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Understanding ITIL 4 Practices

As an IT service manager, you love solving problems and helping your people improve business processes. You thrive on those unexpected moments where your experience adds value, whether providing advice to someone in-house or collaborating with a customer. However, you need to have efficient processes and practices in place. Otherwise, you’re never going to be able to do the things you love the most.

 

When you understand the ITIL 4 practices, you can find ways to implement and use them to provide better services.

What is ITIL 4?

The Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) version 4 is a set of best practices for IT service management (ITSM) published by Axelos in 2019. To meet modern IT organizations’ needs, ITIL 4 maintained many practices from ITIL v3 but changed the approach to create a strategy focused on integrating business and technology outcomes.

 

Designed as a practical framework, ITIL 4 focuses on three primary objectives:

  • Expectations: Understanding and delivering on business and customer expectations
  • Value: Defining measurements and reporting performance against expectations
  • Relationships: Creating effective relationships with customers and users while using metrics that support decision-making

 

To meet these objectives, ITIL 4 refocused its framework to provide sustainable practices for managing work across technical and non-technical teams.

What are the three categories of ITIL 4 practices

ITIL 4 created three categories of practices that incorporate various processes outlined in the previous versions. More than simply a name change, the focus on practices gives organizations the flexibility needed to respond to their unique business needs. While processes were prescriptive, practices give you an opportunity to create a maturity model approach by allowing you to group processes and capabilities together, iterating as you go.

General Management Practices

The fourteen General Management Practices focus on business domains and adapt them to service management:

  1. Architecture management: address the different, interrelated business, service, information systems, technology, and environmental architectures that enable the organization to achieve its objectives
  2. Continual improvement: improving products, services, practices, and management of these to respond to changing business needs
  3. Information security management: protecting information that the company needs to conduct business
  4. Knowledge management: maintaining and improving people’s ability to effectively and conveniently use information and knowledge
  5. Measuring and reporting: Collecting and assessing relevant data to support good decision making
  6. Organizational change management: ensuring smooth and successful implementations of organizational changes across people, technologies, processes, structures, and services
  7. Portfolio management: Ensuring the right mix of programs, projects, products, and services based on strategic decision-making to remain within budgetary and resource constraints
  8. Project management: Ensuring the successful and timely delivery of all projects
  9. Relationship management: Establishing and nurturing relationships to create value and partnerships across all stakeholders, including customers and providers
  10. Risk management: Understanding and effectively handling risks by identifying, evaluating, and prioritizing them
  11. Service financial management: Effectively using financial resources and investments to support service management plans and strategies
  12. Strategy management: Formulating goal, adopting courses of action, and allocating resources to achieve goals
  13. Supplier management: Managing suppliers and their performance to support seamless provisioning of products and services
  14. Workforce and talent management: Placing the right people in the right role to support business objectives by ensuring they have the appropriate skills and knowledge

Service Management Practices

The seventeen Service Management Practices, developed in service management and ITSM,  focus on managing and providing services and products:

  1. Availability management: Maintaining service availability for customers and users  according to agreed levels
  2. Business analysis: Analyzing a business or business element, defining associated needs, and recommending solutions that solve the problem
  3. Capacity and performance management: Cost-effectively providing services to achieve agreed and expected performance meeting current and future demand
  4. Change enablement: Assessing, authorizing, and managing risks to maximize the number of successful service and product changes
  5. Incident management: Restoring normal service operation as fast as possible to minimize an incident’s negative impact
  6. IT asset management: Planning and managing the IT asset life cycle to maximize value, control costs, support IT asset decision-making, and meet regulatory and contractual requirements
  7. Monitoring and event management: Systematically observing, recording, and reporting all service service components and selected events that lead to change of state
  8. Problem management: Reducing incident likelihood and impact by identifying actual and potential causes
  9. Release management: Making new and changed services and features available for use
  10. Service catalog management: Providing the relevant audience with a single source of consistent service and service offering information
  11. Service configuration management: Implementing and maintaining accurate, reliable, available source of service configuration information and the configuration items (CI) supporting them, including CI configurations and relationships between them
  12. Service continuity management: Maintaining service availability and performance at sufficient levels when a disaster occurs
  13. Service design: Designing products and services fit for purpose and use that can be delivered by the organization and its ecosystem
  14. Service desk: Establishing and maintaining an entry point and single point of contact to capture user demand for incident resolution and service requests
  15. Service level management: Setting clear business-based service level targets against which the organization can asses, monitor, and manage service delivery
  16. Service request management: Handling all pre-defined, user-initiated service requests to support the agreed service quality while providing an effective, user-friendly experience
  17. Service validation: Ensuring new or changed products and service meet defined requirements

Technical Management Practices

The three Technical Management Practices, adapted from technology management, focus on ensuring successful deployment and maintenance of products and services:

  1. Deployment management: Moving new or changed hardware, software, documentation, processes, or components to live environments
  2. Infrastructure and platform management: Overseeing the physical and virtual technology resources that the organization uses
  3. Software development and management: Ensuring that applications meet internal and external stakeholder functionality, reliability, maintainability, compliance, and auditability needs

What are the 4 ITIL dimensions

Also called the “Four P’s of Service Design,” ITIL’s four dimensions focus on people, processes, products, and partners. With ITIL 4, these dimensions which previously applied to the service lifecycle’s Design Phase now expand across the entire value chain.

