ITIL v4: a portrait of the fourth edition of the IT service framework

IT managers and IT service providers such as managed services providers have had a comprehensive framework with tailored best practices at their fingertips for over three decades in the form of the ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library). The IT guide describes how services can be provided as efficiently and customer-orientated as possible. The following sections deal with the contents and special features of the fourth edition ITIL v4.

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What is ITIL v4?

ITIL v4 is the fourth and most current edition of the IT framework ITIL. It was published in February 2019 as the official successor to ITIL v3 and serves primarily as an extension or update to version 3. The core principles of the previous edition are still valid today. In addition, they also play an important role in ITIL v4, because the fundamental ITIL v3 approach to the efficient provision of IT services, which is the main focus of the ITIL guide, is continued. But basic principles have been reinforced in areas such as transparency, collaboration, and automation.

Note

ITIL v4 relies on a mix of established IT service management practices and the workings with Lean, Agile and DevOps.

The two key components that ITIL v4 is based on include the Service Value System (SVS) and the four dimensions model.

What is the ITIL v4 Service Value System?

The Service Value System of ITIL v4 describes the interaction of all components and activities of IT service management in an organisation involved in value creation. The system is subdivided into the following five core points:

  • ITIL Service Value Chain: Combination of the six key activities – Planning, Improvement, Engagement, Design/Transition, Sustainability, and Delivery/Support, the goal of which is to create value for the end user.
  • ITIL Guiding Principles: Core principles for high-quality IT service management such as value orientation, transparent collaboration, simplicity, or continuous optimisation/further development.
  • Governance: Predefined directions, policies, and rules that IT managers should use when deploying and managing their services.
  • Continual Improvement: The drive to constantly improve the services offered, which also plays a role in other components such as the value chain.
  • ITIL practices (also referral guidelines or practices): 34 different best practices that provide IT service providers with a set of organisational resources designed to perform work or achieve a goal.

ITIL v4: What is the model of four dimensions?

Agile IT service management is about more than simply managing technology. The various organisations of a company and the individual persons must be included, as must the processes and technologies used. Relationships with partners and providers also play an important role. ITIL v4 summarises these areas in a holistic IT service management approach which forms the basis of the model of the four dimensions.

Note

The four dimensions apply not only to all IT services, but also to all categories of the Service Value System!

  1. Organisation and people: Organisations cover the formal structure and ensure an appropriate level of capacities and competencies. All staff involved should be always aware of their part in the service value system.
  2. Information and technology: On the one hand, this dimension is about the technologies used in terms of IT service management, e.g., tools or knowledge databases. On the other hand, it is about how companies handle information they generate, store, manage, and use in the delivery of an IT service.
  3. Partner and suppliers: Depending on various factors such as costs, corporate culture, know-how or their own strategy, companies integrate third-party organisations into their business processes.
  4. Value streams and processes: This dimension provides for a definition of all activities, workflows, and processes required to achieve the business objectives. It also looks at the interaction of various business components and how they are involved in the value creation process.

What ITIL v4 processes are there?

ITIL v4 specifies a total of 34 different IT management practices. These recommended practices, which are referred to as ‘processes’ in previous versions such as ITIL v3, are interrelated organisational resources that can be used to complete specific tasks or achieve specific goals. For each practice, the framework formulates, among other things, appropriate concepts, and success factors.

ITIL v4 divides individual practices into the three categories ‘General Management Practices’, ‘Service Management Practices’, and ‘Technical Management Practices’. The following table (updated August 2021) shows the 34 ITIL v4 practices including the superordinate category:

General Management Practices

Service Management Practices

Technical Management Practices

- Strategy Management

- Portfolio Management

- Architecture Management

- Service Financial Management

- Workforce and Talent Management

- Continual Improvement

- Measurement and Reporting

- Risk Management

- Information Security Management

- Knowledge Management

- OrganizationalOrganisational Change Management

- Project Management

- Relationship Management

- Supplier Management

- Business Analysis

- Service Catalogue Management

- Service Design

- Service Level Management

- Availability Management

- Capacity and Performance Management

- Service Continuity Management

- Monitoring and Event Management

- Service Desk

- Incident Management

- Service Request Management

- Problem Management

- Release Management

- Change Control

- Service Validation and Testing

- Service Configuration Management

- IT Asset Management

- Deployment Management

- Infrastructure and Platform Management

- Software Development and Management

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The most important differences between ITIL v4 and ITIL v3

ITIL v4 is extension of ITIL v3 since many approaches can already be found in the third ITIL edition from 2011. What’s new in ITIL v4 is the four-dimension model of service management, but service management is also presented as a system-based approach in ITIL v3. In addition, staff, information, technology, partners, and processes are all important aspects in the third edition of the guide.

The service value system of ITIL v4, which describes the interaction of the individual components and activities in the organisation, is not an entirely new principle either. With its various processes, functions, and guidelines, ITIL v3 also offers a basic description of interaction. With its Service Value System, however, ITIL v4 not only provides a more holistic approach, but also a much more flexible one that gives IT managers greater freedom to define customised solutions.

The service life cycle known from the third edition is hardly mentioned in ITIL v4, but continuous improvement continues to play an important role, for example in the context of the ITIL service value chain. Instead of the 26 processes in ITIL v3, ITIL v4 presents a total of 34 different practices, some of which are new, while the majority lean on processes described in previous editions.

Note

Unlike other IT standards such as audit compliance, companies cannot be certified for ITIL conformity. The training courses and certifications for ITIL v4 are always person-specific.


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