If the premise of ITIL was always to ensure that IT services were fit for quality and purpose and ensured business would remain competitive and responsive– it is safe to say there have been a few issues with it over the past few years.
Many IT practitioners become obsessed with ITIL for ITIL sake – and lose sight of the overall purpose of the framework. Lots of emphasis on qualifications over practical application. Many clients want to know which version of the framework or which books you can now find Change Management in! Why is this relevant if the purpose is to improve services. Who cares which version it is, or which book it's in – or whether it was in the original library and made a come back two versions later. Surely the point is as above – every organisation must design their services to suit the size, scale and complexity of the business they support – or what is the point?
There is increasing interest in the relevance of IT Service Management as we move into the digital era with promises of AI and Cognitive Automation, but surely the point is that business must adapt and survive, or die in a world where start-ups now seem to have the agile advantage over the very large corporates who struggle to adjust. So, if Service Management supports that objective, then surely it’s still relevant?
Historically we have seen the use (or misuse) of SLA’s – Service Level Agreements. These are now being superseded by Experience Level Agreements (XLA’s) – does this mean IT is finally listening to its customers? The new outside-in view of IT Service is being driven primarily by a new generation and workforce of technically savvy demanding employees who don’t care what KPI’s IT has written – they are all about the PRODUCTIVITY. Can they do their jobs? Surely it was always about this.
So, whether you are a supporter or vehement hater of ITIL and all that has gone before in versions 1-3 – does version 4 serve a purpose that is current, valid and that offers REAL value to the organisations who intend to adopt the principles? I decided to take a look to see what I could establish as it is still early days.
Using an integrated ITIL4 framework approach this new version of ITIL acknowledges almost all business processes are now digital and focus has to be on value delivery from the service provider, incorporating many concepts from DevOps, LEAN and Agile. Value is a core area of focus for this new version. Increasing speed, reducing cost and improving quality are the key areas delivered through a LEAN approach. These are all necessary to meet the challenges businesses are facing today. The premise of DevOps was to create a culture of collaboration in consistently siloed teams and ways of working.
As the environment and workforce demand more and at greater speed – traditional IT may struggle to keep up and the customers will find alternative service suppliers – shadow IT is becoming more and more of an issue – but this is due to a lack of delivering VALUE to the organisation. The focus of v3 was on processes – 26 of them no less. The new version looks more at what capabilities are required for IT to service and enable the business. One of my previous blogs talked about how many frameworks now exist and how tribal people have been about the adoption of these in isolation. The value comes with the integration of lots of principles which is where ITIL4 framework has aimed.
ITIL was always good at saying WHAT should be done – it didn’t tell HOW that should happen which created issues for many organisations who then sought external assistance. The Service Value System is a central tenet, holistic thinking around how all the parts of any system need to work together.
It seems to have included the concept of managing projects and building and developing software products or services into the framework rather than it sitting outside of the framework.
Process has evolved to become practices, something that IT needs to be good at. There are 34 basic practices broken into 3 key areas, general business, service management and technical categories into logical groupings. Additions include organisational change, talent management and risk. Some have updates such as relationship management. Ultimately the Service Value Chain crosses many practices to deliver value.
So whilst bringing together multiple frameworks might elevate the value proposition – how that translates to delivering VALUE to customers who in turn are trying to deliver VALUE internally has yet to be seen!
I believe the guiding principles are valid, however all of this still relies on organisational culture, great leadership, collaboration, communication and co-operation across current organisation structures not necessarily aligned with shared vision or objectives. Overcoming this is paramount to whether adoption of ITIL4 framework happens – much as it was with ITIL 1, 2, and 3 -in my opinion!