ITIL and service management go hand in hand. But it is important to understand that they are not the same and the terms cannot be used interchangeably – be it service management per se or IT service management (ITSM). An easy way to look at this is that while ITIL is a collection of service management best practices, not all service management is based on ITIL.

Service management is a set of processes, activities, and policies – that is, capabilities – that IT organizations use to establish, deliver, and manage day-to-day IT services (and, more recently, to manage services in other lines of business such as human resources (HR) as well). For IT departments, services and support activities need structure to be effective and repeatable. This is where ITIL comes into play. Because ITIL is a globally recognized framework of service management best practices, particularly applicable for ITSM. It is currently on version 4 – or ITIL 4 – and this provides guidance on everything from setting up your (IT) service desk to continuous improvement.

To help your organization, this blog looks at eight ways ITIL improves service management and ITSM in particular.

1. Focus on creating business value

The main focus in the latest version of ITIL is to provide value. Value to the business, value to end users and value to future customers. Value is really central to ITIL 4.

ITIL 4 is therefore about value creation and not just about providing technological services. As part of this, it has introduced the Service Value System (SVS) and Service Value Chain, looking at the various components involved in the service that will help co-create value for customers.

2. Build stronger relationships between IT and the rest of the business

Another area of ​​focus in ITIL 4 is the service relationship model to map the relationships between service providers and customers. Such service relationships are established between entities to create value together and include service provision, service consumption, and service relationship management.

In ITIL 4, the service relationship model is supported by relationship management practice. The goal is to establish and improve relationships between IT and its stakeholders by ensuring that:

Stakeholder needs are understood and reflected in new services

The relationship between IT and the rest of the business is positive, constructive and well-maintained

Escalations are handled through a mutually agreed upon process.

3. Provide guidance in stakeholder mapping

Identifying and understanding the key players in your business is an important step in any service management environment. These stakeholders can be process owners, managers, customers, end users, senior management and external suppliers.

By having a solid stakeholder management strategy, your IT organization can eliminate silos, create a more transparent work environment, and create stronger engagement between IT and the rest of the business.

4. Increased visibility of the IT service offering

I always think one of ITSM’s golden rules is “always make it easy for people to use your services”. ITIL helps make this possible through the concept of a service catalog.

A service catalog increases the visibility of services by listing what is available to a particular part of the business, it can act as a mission for IT by increasing the use of self-service, influencing end-user behavior with demand management and useful promote knowledge content. It can also guide end users in logging their own incidents and service requests.

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5. Better management of business risks

ITIL 4 has a specific risk management practice that aims to ensure that an organization recognizes and manages risks effectively.

Risk management ensures that decisions about risk are balanced in such a way that the potential benefits are worth more to the company than the costs required to address the risk. This is done by ensuring that the risks are:

Identified – that risks are identified and recorded in a risk register.

Assessed – that the probability, impact and proximity of risks are taken into account.

Handled – that appropriate responses to risks are taken, including mitigation (for example, adding a UPS system to a data center in the event of a power outage), disposal (for example, investing in high-availability environments) or acceptance (for example, if the likelihood is so low and the cost to the risk is prohibitively high, a decision can be made to accept the risk).

Once there is a risk register, it can be assigned to the service catalog so that risks can be further prioritized against live business services.

6. Improved business and technical change management

All changes are not made immediately. Technical implementations must be treated very differently than, for example, people change. Luckily, ITIL 4 has you covered. There are several ITIL 4 practices that manage the different types of change, including:

Organizational change management – the practice of ensuring that changes in an organization are implemented smoothly and successfully and that lasting benefits are achieved by managing the human aspects of the changes.

Enabling change – the practice of ensuring that risks are correctly assessed, approving changes to proceed, and managing the change schedule to maximize the number of successful service and product changes.

Release management – the practice of making new or changed services available for use.

Service Request Management – involves performing minor service actions that have been agreed to be a normal part of the service delivery. Examples of service requests include moving a PC for an end user, installing an application, or granting access to a network share.

7. Facilitate continuous improvement

Continuous Improvement is the ITIL 4 practice that aims to get different aspects of service management better over time by making feasible improvements and then responding to feedback from the business.

In ITIL 4, continuous improvement has delivered Agile concepts, advocating small bursts of improvement that are repeatable. Allow stability periods and then ask for and act on feedback. It’s an improvement loop, meaning the service is always improving.

8. ITIL has worldwide recognition and support

A huge benefit of ITIL in itself is the level of help and support that there is. In addition to the official ITIL content, help is also available through the global itSMF community, social media communities, blogs and webinars – the list of helpful ITIL-related guidelines is endless.

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