Organization and People

Looking at an ITSM department’s organizational structure, this dimension focuses on your staff’s skills and competencies. Your organization’s culture should:

  • Provide effective structure and management
  • Define, communicate, and govern systems of authority
  • Implement consistent communication
  • Maintain a service-based culture to achieve objectives
  • Ensure staff have the skills needed to complete their job functions
  • Create and maintain a leadership that motivates staff and peers based on shared values
  • Promote trust and transparency
  • Identify and dismantle silos

Value Streams and Processes

Value streams are the steps used to create and deliver products and services, including processes, resources, capabilities, and tools. When determining how to deliver value, you need to define, document, and communicate the activities, workflows, controls, and procedures that enable collaboration.

As part of this, you should focus on:

  • Defining activities
  • Explaining how the activities are organized
  • Metrics for determining value

Partners and Suppliers

Managing third-party supply chain risk means that you need to engage in due diligence and monitoring. Relationships and contracts for third-party services and products should consider:

  • Design
  • Development
  • Deployment
  • Delivery and support

 

Additionally, this dimension incorporates assigning responsibilities within contracts to establish processes.

Information and Technology

When choosing technologies for delivering services and products, you should consider data and information protections, including relationships between components.

Complicated by security and regulatory compliance requirements, this dimension aligns business requirements and technology operations by assessing and monitoring:

  • Availability
  • Reliability
  • Accessibility
  • Timeliness
  • Accuracy
  • Relevance

 

Putting ITIL 4 into Practice with Centralized Log Management

Centralized log management enables you to gain the observability needed to implement ITIL 4 practices. As you strive to integrate the four ITIL 4 dimensions, you need to know what’s going on in your environment so that you can more effectively and efficiently service your end users. You also need to establish and incorporate streamlined processes into your activities so that you can achieve the business and technology goals outlined in the practices.

Create Better Outcomes

At their core, ITIL 4’s practices seek to achieve the framework’s primary objectives around aligning business objectives with technical requirements.

Centralized log management allows you to understand interconnections between system components, giving you a way to track issues and prioritize activities. Further, since you can integrate centralized log management, ticketing, and communications services, you can gain visibility into how well your current processes work and find ways to continuously improve them for better customer service.

For example, reporting capabilities mean that you can answer questions like how often end users:

  • Experience service interruption
  • Have UI/UX issues
  • Find that current services fail to meet their needs

 

Then, you can tie these metrics and findings to things like:

  • Workforce skills and knowledge
  • Ability to deliver projects on time
  • Change management capabilities

 

For example, if your IT service team consistently investigates service outages and the time it takes to restore service only barely stays within your agreed upon timeframe, then you need to implement both technical and staffing solutions to improve your products and services.

Emphasize Culture and Practices

ITIL 4 focuses on relationships within ITSM as well as across internal and external stakeholders. Ultimately, it’s really about people and their ability to collaborate.

You can use centralized log management for cross-organizational collaboration. For example, you can create shared dashboards that your IT service team and DevOps team can use to understand issues and enhance products or services. Further, you can use these dashboards to generate business-level reports that help management make decisions about future offerings.

Additionally, centralized log management is a flexible solution that enables you to create adaptable practices supporting ITIL 4’s continuous improvement objectives. For example, you can implement a new monitoring dashboard so that you can get proactive detections and alerts. This allows you to solve the problem before end users report it and gives you a way to determine whether changes to the product eliminate the issue, ultimately supporting both continuous improvement and change management.

By creating a culture of cross-functional collaboration using centralized log management, you build processes that align team values with ITIL 4’s guiding principles.

Enhance Revenue

ITIL 4 practices streamline processes, increasing productivity. As you build out an ITSM organization around the practices, you need the technologies that enable everything from service delivery to continual improvement.

Centralized log management reduces the number of tools needed by giving you a single source of operational, service, and security information. By reducing tool proliferation chaos, you reduce the overarching costs associated with:

  • Data duplication
  • Data silos
  • Storage
  • Operational costs

 

By reducing the number of tools, you increase team productivity. These two cost reductions ultimately enhance customer service outcomes, increasing brand loyalty and generating new customers.

 

Graylog Operations: Aligning ITSM to ITIL 4 Practices

Whether you choose to be ITIL 4 certified or not, you can implement many practices into your ITSM organization. Graylog Operations gives you what you need to manage the day-to-day and unexpected issues that arise as your company grows and changes.

 

Using the increased visibility that Graylog Operations provides, you can create shared dashboards for more effective collaboration. Additionally, you can take proactive steps that improve key metrics like mean time to detect (MTTD) and mean time to respond (MTTR), driving better service outcomes. With our lightning fast search capabilities and intuitive UI, you enable all team members, regardless of their current skills and competencies, so that they can create value and effective relationships.

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