In February 2019, ITIL 4 was released to meet the need for the IT service management (ITSM) guidance to better reflect the needs of recent IT trends such as digital transformation, agility, cloud computing, DevOps, and Lean. The design of ITIL 4 also aimed to correct the previous position of its predecessor ITIL v3 being considered a difficult framework to set up with others. The new approach allows ITIL 4 to be interoperable with other frameworks and best practices, mitigating some of the biggest criticisms of ITIL v3.
Please read on to find out more.
ITIL 4’s mindset changes
ITIL 4 has tried to reuse and adopt concepts from other frameworks and best practices such as Lean, DevOps, and Agile rather than simply focusing on being rigorous in respecting ITSM processes and organizational functions. There are also some approach/mindset changes that have enhanced the interoperability of ITIL 4 with other practices such as DevOps.
In ITIL 4 “value” is positioned as a central element rather than a “service” as in ITIL v3. The highest-level concept of ITIL 4 is the Service Value System (SVS) which is pulled from Lean Value Stream as a replacement of the Service Lifecycle in ITIL v3. Now, ITIL 4 not only focuses on service delivery (as it did in ITIL v3) but rather on value creation for stakeholders.
With a perspective that’s now focused on value, we’ll no longer speak of "process models," but rather of "value systems" or "value chains." DevOps uses such Value Streams to map every activity needed by the organization to create value, and this Value Stream is put into practice in the DevOps deployment pipeline.
The ITIL 4 Service Value Chain
3 examples of how ITIL 4 is different and working with other approaches such as DevOps
- Value co-creation is one of the main concepts of ITIL 4, it can be defined as “the joint creation of value by the organization and the customer in order to allow the customer to co-build the service experience to adapt it to its context." And when ITIL 4 is compared to ITIL v3 by way of an example – the ITIL v3 guidance was talking about Business Relationship Management as an important process to understand the business needs. Whereas ITIL 4 involves the customer from the ideation to the test of the new product or service. This reflects the principles of Agile Software Development and DevOps, and in ITIL 4 the collaboration with stakeholders helps to break the silos between the IT organization, their customers, and their suppliers and vendors.
- One of the seven guiding principles of ITIL 4 is to “Progress iteratively with feedback,” the root of which is the Agile methodology on continuous improvement and the Kaizen mindset in Lean. ITIL 4 recommends that organizations set up an improvement process with small steps, even for large projects. Evaluate each step immediately and start again where necessary. In DevOps, using small batches helps to streamline the value delivery flow and get immediate feedback. Working in small batches also allows a quick test of new features to find out if a given improvement will have the desired effect and, failing this, it allows you to correct or revise as quickly as possible – which reduces the risk of an error or an outage.
- Another guiding principle of ITIL 4 is to “Optimize and automate.” By assessing IT activities and workflows, an activity handled by a team member could be optimized to whatever degree is possible and after that, it could be automated. This increases IT efficiency, reduces costs, and ideally delivers a better employee or customer experience. “Automate everything” is one of the key principles of DevOps. Where an organization should include automation as a continuous improvement enabler to achieve a fully automated deployment pipeline. As a result of the use of automation, the reduced manual work of skilled individuals allows them to focus on more value-adding tasks and innovation.
How ITIL 4 has enhanced ITIL’s interoperability
Before ITIL 4, the DevOps community viewed ITIL as a dead framework not adapted to the agility and the speed of software release cycles of DevOps. To them:
- ITIL was more focused on standards, processes, and metrics
- Changes should wait for the Change Advisory Board (CAB) to be approved before execution
- The IT organization was split by functions with well-defined responsibilities such that the IT Operations Management (ITOM) team didn’t join the Applications Management team when developing a new feature or working on bug fixing.
But everything changed with the release of ITIL 4. Now we have a framework that encourages collaboration between teams and focuses on delivering value and co-creation through seven guiding principles that are inspired by practices such as Lean, Agile, and DevOps.
As a result, the DevOps community has started considering ITIL 4 as a companion on the digital transformation journey. Potentially looking for a set of merged ways of working that creates a synergy between the two methodologies in order to get the best value (and preserving the investments that many organizations have made to adopt ITIL).
ITIL 4 encourages organizations to break silos, to foster collaboration and communication within organizations and with stakeholders, and to adapt to new IT trends. ITIL also encourages its practitioners to keep practices simple and realistic, which can translate into the recognition that too many organizations have attempted in the past to implement ITIL literally, making ITSM complex and not very flexible.
In my opinion, I believe that ITIL takes a more mature turn in ITIL 4 and emerges from the rigidly structured ITIL v3. This new version seems more connected to reality, more open to other practices, and – above all – more agile. In short, ITIL 4 has become an ITSM framework that is well anchored in its time.
This is my point of view, but what do you think? Is ITIL 4 now more interoperable with other practices?