, formally known as the “IT Infrastructure Library” was first created in 1989 to help with the UK Government’s dissatisfaction with governmental IT – with the Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency, now the Office of Government Commerce, tasked with creating a framework of IT management best practices to help.
Even over three decades later, the ITSM guidance offered by ITIL is intended for organizations to take only what they need and to tailor it to their exact needs. This is often called the ITIL “adopt and adapt” approach, reflecting that ITIL isn’t a standard where organizational adoption is assessed against a number of prescribed needs.
ITIL 4, the latest version of ITIL, has reinvented the focus of the body of best practice guidance. Not only is it now positioned to apply to all service-provider organizations (and not just IT service providers), but it has also “moved the dial” in terms of the focus on value, i.e. on outcomes rather than operations and outputs.
At the heart of the ITIL 4 service management best practice is the ITIL service value system. This is shown in the diagram below, with demand for services being turned into value using the ITIL 4 “components” in the center.
At the center of the ITIL 4 service value system is the Service Value Chain, which the ITIL Foundation: ITIL 4 Edition publication describes as
“an operating model which outlines the key activities required to respond to demand and facilitate value realization through the creation and management of products and services.”
Each of the six central elements within the Service Value Chain can be used to create “value streams” that define how value is created by particular ITSM capabilities.
Your organization can use whatever it needs from the ITIL management practices to improve how it delivers and supports IT services. This could be to reduce costs, to improve efficiency, or to be all three of “better, faster, cheaper.”
For example, the use of ITSM best practices and the associated tool capabilities help to speed up and eliminate the unnecessary manual elements of processes.This improves efficiency and reduces costs. It also frees up IT staff to focus on more important work.
The IT service provider benefits of the efficiency and cost gains also positively impact operations and outcomes at a business level. This could be a significant reduction in the adverse impact of IT issues that are now being resolved more quickly (through incident management) or avoided (through problem management, availability management, capacity management, change enablement, or service configuration management) – with this reducing downtime.
This also delivers better operations and outcomes (on top of the efficiency and cost gains). For example, service-based thinking provides insight into the true business impact of IT issues, even where the affected technology component is distanced from the point of service/technology consumption.
This improved insight through better reporting and analytics also facilitates the ability to undertake trend analysis for the identification of issues and improvement opportunities.
Finally, although there are many more ways that ITSM will benefit your organization, the best practice processes and enabling technology helps to reduce or eliminate what Lean thinking terms “wastage.” There are various ways that wastage is tackled through ITSM, for example:
Savvy organizations have long known that ITSM best practices and enabling tools are also beneficial to other parts of the organization such as human resources, customer service/support, facilities, finance, legal, procurement, and security teams. This has created what the IT industry has termed “enterprise service management” where ITSM capabilities are extended to other business functions to improve their services, operations, experiences, and outcomes.
It’s worth noting, however, that while this is often called “enterprise service management,” organizations are more likely to call this sharing of ITSM capabilities either “service management” or “digital transformation.”
As to the ITSM capabilities that are shared with other business functions, the greatest traction is seen with:
Finally, the top drivers for extending ITSM to other business functions are seen as:
This shows that the need for enterprise service management isn’t driven by cost reduction but by better business operations and outcomes.
Finally, ITSM – via enterprise service management – can also play a key role in digital transformation. Not only ensuring that IT service delivery and support is fit-for-purpose for the new products and services and improved customer engagement mechanisms that employ technology, but also delivering the better processes and digital enablement that are needed for back-office digital transformation.