ITIL®4 Foundation Certificate in IT Service Management
- [Dave] Hi, everyone, and welcome back to another episode of QA's ITIL 4 podcast. I'm your host Dave, and with me once again I have Paul Wigzel and Martin Waters. Today we're talking about one of the most important parts of ITIL 4, the ITIL service value system, or SVS for short. To get straight into it, Martin, over to you.
- [Martin] The service value system in ITIL 4 is really at the heart of really what's driven this next version of the ITIL guidance to come around. 'Cause we see, and it's evolution from previous versions of ITIL, that this need for us to systemically, you know, see how we do a world of service as a true system. And there's so many components and facets to that, that I think previously as much as we had other principles like the service life cycle in ITIL version 3, as strong as that was, it still didn't incorporate all the elements that are so crucial to any modern world of how we're gonna deliver services, ultimately in a valuable way, to the end consumers of those services. So that is very much the positioning of the ITIL service value system, or SVS as we're calling it, in ITIL 4. We see the thing, everything we do around service, in a systemic way, and within that there's several elements we've got to consider. But it starts with input, and there's inputs around opportunities and demand, 'cause any organization, any services provision organization, surely can't exist in isolation of its own consumers. And those end consumers often will present demand and opportunity for both existing but also new services. And the whole focus of the output of the SVS, and we'll talk about the various elements within it, is very much about value and ultimately delivering something of worth to the actual service consumers. But in this phrase of what we call a co-created way. So Paul, do you want to talk about co-creation?
- [Paul] Yeah, 'cause that's a change, that is a change, and we need to look at what does value co-creation actually mean? It's a fairly abstract phrase, or abstract word to use. I mean, you could describe it as something like bi-directional communication or working together, but obviously we want to improve and implore people to work in a collaborative way. But when we're talking about the co-creation of value, we're moving away from the kind of traditional view of a service provider provides services and/or products to the user, or to the customer. And ITIL 4 starts to talk about things like the consumer, so it doesn't really matter whether it's the user or the customer or the consumer, and we're moving away from being a service provider just providing to you, we work together if you like, in almost a form of partnership. And together we co-create what value is. We can, as a traditional service provider, provide a service to the traditional customer, but we rely upon the customer's feedback to let us know whether that's actually delivering the value that we intended. An example, if you like, of value co-creation, would be at QA itself, every time we run a training course, be that a classroom-based training course or a virtual training course, if you're attending from anywhere, or whatever. It doesn't matter. We ask you at the end of the course to provide some feedback. So every delegate within that course is asked to provide feedback. Why do we ask you to provide feedback? If you passed the exam, was that successful? Well, maybe, if there is an exam. But if there isn't an exam, how do we know whether it's successful or not? And actually, was your goal when you attended the course to simply pass the exam, or was it to gain information, to gain knowledge to be able to take back and use in your organization? So we ask you to provide feedback so that we, as the service provider, know whether we are delivering the value that you, as the consumer, wanted. And then your QA account manager would discuss that with the person who's actually purchased the training as well as you. If the scores are lower than we expect, they'll come and talk to you as well. If the scores are really high then they'll come and make sure that you're happy with that. There's a lot of to-ing and fro-ing of communication to try and ensure that what we think is value being delivered to you, the consumer, is actually what you are expecting and what you are finding useful. So when we talk about this co-creation of value, it's about active collaboration between both the service provider and the consumer. So it's an abstract word, but effectively it means we're working together to make sure that each of the stakeholders, the people who have a vested interest, are getting value from the interaction we have. And that's the ultimate output of the ITIL service value system.
- [Martin] So if we talk about the ITIL certifying system in terms of the elements, given that we understand this, the end output is this focus on co-creation of value, we say the actually ITIL service value system consists of five main elements. And those are what we call the guiding principles, which we can talk about another podcast, but we'll go into that in a little bit of detail now. Another element is governance, other elements are what we call the service value chain, the practices, and the focus around continual improvement. So there's five building blocks, if you will, that make up the service value system. But I'll just start with the first one there, the one that we talked about, guiding principles. And just briefly, the guiding principles are very much built around this idea that the ways of working, recommendations, really, about how any person, any team in the organization, can use those ITIL guiding principles, of which there are seven of them in the ITIL 4 guidance, to hopefully ensure that how they work and the tasks and activities that they do, is always got clear focus, ultimately, on having the right meaning to the actual value that we're trying to create, so to make sure the products and services that we're about as a service provision organization. And we always say the guiding principles are enduring, they go across every level of every team, every management in the organization. And like I said, one of the pillars, one of the building blocks that make up the SVS. Paul, do you want to talk about governance?
- [Paul] Yeah, every organization has a set of rules. Nobody could work in an anarchy. Whatever organization you're in, wherever you are in the world, whatever area of business you have, there are rules you need to adhere to, be that financial rules or data retention rules or medical rules or manufacturing rules. There's a whole series of rules and regulations that your organization, in the grander sense of the word, needs to adhere to. Generally speaking, if you're providing IT service, if you're providing any services or products, you don't get necessarily to set the governance requirements that your organization has to work within. That's something that's set by a senior management team or the chief exec or whoever it is that's running your organization. But every organization has a series of, you might not call them rules at work, you might call them policies. So you might have a release policy or a security policy or a financial policy that you have to, have to...
