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ITIL practices

How the ITIL 4 methodology interprets the concept of "service management", what benefits it brings to the organization and 10 key practices of the updated library.

Initially, the ITIL methodology became known to companies as the standard for IT service management. At the same time, its main ideas go beyond that and are applicable to any service organization. The new version of ITIL 4 contains recommendations for businesses with different levels of maturity, which seek to apply best practices in designing their own service delivery model.

While some of the approaches described in ITIL 4 are familiar from previous editions, the latest is a significant breakthrough as it revises most of the established ITSM practices.

In ITIL 4, service management is a set of organizational practices that help create value to customers in the form of services.

The 10 Key Practices of ITIL 4

The concept of "practices" appears in ITIL 4. It is broader than the "processes" from the previous version and takes into account such factors as personnel, their core competencies, technology, etc.

Continuous improvement

In ITSM all activities should be aimed at providing quality services and at their constant improvement. This is possible through continuous results analysis, problem management and knowledge management as an opportunity to reuse experience and solve issues faster.

In ITIL 4, the ideas of continuous improvement have been developed and integrated into service management practices themselves. Great emphasis is placed on regularity, consistency of improvement, and acceleration of the action-response cycle.

New in ITIL 4:

  • Improvements apply to the customer as well.
  • An iterative approach to improvement is described.
  • Stakeholders need to express their needs, desires and concerns, and take risks.
  • Perfectionism is doomed to failure and blocks timely improvements.
  • Continuous improvement is commonplace.
  • Celebrating successful improvements is recommended.
  • A quick feedback loop is encouraged.
  • Lessons should be learned from failures, not blamed.
  • Top management involvement is encouraged.

Incident Management.

Incident management practices focus on fixing interrupted access to services as quickly as possible and correcting their quality according to business priorities.

In ITIL 4 one of the most popular practices was developed: the principles of swarming to solve complex incidents (elimination of incidents by self-organizing teams) were described, the prioritization was detailed not only for the incident as a whole, but also in relation to the team eliminating it. Incidents are now seen as part of the overall service backlog, with "safe experiments" in the infrastructure acceptable for their resolution.

New in ITIL 4:

  • An incident can now be handled by a team with a dynamic composition (swarming), not necessarily a fixed team. It is recognized that this method is more expensive, making it more difficult to assess responsibility for the incident. It is recommended for complex incidents.
  • "Safe experiments" can be used to diagnose incidents.
  • Prioritization is considered mainly from the performer's point of view and in the context of assigning a task to a specific specialist. For example, assigning an incident to a freelancer is also prioritization.
  • Very flexible prioritization is possible.
  • The priority (internal) can be separate for each support line.
  • Kanban board can be used for prioritization.
  • Incomplete tasks should be limited (a principle from Lean).
  • Incidents are part of the general backlog.
  • In some cases, once the incident is confirmed by the user, the SD employee or manager can check the incident.
  • It is desirable to classify incidents using Machine Learning.

Problem Management

The practice of "problem management" helps to prevent and eliminate the possibility of incidents or recurring problems by identifying relationships and taking action to address root causes.

ITIL 4 added depth to problem management practices (now analyzing problems by process, product, vendor, and personnel) and built them into the overall service backlog. Access to problem card logging can be restricted and risk management practices are applied to their handling.

New in ITIL 4:

  • Problems are analyzed in all aspects (4P principle). For example, a problem can be contained in a contract.
  • The scope of problems is governed by access to problem registration.
  • Risk analysis methods are applied to problems.
  • Problems are placed in the general backlog.
  • It is acceptable to use Kanban boards and Lean approach to control problems.
  • A known bug can be a separate object or a problem parameter.
  • Problems are easier to solve when the software is proprietary.
  • Workarounds to prevent incidents increase technical debt.
  • In complex high-load systems, a problem may have more than one cause.

Service Request Management

The practice of "service request management" assists in the processing of user requests for new equipment or any other standard services.

ITIL 4 focuses on maximizing the standardization of service requests, automating their execution, and significantly impacting the practice on overall service customer satisfaction.

New in ITIL 4:

  • A service catalog view to display only service requests has emerged.
  • Service requests should be standardized as much as possible.
  • Popular and uncomplicated service requests should be automated.
  • Service request management practices have a significant impact on user satisfaction.

Change Support

The practice of "change support" helps to make any changes to services faster, assessing risks and the potential impact of downtime. It can be used to avoid making changes during critical periods of activity and minimize any impact of unplanned changes.

