The winds have changed in “the World of ITIL®”. ITIL 4 is much more “People” focused than any of its editions before. The focus on processes, now referred to as practices, is still there. But this has been placed on a back burner. What does this mean for those organizations that have invested in adopting and adapting ITIL best practices? This article offers a few suggestions for you to consider.
Where Are We Now?
Axelos, the owner of ITIL 4, started releasing the first publications of this version in 2019. It became clear from the beginning that something had changed. For instance, the service lifecycle approach had been replaced with a system approach. The service value system had taken the front seat. And along with the emphasis on the term “value”, other concepts such as the service value chains, the value streams, the guiding principles, and the dimensions model.
About a year later, for more ITIL 4 publications surfaced:
- Create, Deliver and Support
- Drive Stakeholder Value
- High Velocity IT
- Direct, Plan and Improve
Even when glancing over these titles, again it showed a new emphasis. The organization and its people have taken the center stage. Organizational readiness, organizational maturity, the customer journey, and digital transformation, just to mention a few.
In early 2020, all 34 practices had become available. Not in a book format. No. Become a member of Axelos and you have access to them.
The final publication of ITIL 4, “Digital and IT Strategy” is expected to release during the fall of 2020.
With the People Comes the Service Focus
The shift to focusing on the organization and its people, has come with putting the concepts involving services in the spotlight. Service expectations, service interactions, service relationships, service blueprints, service onboarding, and service culture are just a few examples of concepts highlighted in ITIL 4.
Never in ITIL-history, has it provided this much guidance on identifying, defining, designing, creating, delivering, and improving quality services. Each publication contributing its own share. If service owners were ever wondering what is expected from them, they now have a career lifetime of work laid out for them. In typical ITIL tradition, I might add, it is an ocean of helpful guidance.
ITIL 4 for ITIL Veterans
When you are not new to ITIL, you most likely now it when ITIL was known for two publications:
- ITIL Service Support, or the “blue book”
- ITIL Service Delivery, or the “red book”
Each book had 5 processes. Benefiting from ITIL was relatively easy back then. I am smiling when I am writing this. Because it was not. There were 10 or so more publications which nobody looked at. Resulting in limited adoption successes.
When ITIL v3 was released it seemed a better approach with “just” five publications. History was repeating itself. Those books addressing the operational processes had priority over anything of a tactical focus. Let alone a strategic focus. Proof to “doing” ITIL, even if there is such thing, is still defined as the purchase of an IT service management, or ITSM, tool. With mixed implementation successes. Aspects such as service focus and service culture are still hard to find in IT organizations.
The new focus of ITIL 4 was much needed. If you feel like your successes in ITSM so far can use some help, then, at the very least, purchase the new ITIL publications. And become a member of Axelos and have access to the renewed “processes”, now called practices. There is enough for you to pick and choose from to be better of with your ITSM/ITL investments eventually.
And, finally, from the beginning of ITIL, the adoption of what it had to offer, always required a cultural or organizational change. In other words, we now have an ITIL version that puts this on the forefront.
And What About ITIL 4 Training?
Do not expect the new ITIL training courses to be the same as those from the past. With the shift in focused as described so far, the certification training courses spend much less time on practices. So, anyone new to ITIL will be introduced to few operational aspects. And needs to mentally prepare for an “organizational change” type training. That is planting the seeds to change mindsets, behavior, and culture.
For those who own or manager an ITIL v3-based process, and you now have coworkers returning from an ITIL 4 class, you may be disappointed about how much they learned about your process. There are more practices to be covered in those courses, and the focused has shifted away from practices. What this means is that may have to make up for this “learning gap” yourself. And organize complementary training and education.
So, what do you do with this new knowledge? Well, keep the momentum going. Get educated on ITIL 4. And identify where in your organization you can benefit from what the new ITIL has to offer. Identify areas for improvement and start applying the recommendations of the new ITIL. If you are already ITIL v3 certified, you may have to retake a course or two. That way you know what your coworkers are being taught. Or, at the very least, purchase the ITIL 4 books and start reading.
What If I Am New to ITIL?
If you are new to ITIL, then I welcome you to the world of ITSM. And buckle up for a long ride. That can be bumpy at times. But also, one that can bring you to places that you never imagined experiencing. With the right focus, you will, hopefully, experience one day what it feels like to work in an organization that has a service culture in place.
As with every cultural change it needs to come from the top. And ideally from the bottom as well. Much knowledge and wisdom are available in the field of organizational change management. So, complement your ITIL knowledge with this competency. Together, you have a better chance of eventually experiencing this service mindset and culture.
Find coworkers in your organization who would be champions of such effort. You may not always find them at the top. Who are the movers and shakers? Who are the influencers and who are the role models? Develop a network of change agents. And start plugging away. One win at a time.
And lastly, when your organization has business relationship managers, team up with them. Those are your experts in being focused on people. And they now all about driving value and evolving culture.
Good luck! And enjoy the ride!
As with every ITIL edition, ITIL 4 is rich in guidance. For many amongst us to the point that it is overwhelming. Where do I start? When am I done? What is the recipe to success? Who do I need? These are just a few questions that no ITIL publication can help you with. Every organization is different. You adopt and adapt what has been given to you by ITIL.
I have already suggested to complement your ITIL knowledge with organizational change management competencies. I need you to also consider the service management standards that are available:
- ISO/IEC 20000, the international standard for service management
- FitSM, the international standard for IT service management
Why? Because both lay a strong foundation for you to build on. They both recommend that you do a bare minimum to improve your service quality. You can always do more. Think ITIL. Plus, while following the guidance of the standards, your ITIL knowledge come in handy already. They both complement ITIL nicely.
Note that FitSM focusses on ITSM. And ISO/IEC 20000 on service management. The word “IT” is not mentioned. However, 1000s of IT organizations are benefiting from it.
Call to Action!
If this article has sparked your interest and you would like to learn more about ITIL or ITSM, consider the following options.
Important Links (in alphabetical order)
- Becoming a Service-Focused Organization Workshop
- BRM Coaching
- Business Relationship Management Workshops
- Business Relationship Management Training
- Change Management Training
- Change Manager Coaching
- CIO Coaching
- FitSM Training
- ISO/IEC 20000 Training
- Program Manager Coaching
- Process Owner Coaching
- Process Owner Training
- Service Management Coaching
- Workshops for Implementing Service Management
- Service Owner Coaching
- Service Owner Training