- Adhere to?
- Adhere to, thank you, that's the right word, have to adhere to, make sure that you work within that structure. You're not allowed to deviate from that. And part of governance is exactly that, is having very clear structure, very clear policy as to what we're allowed to do and what we're not allowed to do.
- [Dave] Just, before we move on, in terms of what ITIL has to say about governance, is there something in particular that's worth drawing our attention to?
- [Paul] You'll love this. The means by which an organization is directed and controlled.
- [Dave] Okay, so ITIL tells us that governance is important.
- [Paul] Absolutely.
- Good, good.
- [Paul] But, but doesn't specify. Because depending on where you are, and depending on what area of business you've got, there are gonna be different requirements, there are gonna be different policies that you have to adhere to.
- [Dave] Yeah, of course, and every organization will have their own governance and policies. So it's, within the context of ITIL it's not a checklist of exact things people need to do or organizations need to do, it's more of a framework to say, these are key things that you must have if you are gonna be successful and deliver value.
- [Paul] Yes, but we're both hesitant there because we always talk about ITIL as being a framework of advice and guidance that you can pick and choose and adapt and adopt the bits that work for you.
- Ah, of course.
- [Paul] So we both went quiet at that point, because we're thinking, "Well, "not sure governance is a framework," because a governance is a little more rigid than that. It's the boundaries or the barriers with which you're not allowed to move beyond.
- [Dave] Great, great.
- [Martin] So moving on top of, having talked about the guiding principles and governance and other key elements, literally right at the core of the ITIL service value system is this idea of what we call the service value chain. And the way ITIL 4 describes the service value chain is very much this idea that if we're gonna deliver and manage any product, any service, we need a set of often kind of interconnected, interrelated activities need to occur for us to successfully deliver any given product or service. And that's where we see the service value chain comes in. 'Cause it's through that set of connected activities, we'll do things like, you know, properly engage with the target consumers of the new service or an existing service. We'll do things like have the ability to properly design against the consumer's requirements, new iterations of service, do successful, you know, bring in new services, live transition, in ITIL 4 speak, and obviously be able to do within that the proper risk and proper control activity. Other fundamental activities that are part of the service value chain encompass things like better planning, better improvement activity, the ability obviously to then support and, okay, deliver and support against prescribed levels, the services that now we brought to the actual end consumer. But all the way through that set of service value chain activity areas, ITIL in ITIL 4 is very much allowing a high degree of flexibility. 'Cause how one organization creates and manages services can be very radically different from another organization, depending on their working practices. And therefore by the use of the service value chain, every organization will ultimately concoct its own specific organizational views of how to navigate the activity areas across the service value chain, ultimately in a way that is gonna co-create value to the end consumers. So here's the flexibility of the service value system very much kind of bearing fruit here. That was a key emphasis as part of, you know, how they've architected the new service value system operating model as part of ITIL 4.
- [Dave] So for the benefit of the listener, the difference between the service value system and the service value chain is that the service value system is kind of all of the things that need to take place to turn demand into value, whereas the service value chain is more about specific activities that organizations will engage with to create that value.
- [Martin] Yeah, and specifically, specific activities around how to either manage, you know, existing services, but also how to come up with new services. So the service value chain is very much focused on the actual products and services, I should say, itself. Whereas the service value system is the larger, you know, thinking around how we're going to enact service management successfully as a whole services organization.
- [Dave] Thank you, thank you, that's very helpful.
- [Martin] So Paul, do you want to talk about practices?
- [Paul] Yeah, just to pick up on what Martin was saying, is there is a separate podcast for the guiding principles and there's a separate podcast for the service value chain. So if you're wanting more detail and more clarity on that, please feel free to jump on one of those. We're also gonna talk here about practices. Now you've probably heard in your existing organization, people talk about process, people talk about processes. Some people talk about functions. If they've done service management before, they'll definitely talk about processes and functions. Well in ITIL 4 they've actually pulled all these together and said, hang on, we have process, we have processes, we have procedures, and we have functions. But actually, combined, actually these are just practices. So practices are just a set of organizational resources. So there are a whole raft of different practices, but these are, if you like, the activities, the building blocks for the activities that drive through that service value. So think about these as, you know, the practices, if you like, as the ingredients.
- [Dave] Can you give us just some quick examples of a few of those?
- [Paul] So there would be the service desk, there would be change management, there would be release management, there would be request management, there would be incident management and problem management. And some of the things that people are very, very familiar with, and some that people probably are less familiar with.
- [Martin] Yeah, for example, organizational change management is a new practice that's been folded into the latest ITIL 4 guidance. How do we bring people with us when we do service changes? So it's an expanding set of practices in the new ITIL 4 guidance, actually way more comprehensive than certainly has been built into existing previous versions of ITIL.