ITIL 4 focuses on supporting change during implementation and reducing the risk of change rejection. Change requests themselves are treated as part of the overall service backlog. A large flow of changes should be managed by modern methods: CI\CD, DevOps, Agile. A balance between efficiency, throughput, and risk is important.

New in ITIL 4:

  • The primary goal is to support the implementation of change because it is subject to the risk of rejection due to multiple circumstances.
  • There is no goal to consolidate all changes into a single change plan (it is recognized that there are too many).
  • There needs to be a balance between efficiency, bandwidth, and risk.
  • Changes are treated as two streams: routine and massive highly automated.
  • The service has its own backlog (not a product backlog).
  • Software changes are handled through CI/CD (continuous integration and delivery), DevOps, Agile.
  • Infrastructure changes can be done through Waterfall.
  • A balance in methodologies must be maintained.
  • In the case of CI/CD, change registration is automatic and almost invisible.
  • "Safe experiments" are used.

Risks are reduced by reducing the volume of each change made, automatic methods of rolling back changes and automatic configuration management.
To increase the speed of changes in CI/CD technology changes are not coordinated, they are low-risk. Reconciliation is taking the change into a sprint. Changes are not analyzed if automatic testing does not detect errors.

Knowledge Management.

The goal of knowledge management practices is to increase the efficiency and usability of information and knowledge in the company. Knowledge management allows you to get the right data on time, in a convenient format and in accordance with the access policy.

ITIL 4 added to the practice of learning and purposeful search for knowledge in the organization, introduced the concept of "Absorptive capacity of the organization". The knowledge itself is treated as an asset and can be explicit or implicit (according to the SECI model).

New in ITIL 4:

  • Introduced the concept of Absorptive Capacity of the organization.
  • Knowledge as an asset – knowledge that carries value to the organization.
  • Explicit and tacit knowledge (SECI model).
  • Practices include: learning, purposeful knowledge retrieval, knowledge negotiation.

Event management and monitoring.

This practice involves observing events (certain changes to the system), recording them, and generating reports. Event management helps to proactively prevent disruptions and maintain a high level of service availability in the company without interruptions.

ITIL 4 pays more attention to the task of monitoring, this is reflected in the name of the practice. Reactive (classic) and proactive (proactive) monitoring are described, and the concept of a Service Health Model is introduced.

New in ITIL 4:

  • Reactive and proactive monitoring is conducted.
  • Active and passive (initiated by the IT-activity itself) monitoring is performed.
  • Introduced the concept of a Service Health Model: e.g., monitoring of the full transaction path from client request to execution.

Service Level Management

The practice of "service level management" helps you set clear service delivery goals and track compliance with those goals through reports. Includes business services and service level data.

ITIL 4 has greatly expanded the practice and increased the level of standardization. The focus of the practice is to make sense of service delivery outcomes. The concept of service level agreement has merged both SLA and OLA (OLA no longer exists as a separate entity), and the concept of quality itself now considers implicit service requirements, service UX, feedback, and quality ratings from experts. The practice of "change and report management" is highlighted to support the collection of information on the quality of service delivery.

New in ITIL 4:

  • OLA is no more.
  • UX is measured: e.g., the number of returns in an interface.
  • Service interdependencies are analyzed.
  • Both specified parameters and implied parameters are recommended.
  • Satisfaction is also assessed among performers.
  • Information is gathered in the process of measurement and report management.
  • In the process, a reflection on the results of service provision takes place.
  • Improvements are made in the practice of "continuous improvement."
  • Emphasis is shifted to collecting feedback.
  • Customer requirements are much broader than what is captured in the SLA.
  • Service customers conduct service quality reviews both in conjunction with service providers and on their own.

Management of service configurations

The practice of "service configuration management" collects information about the organization's assets, technology, and employees. The primary purpose is to maintain accountable records, assess risks, and form interdependencies.

ITIL 4 has introduced value and product flow accounting into the scope of the practice.

New in ITIL 4:

  • Value streams, services, units, people, roles, reports are configuration units.
  • Products are indirectly attributed to configuration units.

IT asset management.

This practice is closely related to configuration management. However, the primary goal of asset management is to optimize the cost of asset ownership and maintenance.

ITIL 4 looks at new types of assets – knowledge – and the practice itself is no longer part of configuration management, it is highlighted as a stand-alone practice.

New in ITIL 4:

  • Knowledge can be an asset.
  • The core activities are identical to configuration management practices.

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