ITIL Concepts and Principles you Should Know

Adoption of the digital, a shift towards cloud solutions, automation, value creation, information explosion, and the effects of its rapid generation and abundance all place IT service management at the core of any organization’s operations. Getting right down to it, data is one of the most important assets an organization has as its unique detail, employed appropriately, becomes the wheel that drives the success and attainment of the organization’s objectives. Data processes, including its generation, collection, processing, and appropriation, are a function of IT services. Thus, to derive optimal value from IT services and ultimately data and other valuable organizational service assets, there is a need to employ the right management approaches, frameworks, and tools.

An effective approach in the creation of value for customers and end-users of IT products is bringing together an organization’s IT processes and services, organizational teams and departments, and other organizational elements to integrate and work in tandem. To facilitate this shift, a flexible framework that has been widely adopted is ITIL which stands for Information Technology Infrastructure Library. ITIL, an IT service management framework, defines the IT practices and processes that can be implemented to achieve efficiency and predictable service levels. ITIL (ITIL 3 version) is essentially a compilation of five volumes of IT best practices that comprehensively cover the role of the IT division in an organization.

The latest ITIL V4

ITIL has seen some major upgrades over the years to align with the fast-evolving technological space. ITIL V4 was launched in February 2019, which shifted focus from the ITIL V3 waterfall model approach to a more agile, flexible, and innovation-oriented approach in supporting legacy systems. Service value is at the core of ITIL V4, where all the elements of IT service should work together to facilitate the creation of value for the organization and its customers.

To date, well over two million professionals have undertaken the ITIL V4 certification, which helps them deliver value to their organizations by embracing a more agile service management approach that takes into account the latest trends in technology and facilitates an organization’s digital transformation.

What makes the difference between a successful ITIL implementation and a struggling or failed one is how well ITIL professionals are conversant with the core ITIL concepts and principles.

Core ITIL concepts that you should know

Core ITIL concepts are entrenched within the phases of the IT service management life cycle. It is important to understand these concepts as they are the foundation of  ITIL best practices.

  • Service Strategy. In the service strategy phase, services are essential assets in the business. As the name suggests, the objective of the service strategy phase is to determine the services that will be offered to meet customer requirements while at the same time aligning with business objectives.
  • Service Design. The scope of processes in this phase span the design of new IT services or improvements to existing services.
  • Service transition. In addition to building and deploying IT services or improvement features, service transition facilitates the streamlined and coordinated transition to the new services.
  • Service operation. A streamlined transition should be followed by the efficient delivery of IT services such that user requests are met accordingly and service failures and fixes resolved.
  • Continual service improvement. Employ a quality management approach to continuously improve the efficiency and effectiveness of IT services iteratively.

The ITIL guiding principles

The ITIL guiding principles are focused on facilitating the implementation and maintenance of IT services throughout the management lifecycle. These principles have been designed to be valuable and cut across all the processes within each phase of the IT service management lifecycle with the core aim of creating value.

The core ITIL principles are seven in total. They are:

  1. Focus on value

ITIL 4 in its entirety is anchored on the creation of value. This should be the ultimate goal of any organization and the very reason why ITIL should be implemented. The creation of value should be holistic including not only user experience and customer experience but also other stakeholders including employees, shareholders, and regulators.

2. Start where you are

Weighing between building from scratch and making improvements on what exists. Sometimes, improving specific features within your existing processes and retaining the processes makes more sense than a complete overhaul. Other times, the opposite is necessary. The key is to know what is needed and when so that waste is minimized as much as possible.

3. Progress iteratively

Iterative progress is founded on feedback. Organizing the implementation of new or improved services into small manageable phases also delivers value iteratively. This presents a better approach because as the project progresses, feedback is implemented with each iteration. This guarantees better value compared to projects that only deliver value after completion. Consider that some projects can run for years before completion, which will certainly be too long a period to wait to experience the value in them.

4. Collaborate

IT has and will always involve the participation of multiple parties. The difference is that previous projects were siloed with everyone working independently on their assignments, while today, IT projects involve close collaboration between teams, customers, and the management.

Adopting collaboration and transparency as best practices is beneficial because projects are delivered faster, with fewer errors, minimal waste and rework, on a leaner budget. This eventually leads to the creation of greater value.

5. Thinking and working holistically

Consider the end-to-end value in the process rather than your personal value. Thinking about your input into the project in isolation will more often than not ends up optimizing one aspect of the process at the expense of the others and the entire process.

6. Optimize and automate

After designing and implementing an efficient workflow, automating some aspects as necessary further improves its efficiency and ultimately, user and customer experience not to mention reducing the resources required to keep it operating optimally. Focus on utilizing manpower only on tasks that cannot be automated. The rule of thumb here is optimization comes before automation.

7. Keep it simple, keep it practical

Finally, complex processes often demand more resources. Finding ways of simplifying complex processes to make it easy and practical to create value. It is important to differentiate between needs and wants. Not all possible situations should be covered by processes. Equally, not all possible situations bring value to the business.

In conclusion

ITIL practices, if properly implemented, will enable organizations to increase value on one hand and effectively manage risks, and maintain their operations on the other. The ultimate is a satisfied customer, happy end-users, and happy stakeholders.


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