- [Dave] And are they prescriptive, so would you expect every organization to have every single practice?
- [Martin] Absolutely not. Again, it's the nature of the framework. Across the totality of practices, there'll be many that are obvious, like Paul mentioned, things like incident management, problem management, those are pretty much absolutes that most organizations have to perform with resources to a certain degree. But yeah, there'll be other areas of practice that aren't as relevant, given the size, the scope, the nature of every individual, unique organization. So again, you can pick and mix. You can, you know, take many of the ITIL practices but leave some of the ITIL practices to one side. That's the beauty of the framework nature of ITIL.
- [Paul] And particularly if you're using things like cloud services, it's some of the practices will be provided by your partners. And that, again, gives the flexibility of ITIL 4.
- [Dave] Fantastic. I believe there is still another part of the SVS we haven't touched on.
- [Martin] Yeah, there's one final element of the ITIL service value system that I mentioned at the start. This focus round continual improvement is the other element of the service value system. And really, I mean this links into so many things. But a lot of the focus of any successful services organization these days is this idea that across all layers of management and staff, this need to have a constancy of continual improvement. And within that, within the service value system, how we're going to almost lay down, not just culture around continual improvement, 'cause I'm sure that's there in a lot of organizations, but ITIL 4 in the service value system actually lays down some more practical guidance on what we call the continual improvement model, which is more of an actual, you know, model. Something that we can all look at and conform to by which we could go and steer any piece of product and also to improve it, or even how we improve how we actually manage the whole ITIL service value system itself. 'Cause the SVS, as we say, is subject to continual improvement, for example, governance, et cetera, needs to improve, not just the services that are being governed need to improve. And that's one of the good aspects of the ITIL SVS, is it keeps that constancy of momentum on the need to improve service, but ultimately always with an eye on that need to facilitate better co-creation of value to the end consumers.
- [Dave] Fantastic. Yeah, I kind of feel a bit lost for words.
- [Paul] Well, the ITIL SVIS is, it's a big deal. It's a really new, new thing. If you're new to ITIL, it's not new to you obviously, because it's all new to you. But if you're an existing ITIL follower or an ITIL certificate holder, then the service value system is a very new concept. But when you actually look at it, it will make complete sense to you. Because as we've already mentioned, as Martin's mentioned, the guiding principles, if you've done the ITIL version 2011 practitioner, that's where they were. Governance has been throughout ITIL from day one. We're talking about practices instead of processes and functions, but in essence very few of those have fundamentally changed in their deliverable, they've just changed in where they sit, for want of a better description. And then continual service improvement, that activity of continually improving, with obviously the output of being value.
- [Martin] And particularly, right at the heart of the service value system, we said, is the idea of the service value chain, and how those activity areas are interconnected, but they're not rigid. And that's where ITIL is very much kind of playing due credit, but working alongside of and within of other established working practices, for example things like Agile and Lean and DevOps. The whole nature of how we describe the service value chain element of the SVS is absolutely there to be able to encompass that flexibility of very often very well-established working practices in organizations. So therefore that's how we see the ITIL service value system is not a straight-jacket to other orgs who have already embraced different practices. They can still use the SVS as still a way of constantly improving how they're co-creating value around the nature of the products and services that they do, and therefore there's no conflict between ITIL 4 and other methodologies and other working practices, it's very much complementary.
- [Dave] It's about that flexibility.
- [Martin] Absolutely.
- [Dave] Well, I mean, I appreciate that obviously this service value system is quite complex, and if you don't have the diagram in front of you, maybe it's not that easy to understand. So we would definitely recommend having a listen to our podcasts on the guiding principles and also on the service value chain itself because that kind of sits at the heart of this whole value system, you know, with the focus ultimately of taking that demand and co-creating value, which is really at the heart of any organization, and no matter what you're doing, whether it's, you know, in an IT department, or if you're, you know, an owner of a business looking to become profitable.
- [Dave] Well, I think we'll probably wrap this one up there, guys. Thanks again for joining me, Martin, thanks for coming through, Paul, and I will hopefully get a chance to speak to you guys again soon.
- [Paul] Thank you.
- [Martin] Thank you.
About the Author
Martin is a professionally qualified and experienced IT Professional with over 25 years experience in the IT industry. He has held a number of senior roles and has experience of large scale IT Service Management implementation programmes both in public and private sectors. He has over 15 years experience working for QA as both a Senior principal lecturer/consultant and as Head of Service Management Product Development. Martin has delivered training to a wide variety of audiences, both UK and internationally, to consistently high levels of customer satisfaction.
His main role at QA is acting as a Head of Service Management Product Development to enable QA to deliver high quality, interactive training in the following areas:
- Delivering a wide range of public ITIL, SIAM and BRM courses
- Delivering onsite ITIL and SIAM courses
- Developing high quality QA authored Service Management courses and courseware across all delivery mechanisms including classroom, e-learning and virtual
- Working with Industry partners to develop new curricula and courses – Recent examples include ITIL Practitioner and the BCS EXIN SIAM Foundation qualifications