Why ITIL is all about the Four P’s

Tuuli Bell - 1st April 2014

Recent customer conversations have inspired me to discuss ITIL (IT Infrastructure Library), the main framework of ITSM. For those who are new to ITIL; it is a best practice, based on years' experience and advice from the industry leaders. It has established a “Four P's” approach to ITSM: People, Process, Products and Partners; which I will talk about in this post.

Recently I was leading a workshop which changed from a purely technical requirement capture session into a discussion about processes; people's (perceived) behaviour within the processes; followed by sharing thoughts and ideas about process enhancement requirements. Only after this very valuable discussion could we proceed to the technology, which ended up being the easy bit — as is often the case.

On another occasion, while I was presenting a product demo, instead of going straight to the technical detail, I took a moment to gauge the current state of the customer's processes — this steered the discussion towards process definition and its importance over a product.

ITIL rightly suggest that all four P's are essential. A line of code (Product) gives a known output with a known input. People add an unknown component to the Process; the output can be made more predictable with workshops and an aligned User  Adoption program, enabled by Partners and supported by the right technology.

Even the most complex technologies are often simpler than the human mind; as in the previous examples. A computer program runs as reliably as it has been programmed to run, and the output is predictable with known inputs. However, people with different learning and personality types tackle problems differently, resulting in unpredictable process outputs. Ideally, an ITSM system or a workflow should be designed for and with the end users, bringing the four P's together.

8 Reasons Why You Should Adopt ITIL

One of the first questions on any subject is ‘why’ rather than ‘what’. With this in mind I collated my list of why you should adopt ITIL

  1. 1. ITIL helps you succeed.
    • In ITIL’s own terminology, it delivers value to you, the business, and functions of the business. Value is a broad term but concise in defining an indisputably positive outcome.
  2. ITIL makes you think ‘business’.
    • ITIL bridges the gap between IT and the Business. To put it simply, Business and its IT function have a “different view of the world” as shown in the figure below. This difference in perception can create unwanted tension. ITIL bridges the gap by bringing the Business closer to IT and vice versa through defining and delivering value to each stakeholder.

Figure 1: The Business and its IT function have a “different view of the world”. This perception of the other can create tension in the relationship. ITIL bridges the gap by bringing the Business closer to IT and vice versa through defining and delivering value to each stakeholder.
  1. You can review your current state, set goals and action
    • Continual Service Improvement is one of the key elements of ITIL. It not only lets you take a step back and develop the framework and adoption; but also gives you a means of viewing the business from a different angle. Listen to your colleagues, maybe run a survey, and suddenly you might be doing knowledge management, too!
  2. You decide
    • ITIL is a guide only, it is there for you to refer to and help you. Ultimately it is up to you how, why and which aspects of ITIL you adopt.
  3. ITIL can integrate
    • Other frameworks such as Six Sigma, Cobit, and SIAM link up to flexible ITIL.
  4. You get support and resources
    • ITIL is widely accepted and adapted, and has a strong support network. You will have plenty of resources from KPI libraries and Process maps to user forums, professional institutions and partner support channels.
  5. Your imagination is your limit
    • ITIL can be adapted outside of IT, with examples from CERN to HR.
  6. You can influence the future of ITIL
    • ITIL is a community-driven framework, and if you have found improves in the use or adoption of it, share it with the community. AXELOS (who acquired ITIL and other frameworks in 2013) are keen to listen to other practitioners in the field.

So How Has The Acquisition by AXELOS Helped?

The current mantra of AXELOS is that ITIL is now free from government constrains which can lead to three major improvements:

  1. Thinking global and local
    • ITIL has roots in the UK but since its conception has established as a globally renowned framework. There are future plans to better address cultural and linguistic differences around the world to create a more global ITIL framework.
  2. Community-driven
    • As part of the refurbished ITIL programme, any changes to the core framework would be driven and supported by an experienced ITSM community.
  3. Finding the focus of ITIL
    • ITIL is, and will remain, the main framework of ITSM; but it is hard to deny the ITSM boundary is changing. We have all seen the recent emergence of ESM (Enterprise Service Management) – Service Management for the entire enterprise, not just IT.