Principles of Service Management

Principles of Service Management

This post is about the principles behind ITILv3 which I had distilled from the core material in 2007. Since my attempt the idea to add an overview of the underlying principles behind ITIL Service Management has been added to the ITIL Practitioner book. With the update to ITIL 4 there are 7 guiding principles to the application of ITIL described. In a blog series on these guiding principles I attempt to discuss what these principles are all about and if they present enough guidance.

In the time of the ITIL update to version 3 I was involved with updating the ITIL training materials at Getronics PinkRoccade (former PinkElephant). One of the discussions we had was about the underlying principles of ITIL. These principles were not made very explicit in the books; their existence were mostly only mentioned in the introductions. I did a search through all the books and distilled some more implicit principles into a slide that we started using in the introduction in all the different ITIL courses at that time.

Recently, with all the discussions about the differences and similarities between ITIL, DevOps, SIAM, etc., I was wondering if these principles were still relevant. In his guest blog on the ITSM Review. ‘Why is this content at the end of the conference? This should be a Keynote topic!’ – CEO” Paul Wilkinson refers to his guiding principles on Service Management:

These principles refer directly to Attitude and Behavior of the IT workers delivering services and value to the business. The principles we found so many years ago refer to the organization of IT delivering the services as well and I feel they complement Paul’s principles as well as adding another perspective.

Agency principle

Service providers are made accountable to deliver services (value and business outcome) and are enabled to take responsibility for the costs and risks. A contract can be made to specify the value (price) against the costs and risks within the boundaries of laws and regulations.

Often IT departments are not enabled to truly take the responsibility for the services they provide. They have no authority over their budget and their spending, they can not negotiate contracts with suppliers and they have no possibilities to hire the staff they need. The first step therefore to make IT departments (managers/directors) accountable is to enable them to take responsibility.

Balance Principle

It is a common thread in IT service delivery that IT engineers tend to look at the product and the business look at its use. “How does it work?” against “What can you do with it?”. Sometimes the IT view tends to be too strong and the focus is on technology for technology’s sake. On other occasions the business view tend to ask for impossible and impractical technical solutions. In order to deliver the optimal services there should be a balance between the Internal IT view versus the external Business View

Service Measurement principle

There is a strong emphasis on metrics and performance indicators in service management.  There is a need to show to the business that IT services deliver value as promised by the IT organization. This need leads to a continual monitoring and measuring of service delivery and the underlying processes. To make use of these data a service management system  should be in place.

System Principle

There are many definitions for a system (unfortunately) and in this case a system is an holistic and integrated function to deliver services. A system contains people, processes (activities), tools and instruments, relations, contracts and other concepts (4P’s) to perform (5th P) and deliver value to the business.

IT Service Lifecycle Principle

Service delivery is a continuous process of design, implement, operate and improve. Continual Service Improvement is not a separate process or activity but a core element of managing the service provider as a whole. This enables an iterative and incremental approach to service improvements in line with DevOps and Agile IT.

Knowledge Management Principle

This is in practice on of the most fundamental and difficult principles of service management: to make sure that the right information and knowledge is provided to the right people on the right time. This asks for an organization that keeps on sharing and learning, It asks for feedback from the users and the business. For people that listen with empathy, reflection and patience. For systems that enable to share information as well as keep the amount of information manageable.

This blog was first appeared on ITStrategizer website on February 23, 2016.

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