Despite studying software engineering and computer security to Masters’ level at university, my career took me into technical support rather than development.
Working on a service desk – at the front end of IT, dealing with customers – worked for me: being customer focused, interacting with people sharing feedback and improvements through the service lifecycle.
And this is where I was introduced to ITIL® and the importance of professional development and being certified. Ten years later, I’m still developing and learning new skills – this time, ITIL 4.
At Co-Op Digital, we look to Agile and Lean practices and incorporate them in how we apply service management. And, as a service manager in Digital Technology Operations, I’m working in a DevOps environment. We focus on releasing early and often, delivering value as quickly as possible and then iterating to ensure our services continue to meet our user needs. The challenge is to do this while having the appropriate level of governance in place to ensure our services remain safe, reliable and secure.
This means not slowing the speed of delivery but using proper change control practices to minimize risk. We have developed a highly automated, continuous delivery-based change process which empowers teams to release frequently with low risk, ensuring value is being realized. We can apply this process for certain change models and ITIL 4 codifies our approach through the new change control practice.
Fitting ITIL 4 into the new world
What I’ve also learned from certifying in ITIL 4 is that governance is now treated as an overall and integrated activity. It’s got a recognized “seat at the table”.
Also, the holistic approach in the latest guidance supports the concept of value co-creation. There’s no division between the business, IT and the customer; everyone should work together to define and co-create value.
The concept of value streams (a common practice in organizations embracing DevOps ways of working) in getting things done at high velocity to create value is now realized more fully for service management with the introduction of the Service Value Chain in ITIL4. Equally, the ITIL Guiding Principles, such as Progress iteratively with feedback, overlap well with Agile principles rather than seeming like distant “relatives”.
With a bigger focus now on change quality, the concept of the Change Advisory Board may well become a thing of the past. Instead, having sound testing, monitoring, diagnostics release and automation built into the development pipeline makes it a more natural flow.
And the ITIL 4 approach feels like something you don’t need to be an IT practitioner to understand, therefore helping non-IT people understand its purpose.
ITIL 4 for new and existing practitioners
If you’re already working day-to-day in IT operations, ITIL 4 gives an appreciation of how the business world is evolving and how IT needs to be integrated as part of that world. It’s vital to understand this, especially with the growth of services in the cloud and mobile technologies.
It accommodates and complements what’s happening in digital organizations today, especially those undergoing digital transformation and the change practices that it requires.
Also, if you’re new to the world of service management, ITIL 4 is a great place to start. As most organizations are moving in this direction, it provides a very practical and easy to read way of working and the latest best practice approach.
Making ITIL work for your organization
Overall, ITIL 4 is a more practical and appropriate approach to today’s ways of working, is more integrated and has a clear definition of value.
We can use the guiding principles from ITIL 4 and introduce improvements to our current ways of working. If we “start where you are” there’s no need to do things from scratch; we can test what works, get feedback, add automation and continue to iterate so that service management practices work for us. By “keeping it simple and practical”, through the concept of a minimum viable process, this is not overly complex to adopt.
The switch from processes in ITIL v3 to practices in ITIL 4 shows that it’s not just a set of steps you have to take to reach an outcome, but broader – including culture, people, partners and technology – and more about understanding the guidance and adapting it in a way that works for your organization.