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The New and Improved ITIL 4!

Updated: Aug 26, 2019

Recently my good friend, Paul Wilkinson, of GamingWorks, posted on LinkedIn: “I am curious to hear initial feedback on ITIL4. what is good? what is still needed? who has started adopting and applying the practices? who has translated guiding principles into 'behaviors'?”

This response to his query is perhaps a bit longer than he may have expected, but here goes.


First, I’ve always been one of ITIL’s biggest fans… but also, perhaps, one of its more outspoken critics;


This sort “love/hate” relationship continues with ITIL 4.

Over the years there have been several releases of a “new and improved” ITIL. Frequently, when a consumer products uses the term “new and improved”, it translates to little more than repackaging than a complete product reformulation.


In the case of ITIL 4, it’s a bit of both.


While the product formulation itself has been significantly modified, there is some degree of “repackaging”.


An example of the latter is “ITIL terminology”. Most of the terms which have been around for decades stay pretty much unchanged. An incident is still “an unplanned interruption to a service or reduction in the quality of a service”, although one might notice that “IT” no longer precedes the word “service” in most cases.


Another repackaging is the ingredient of “ITIL Principles”. Introduced via the addition of ITIL Practitioner guidance, these were generally viewed as a good addition to the product. And, they are still good, perhaps even better being now in a slightly “condensed” form.


However, as good as this ingredient may be, people weren’t exactly clamoring for ITIL principles when ITIL Practitioner started to be offered. I diligently received my ITIL Practitioner Cert and ready and added it to my repertoire, willing and able to teach it. But never did. I’ve since wondered exactly how many time that course really was presented since its introduction.


Time will tell if the popularity of the ITIL Principles will change now that they’re an integral part of ITIL 4.


Part of this “new and improved” ITIL is the powerful ingredient called Continual Improvement (formerly Continual Service Improvement). This important ingredient has been part of the ITIL formulation for a long while, but a greater quantity has been mixed into the ITIL 4 product, which is a good thing.


There are several familiar ingredients within ITIL 4. Let’s explore some of the new ones. are

The substitution of the ingredient called “practice” for the previous predominant ITIL ingredient of “process” is generally perceived as a good move since some of what were called “processes” in ITIL V3 weren’t really processes at all and simply didn’t fit the ITIL definition of process.


BRM, for example, may always have been viewed more of as a practice than a process, as well as Service Level Management. One or more defined processes could and should be followed as part of these practices, such as within the Problem management practice where it certainly makes sense.


So, yes, the reformulation of ITIL, does go well beyond repackaging. There are new terms and substantially modified terms. The ITIL formulation has also substantially been altered with the addition of several new ingredients, including “The ITIL Service Value System”, “Service Value Chain” and associated “Value Streams”. There is also a new component called The Four Dimensions of Service Management.”

So… first impressions.


Like any “new and improved” product, those who will have the most glowing things to say about ITIL 4 are going to be those people who helped develop it. In other words, those who have the most “skin in the game”. That said, Axelos, PeopleCert, the ITIL 4 architects and authors are, of course, leading the charge. Close behind will be the team of reviewers and those who provided any iota of input (Axelos was clever enough to engage a good number of folks for their “input”).


We’re also already hearing positive things from ITIL instructors and consultants.

Being certified in ITIL 4 and an accredited instructor myself, it’s unlikely I’d turn down the opportunity to teach an ITIL 4 course and I’m happy to report a few ITIL 4 courses are on my schedule.


But I’d equally welcome the opportunity to teach ANY ITIL V3 classes. I don’t think I’m alone in that.


Of course, it is the actual “consumers” of ITIL 4 who have yet to be heard from in any significant numbers. The aforementioned “regular suspects” can make all the claims they want about the value of ITIL 4, but they aren’t the final judge. After enduring the inevitable hype cycle, It will be those organizations which choose learn to apply the guidance and then get the results they’re looking for who will be the final judge of ITIL 4’s ultimate value.


Before they can do that, they’ll have to invest in learning more about. And there’s the rub.

We’ve all experienced purchasing something touted as “new and improved” only to find out the product was merely repackaged, costs more than it did before, or simply doesn’t work as well as the “old” product.


As far as ITIL 4, many companies may justifiably feel there is a bit of “bait and switch” taking place. “Wait a minute”, they might say, “We’ve invested no insignificant amount of time and money in this ITIL thing over the years! What’s going on here?”


Maybe they’ve received a great deal of value from those past investments, maybe not. Now there’s a bit of uncertainly about what, exactly, they should be doing with this “new and improved” ITIL 4 thing. And whether they’ve wasted money on something which wasn’t “future proof”.


They have more questions. Is “ITIL V3” now obsolete? Is it now irrelevant? Should we abandon our ITIL v3 projects and efforts and swap over to ITIL 4?


It is human nature that when people are confused, they tend to do nothing. Maybe it’s only my perspective, but there does seem to be a lot of companies doing just that. Nothing.

It was once observed that “software is improved to the point where it becomes unusable”. When that happens, people find alternatives.


Although ITIL isn’t software, has ITIL been “improved” to the point where it has also become “unusable”.


Granted, there is currently a lot of curiosity about ITIL 4, but curiosity will only go so far.

I’m the first to admit that it took me some time for ITIL V3 to grow on me, so perhaps that will also be the case with ITIL 4.


I truly hope I so.

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