Three Things That Are Different – And Better – About ITIL 4

By Doug Tedder

While many of the core principles of ITIL V3 remain within ITIL 4, ITIL 4 is not just a simple rewrite of ITIL V3.  As I’ve studied ITIL 4, I’ve found three significant things that are different – and better – about ITIL 4.

1.The Guiding Principles are part of the ITIL core.

The Guiding Principles were introduced in the ITIL Practitioner book in 2016, but have now been incorporated into the core of ITIL – and that’s a good thing.  These Guiding Principles are among the best guidance regarding service management that I’ve encountered.  ITIL 4 defines a guiding principle as “a recommendation that guides an organization in all circumstances”.

What makes Guiding Principles so powerful?  If people understand and embrace the Guiding Principles, they will tend to do the right things from a service management perspective.  And they don’t necessarily need to have an in-depth understanding of a process or service to do so – they just need to follow the Guiding Principles. Likewise, if process designs follow the Guiding Principles, the use of those processes will become intuitive.

2. “Value” is co-created.

Why was it only IT’s responsibility to deliver value to the business?  Many interpreted previous editions of ITIL that value and outcomes were one-way deliverables from the IT organization to the business.  ITIL 4 debunks that interpretation by clearly stating the value is co-created.  Both the service provider and the organization share in the responsibility of co-creating of value from the use of technology.  While IT must work with the customer to ensure that it is delivering value, IT also must ensure that it is realizing value from its delivery of products and services.

The customer also has a critical role in value realization, as it’s the customer that takes responsibility for outcomes from service consumption. Partners and suppliers also contribute to the creation of value.  Value is not a one-way street; many stakeholders interact to co-create value – and the organization must facilitate the creation of value through collaboration and the elimination of silo mentality.

3. Service delivery and support are not linear activities.

While I think that experienced SM practitioners always recognized this, ITIL 4 makes it clear that there is rarely (if ever) a straight line from “demand” to “value” in the delivery and support of services.  In fact, in nearly any scenario, there are multiple ecosystems that are involved with the delivery and support of services.

There are ecosystems of suppliers and partners, like internet service providers and laptop manufacturers that support and enable organizations to deliver services.  There are multiple IT ecosystems; for example, an application in and of itself has no value unless there are servers, networks, and storage components underpinning that application.  But it doesn’t stop with just an ecosystem of infrastructure components.  Security policies and tools, monitoring and alerting software, and a service desk are also parts of the IT ecosystem.  Lastly, the organization itself is made up of connected ecosystems.  For example, a sales department cannot do its job if not for the manufacturing and shipping departments – and vice versa.