The four dimensions of ITIL 4 represent four perspectives or focus areas. Those are needed to create and to deliver products and services. Big deal? Or just more unnecessary fluff that you can do without?
The four dimensions, perspectives or focus areas are:
- Organizations and people
- Information and technology
- Partner and suppliers
- Value streams and processes
All dimensions deserve an equal amount of attention when you create and deliver products and services. When you do not balance this amount of attention evenly, the product and service will most likely not be of (enough) value to your customer or consumer. I guess it is a big deal. Let us take a closer look.
Benefits of Applying the ITIL 4 Dimensions
The four dimensions of ITIL® prompts (IT) people to look beyond the traditional IT perspective of technology to consider. Particularly, when you design, build, deliver, support, change, and improve the products and services. As a result, one will look at these products and services more holistically.
Also, the four dimensions influence each other. A change to one will always influence the others. Interestingly, the smallest change can ripple across all four dimensions.
For instance, you decide to start using a software application from a new vendor or supplier. This alone already impacts two of the four dimensions: Partner and Suppliers, and Information and Technology. So does this decision also impact the Organization and People dimension? Yes. Particularly when the support ends up in your lap for example. Furthermore, will it ripple all the way through to the Value Streams and Processes dimension? For sure. Think of the management of knowledge about the application. The new supplier relationship that needs to be managed. The contract with the supplier that impacts your levels of service. And so on.
Obviously, when considering this scenario, there is a lot that needs to be considered. All to ensure the software application is and remains of value to the customer or the consumer. Ignoring a dimension is like asking for trouble. And who wants trouble?
Are the Four Dimensions in ITIL 4 New?
No. Not really.
PPT – People | Process | Technology
For several decades, the service management industry has embraced the concept of PPT. PPT represents the three main components that a service is comprised of.
SPOT – Service | Process | Organization | Technology
In the mid-90s, INTERPROM introduced the SPOT Model™. The model was used as an approach that was applied in every IT Service Management (ITSM) consulting engagement.
Four Ps – People | Processes | Products | Partners
The four dimensions of ITIL 4 are an evolution of the four Ps as seen in ITIL V3. They have been revised to consider the broader aspects of the service ecosystem. As well as the way these aspects influence each other. Above all, to encourage a change in the way we think about service value streams.
1. Organizations and People
The human aspect: The people doing and managing the work.
The Organizations and People dimension sets out the people aspects of service management. This is to be considered when you design, operate, and change service offerings. People include employees, managers, executives, customers, and supplier employees. As well as anybody else who is involved in the creation or consumption of services.
Key considerations of the Organizations and People dimension are:
- Organizational structure: Is your organizational structure geared to enable value creation? For instance, the hierarchies, the teams, the roles, and the responsibilities. Can activities easily be mapped to these roles? ITIL 4 brings new guidance on how IT people work together. For example, flat, or horizontal organizations are oriented around the flow of value streams. They tend to perform better. Because their structure is optimized for flow efficiency. Contrary to hierarchical, or vertical organizations which are geared for resource efficiency.
- Governance: Do your governance structures balance flexibility versus risk? Are people free to make decisions? And can they adapt the way they work?
- Culture: Do you have a culture that is collaborative? Are people focused on delivering value to customers? Or, alternatively, are they operating processes and technologies?
- Communication: Do your communication practices support that your teams work together to deliver value? What is the potential impact on the customer if stakeholders fail to communicate?
- Capacity: Do you have enough people to support your practices? As well as your capabilities? Are bottlenecks in human capacity slowing down the delivery of value? Do you need more people? Or would automation and AI help?
- Competence: Are your people trained to operate and manage services? As well as the value streams? In an efficient manner? Furthermore, where can weaknesses be remedied with education?
- Interfaces: What are the face-to-face and the digital touchpoints between the teams? Do these interfaces support the flow of your value streams?
2. Information and Technology
How information and tools help create value.
Information and Technology are critical enablers of the delivery of value. In many cases, information is the value. Information and technology support the individual service value streams. A well as the broader service management capabilities. Which help you to manage your service portfolio.
When considering the Information and Technology dimension, think about:
- What information do you need to create, reference, or change to deliver value? What are the inputs and outputs of each activity in the value stream? Which information outputs does the customer want?
- Which technology components make up the service? What processing, storage, network, and digital interface components do you need to create value?
