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ITIL Intermediate: Service Strategy – towards better business and customer outcomes

Male IT service managers looking at monitors at desks while female IT service managers examine data on wall in background of image
Over the past five years, I believe that – for some IT organizations – the ITIL® concept of Service Strategy (SS) got left behind.

Why is this? IT organizations have been buried in the “trenches” of an endless loop which includes immediate uptake of design, transition and operation. And those organizations haven’t realized how service strategy could help them do a much better job.

The ITIL Intermediate Service Strategy course helps all practitioners understand the strategic perspective of why and what they’re doing and how it could work better through a service strategy lens.

What’s the point of Service Strategy?

Service Strategy is about making sure the service provider organization follows the direction of the wider organization. With SS practices and capability in place – plus the new ITIL 4 approaches – you can create a cohesive plan for the future, which is about handling high velocity IT and digital transformation.

Taking a strategic approach to services means having a strategic partnership with the business, understanding business outcomes and the needs of service consumers.

For example, the IT service provider group in a US-based manufacturer had rarely said “no” to creating a new IT service for the company’s engineering teams. This ever-growing list of services, plus the roll-out of a major, new IT service would quadruple internal customers without a corresponding increase in budget or resource.

Using service strategy approaches including service portfolio management, the IT service provider began to define the services it would deliver, replace or retire based on business cases, governance and understanding the lifetime provision of the service.

Ultimately, embracing service strategy supported the roll-out of a major, internally-facing customer service initiative and established ongoing support and the ability to manage all incoming demand.

With the latest evolution of ITIL, ITIL 4’s emphasis on value, outcome, cost and risk, having skills in service strategy will equip organizations with a greater understanding of those things and prepare the service consumer for value co-creation.

Service Strategy capabilities help IT organizations pull away from the old-school relationship model between the service provider and customer. Instead, behaving as strategic partners is an essential element to function in the new digital economy.

A world without Service Strategy?

For some time, IT organizations have been struggling with customer demands for services that are simultaneously good and delivered fast. And IT’s response has been: “You can have it good or fast; you can’t have both.”
 
However, service consumers know it’s possible to have both and must have it to survive and thrive in business. They won’t accept the binary choice previously offered by IT.

So, SS principles help IT professionals understand the customer, what they value, the business outcomes and can make better choices and use an iterative approach to deliver both good and fast.

Individual skills in SS

Today’s IT practitioners are more often working in cross-functional teams rather than silos. Therefore, all team members need to understand where other functional teams are coming from. Service Strategy gives you a high-level view of the organization and how it should work successfully together.

High velocity IT requires this type of understanding and helps individuals to move out of their normal “lanes” of travel.

When teaching ITIL Intermediate modules such as Service Strategy, I see lightbulbs going on among the students. So, I’m encouraging more students to continue with Intermediate studies before moving to ITIL 4.

Once they’re on a course, they see that the skills learned are relevant for anyone in IT – strategic, tactical or operational – to support the organization’s strategies and help them relate better to customers and users.

This knowledge also enables people to see what elements are missing from their IT organization – many of which are becoming more and more mission-critical.

Read more Blog Posts in our series covering the ITIL Intermediate modules

ITIL Intermediate – Operational Support and Analysis (OSA): Combating chaos

ITIL Intermediate: Planning, Protection and Optimization (PPO)

ITIL Intermediate Service Transition – making IT change less painful

ITIL Intermediate v3 Service Operation – keeping the lights on

ITIL Intermediate v3: Service Design – enabling value creation

ITIL Intermediate – Service Offerings and Agreements (SOA)

ITIL Intermediate: Release, control, validation – many happy releases

ITIL Intermediate: a pathway to ITIL 4 – Continual Service Improvement

Read more AXELOS Blog Posts by Lisa Hodges

ITIL: bridging the gap between IT services today and tomorrow

Built on ITIL: a service management foundation for the future

Five ways for project managers to start realizing benefits

How to be ready: the need for speed in ITSM 2018

Enterprise service management: deploying ITSM without the IT

Bi-modal/two-speed IT: the chaos with traditional and agile projects

PMBOK and PRINCE2®: how Project Managers can survive in an agile world


The content of ITIL v3 Intermediate modules is key for professionals working in ITSM today due to the essential knowledge they contain, creating increased understanding and the ability to handle immediate work challenges more effectively.

Also ITIL-certified practitioners wanting to gain accreditation in the new ITIL 4 guidance can get a helping hand from the existing v3 credit system. By obtaining 17 credits from any combination of the ITIL Intermediate modules or ITIL Practitioner you can take the new Transition Module to achieve ITIL 4 Managing Professional. More information about ITIL 4 Managing Professional will be released throughout the second half of 2019.

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ITIL Intermediate Service Strategy Core Guidance

Read the Service Strategy core guidance to learn more about the content of this ITIL Intermediate module.

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