Written by Luis Gorgona
on August 20, 2020

Dear Reader:

Thanks for joining us on this trip across the exciting subject of Governance, Risk, and Compliance. As promised last week, we will start speaking about ITIL® in this week’s post.

Let’s start by solving the mystery of ITIL®’s Name: ITIL® stands for “Information Technology Infrastructure Library,” however, according to Phil Hearsum, member of the ITIL® Update Architect Team, the term “Library” was used in 1980, and only for British Government requirements.1 From 1980 ITIL emerged as one of the frameworks for IT service delivery until ITIL®v3, and more recently, has expanded its scope to cover service delivery in general.

So, what is and what’s not ITIL®?

It is a series of documents that helps and guides organizations to create value to organizations based on services given in value, structure and processes intended to support business objectives. It provides guidelines on service and how to improve services in a timely and efficient manner. ITIL® is not a compliance standard that companies can look to certify. Also is not a prescriptive recipe of all you need for delivering a service. This is a guideline based on experience and is also a living document that will change when the circumstances or the environment changes.

As a former ITIL® Foundation Certificate, I loved the original way to describe the IT service delivery life cycle:

  • Service Strategy: The beginning of the journey. In this stage, the business case and the service goal are shaped, along with the requirements and service management principles.
  • Service Design: This stage is where the architecture is defined, taking into consideration factors like policies, documentation, and maintenance of those documents.
  • Service Transition: This stage sets the table for transforming the service from the drawing table to operation.
  • Service Operation: This stage supports the service once live and takes charge of monitoring and controlling the service upon operation.
  • Continual Service Improvement: This stage considers all the results from precedent stages and looks to create more value by efficiency, cost reduction, or modifications to the service to fulfill any gap detected until retirement.

Then ITIL®V4 came on stage and changed the approach from IT Service Delivery to a “just and simple” Service Delivery. I must admit that was a bit shocking to me since one of my principles always recommended: “If your model works, leave it as is!”.

One of the common grounds between ITIL®V3 and ITIL®V4 is about the 4 dimensions of service management, that V4 persisted and expanded as explained below.

People Organizations and People
Products Information and Technology
Partners Partners and Suppliers
Processes Value Streams and Processes


Also, ITIL®V4 transformed the (old and faithful) Service Lifecycle into a new Service Value Chain, as stated below:

  • Plan: This activity ensures that the vision is understood, and improvement direction is oriented to the four dimensions.
  • Engage: This activity provides an understanding of requirements and transforms them into design requirements for the upcoming events.
  • Design and Transition: This activity ensures that the service will meet stakeholders' expectations with the expected cost and quality.
  • Obtain/ Build: This activity ensures that the service is available when needed and that it meets the Service level agreed.
  • Deliver and Support: This activity delivers and operates the service. This is where “the metal meets the meat”. It is where the service customer will find the value and create value with the service.

The continual improvement activity is now an all-across service activity, where improvement is taken into consideration in every step where the value-chain creation activities are carried out. We can compare this with the Japanese philosophy of Kaizen, the real continuous improvement, where all four dimensions are involved and all work in the same direction.

Also, the new model defines a new arrangement of management practices designed for achieving organizational objectives:

  • General Management Practices: Adopted and adapted to align with business management objectives.
  • Service Management Practices: Practices developed by the industry in IT Service Management.
  • Technical Management Practices: Adapted from technology management domains and expanded into a more general service delivery focus.

In our next post, we will be talking about COBIT® and how the IT services can be governed upon this framework. Please do not forget to give us your opinion about this article. See you next week!



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