- What information do you need to support service management capabilities? Which information do you need to know about the volumes of demand, of capacity, of infrastructure, of operations, of customer satisfaction, and of costs? As well as of other aspects of service management? All to manage an efficient service portfolio.
- Which technology do you need to support service management Successful service management is always supported by service management technology. What tools do you need to run an efficient and effective service portfolio? For example, a CMDB, process automation, a knowledge database, a service catalog, queue management, event monitoring, reporting and analytics.
Other aspects to consider are skills and information security. Do you have the right people to build, maintain, secure, and support the technology that you are introducing? For example, an organization that launches a new information services that is based on big data architectures may have difficulties with finding people with the right skills.
Cybersecurity headlines continue to highlight the potential damage to brand reputation. Security should be “baked in” to a service. From the very beginning the service is designed. It should not be an afterthought.
3. Partners and Suppliers
Thinking about the broader service ecosystem.
Every organization is a provider and consumer of services. It needs Partners and Suppliers to help to deliver its own services. However, the breadth and the depth to which organizations integrate suppliers into their value chains varies. It depends on in-house capabilities, on sourcing biases, and on regulatory requirements.
When considering the Partners and Suppliers dimension, think about:
- Strategy: Which capabilities do you want to retain in-house? And what do you need to outsource? Particularly, to access specialist capabilities?
- Scarcity: Do you have people with the right skills? Or do you need to use partners to fulfil certain capabilities?
- Cost: How does the cost of outsourcing compare to the cost of your in-house capabilities?
- Relationships: Do you have good relations with supplier representatives, including support people? Are they responsive to incidents and requests for change?
- Flexibility: Do your supplier contracts allow for quick and simple changes without penalties? Or do they require renegotiations?
- Performance: Are current suppliers performing as expected? Can they handle peaks in demand?
4. Value Streams and Processes
How the work happens. And why.
Value Streams and Processes introduces the new Service Value Chain that is central to ITIL 4. The ITIL 4 service value chain model is more flexible than the linear lifecycle approach in ITIL v3. The service value chain supports linear flows and iterative approaches (such as Agile). The ITIL 4 service value chain model is generic and flexible. It enables any combination of steps to support different patterns of delivery.
The service value chain is an operating model which helps you to describe how a service value stream flows across various activities. From demand to supply. A service value streams represents the delivery process of a service. It is the chain of activities which results in the outcome of a service for the customer.
Each service value stream combines different types of activity in a different order. Unlike the ITIL V3 service lifecycle, it is not linear. A value stream can jump back and forth as necessary. Organizations should map a value stream for every product or service to provide a holistic picture of how value is created.
The ITIL 4 Foundation publication provides examples of how the service value chain operating model supports the creation of different types of value. This includes incident resolution and resolving a software issue. As well as creating a service and the development of new software.
When considering the Value Streams and Processes dimension, think about:
- What is the definition of value here? Why are we doing this?
- Which steps create value? And which steps are waste? For instance, which activities add no value for the customer?
- What are the steps that could be automated?
- Which steps are performed manually by a human being?
- Which steps are performed by a third party?
Remember to always focus on value. Otherwise, there is a risk that waste activity will displace activity that creates value. This can easily compromise your productivity. It is waste that stops you from doing more with less.
Internal and External Influences to the ITIL 4 Dimensions
Internal and external influences are a broad set of factors. They influence how you run service management. These factors must be addressed in the design and operation of the service value streams. This ensures that the services fit into the broader context of your business. As well as your industry. ITIL 4 uses the PESTLE framework. It systematically addresses Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Legal, and Environmental factors. For example, political regulations such as GDPR and HIPAA require particular ways of doing things to ensure consumers and their privacy are protected.
Balancing the ITIL 4 Dimensions
A singular focus on just one of the dimensions causes issues across the other dimensions. The key to balance the four dimensions is to consider all factors when you design a service. They are not an afterthought. When a service value stream changes, all four dimensions should be reconsidered. If not, the value chain may become unstable. Consider all the factors when you apply a change. It helps you to maintain a balance throughout the lifetime of a service.
In conclusion, the four dimension are, and have been a big deal. Revisit your practices. And identify where a dimension may need more attention. Obviously, it pays off!
Call to Action
Could you use a little help with applying the ITIL 4 dimensions? We would be pleased to assist you. Check out our ITIL consulting service. Or work with one of our experienced coaches.
Or consider our certification training.
Or choose from one of our popular workshops.