ITIL 4 Explained

ITIL 4 fireworks
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We now live in such a fast-paced and ever-changing world that both businesses and individuals need to be more agile, be constantly ready, and equipped with the right skills in order to survive. The Fourth Industrial Revolution has brought digital disruption and new technologies with it, and one consequence is the need to adopt and accept new ways of working. For us at AXELOS, one consequence of the Fourth Industrial Revolution is ITIL 4 – an update to ITIL v3 (2011 Edition) – that will help organizations, IT service management (ITSM) professionals, and others working in the digital world tackle the challenges brought on by digital disruption. Please keep reading for ITIL explained.

What’s new in ITIL 4?

ITIL 4 still includes those elements from previous versions of ITIL that remain very much fundamental to service management and ITSM. But it also provides a new digital operating model – a basis that’s both practical and flexible, which is designed to help organizations on their digital journey. Plus, the impact of technology on business, and the integration of ITIL best practice with Agile, DevOps, and digital transformation all play a role in the new framework.

The key elements of ITIL 4 are the four dimensions, the guiding principles, the move from processes to practices, and the ITIL service value system.

ITIL 4 puts service management into a strategic context by looking at ITSM, development, operations, business relationships, and governance holistically. And because ITIL 4 brings these different functions together it has evolved into an integrated model for digital service management.

Service Value System

The service value system (SVS) is a key part of ITIL 4 and facilitates value co-creation. It shows how all the components and activities of an organization work together for the creation of value. The SVS has interfaces with other organizations, and thus forms an ecosystem through which it can create value for those organizations, their stakeholders, and customers.

Service Value System
Source: AXELOS, “ITIL Foundation, ITIL 4 Edition” (2019)

The service value chain is the centerpiece of the SVS. It’s a flexible operating model for creating, delivering, and continuous improving of services. There are six key activities within the service value chain: plan; improve; engage; design and transition; obtain/build; and deliver and support. These activities can be combined in different sequences. Therefore, the service value chain allows an organization to define a number of variants of value streams, such as the service lifecycle from ITIL v3.

Source: AXELOS, “ITIL Foundation, ITIL 4 Edition” (2019)

As the service value chain is flexible, it means that an organization can effectively and efficiently react to changing demands from stakeholders.

The four dimensions

ITIL 4 is all about a holistic approach to service management. Because of this, the framework defines four dimensions that are critical to creating value for stakeholders including customers.

These four dimensions are

  1. Organizations and people – the corporate culture needs to support an organization’s objectives, and the right level of staff capacity and competency.
  2. Information and technology – within the SVS, this refers to the information, knowledge, and technologies that are needed for the management of services.
  3. Partners and suppliers – the suppliers that are involved in the design, deployment, delivery, support, and continual improvement of services and their relationship to the organization.
  4. Value streams and processes – are the different parts of the organization working in an integrated and coordinated way? This is important for the creation of value through products and services.

An appropriate amount of focus needs to go into each of these dimensions such that the SVS remains balanced and effective.

Guiding principles

The guiding principles are not new. ITIL 4 now has seven (rather than the previous nine), which are meant to help IT professionals adopt and adapt the framework to their own needs and circumstances. They should be followed at every stage of service delivery and enable professionals to approach and navigate difficult decisions.

The seven ITIL 4 guiding principles are:

  1. Focus on value
  2. Start where you are
  3. Progress iteratively with feedback
  4. Collaborate and promote visibility
  5. Think and work holistically
  6. Keep it simple and practical
  7. Optimize and automate.

From processes to practices

ITIL has previously used “processes” to manage IT services. ITIL 4 expands the processes into “practices.” These share the same value and importance as the current ITIL processes. Through the processes, elements such as culture, technology, information, and data management can be considered to get a holistic vision of the ways of working.

The SVS includes 34 management practices. They are sets of organizational resources for performing work or accomplishing an objective.

From ITIL v3 to ITIL 4

ITIL 4 will help IT professionals compete in an increasingly complex market and ensure that they stay relevant. Start building your career with ITIL or get reaccredited from ITIL v3 to demonstrate your digital skills and meet your career goals. It’s only a small step from v3 to 4 but it will be a big step for your career.

Product Ambassador, ITSMI at AXELOS

Akshay Anand is an IT service management professional, with over 13 years'​ global experience in designing and implementing ITSM , and managing IT services. He has extensive experience in delivering ITSM transformations, leveraging tools such as ServiceNow and holds the ITIL Expert Certification. He is currently the ITSM Service Architect and Product Manager at AXELOS.

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2 Responses

  1. Dear Sir,
    I got my ITIL V3 certification | foundation level since 2009.
    Where l planned to continue to the next level (intermediate level) but unfortunately, I didn’t have the opportunity to continue the roadmap of ITIL.

    Now… if I decide to move from V3 to V4, what’s your advice or recommendation for this step.

    Pretty thanks for your time and consideration

    Best Regards,

    1. Hi Ammar, the ITIL v3 intermediate certifications are not yet retired (AXELOS will provide these details in due course). Thus, if feasible, you can consider obtaining 17 credits (points) in the ITIL v3 certification scheme. This will make you eligible for the ITIL 4 Managing Professional Transition course & exam, which will give you the ITIL 4 Managing Professional Designation. The Transition module is due to launch in the 2nd half of 2019.

      If you are unable to obtain the necessary points to become eligible for the Transition module, then you can consider taking ITIL 4 Foundation right away.

      You can find more details here: (look in the section marked “How to transition”

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