ITIL4 and the digital economy. A perfect team! (Part 2/3: Focus)
Dec 22, 2020
In my previous blogpost I investigated how ITIL evolved into a framework. Connecting your organizational resources was seen as a critical driver to be successful in the digital economy. I also told you about my mother not always being pleased when she found the living room yet again transformed into a huge glass marble playground, allowing me to create that ultimate track. What I realized after some failed attempts to create my ultimate glass marble track projects, was the fact that I needed to align my activities with the absence of my mother. That focus allowed me to build the best tracks ever.
The question now is; ‘how does ITIL4 promote focus?’ Well, focus guidance is provided on different levels. I call it the ‘multi-layered focus model’ (MLFM).
I found five distinct layers in the model, each serving a specific focus:
Service Value Chain (or SVC)
Just like in my previous blog, this article does not aim at explaining the ITIL concepts. I am happy to refer to the official books or the wealth of information you can find online, if you are interested.
Before we go further, some word of caution. If you focus without understanding ‘the bigger picture’, that connective tissue in the organization, chances are that your efforts to improve will be sub-optimal, or worse, just plainly fail. Check part 1 for reflections on your ‘list-of-all’. My rule: you introduce focus, because it will improve connection.
Now let's focus.
Governance Governance assures that your service efforts are linked with corporate interests in the most efficient way. It connects the corporate context into the operating model. To assure the translation is effective, a cascading model provides context and relevance from the board of directors to the workforce. That cascaded information flow facilitates a common organizational view on what really matters in every layer of the hierarchy.
Guiding Principles To make sure all stakeholders are involved the best possible way, you need a ‘code of conduct’. That common understanding of expected behaviour will make it easier to connect. The purpose of the guiding principles is to provide a context in which people can interact with a similar mind set.
Service Value Chain When you focus, people tend to lose overview. The SVC is an abstraction layer that allows taking a step back to get that overview of the operational activities, whenever you want, whatever the work. The seven SVC activities allow connecting any ongoing ideation activity, project, support activity…. It is an organizational operating model fundament, which allows visualizing interactions. Using my analogy, this corresponds to the living room…
Practices To make sure that the seven SVC activities are equipped with the right resources, 35 practices were identified. They bring focus on the operating model, assuring the best capability mix is involved to support the delivery of value. Furthermore, that mix might be reconfigured with any new supporting act. Using my analogy, this corresponds with the components used to build my glass marble race tracks both bought and custom built.
Side track: What happened to our beloved processes? Well, in this digital economy, they have become too rigid. I even dare to use the word ‘prescriptive’. So are they now obsolete? Not really, they are still incorporated as workflows in the practices, providing guidance how all involved resources are best organized for the occasion.
You can compare processes with a predefined glass marble racetrack, which you can set up based on the provided instructions. Once built, you can play with it, seeing the marbles taking the same route, again, and again, and again. That inflexibility does take the fun factor out of the equation rather quickly. If you compare it with practices, you can reuse that track and add pieces and experiment to create the track of the day.
This is the ultimate focus in the model, and ITIL4 for that matter. Value streams visualize what path is used in delivering a service experience, which is satisfactory for all stakeholders. Not only the customers asking for and receiving service, but also employees and partners involved in creating the experience. In a value stream, all relevant resources come together with a common purpose. Moreover, a value stream can only exist in its best form, if all previous layers of the model are involved.
Taking it back to my childhood playing, this is how the glass marbles went over the racetracks without missing a curve on the way down.
So where does that leave the Service Value System?
Bringing it all together: Service Value System (SVS) The SVS connects all focus areas and visualizes that service management is everybody’s business. This is the cornerstone for any organization to be able to invent, create and support efficiently in the digital economy. This connected involvement is a fundament allowing everyone within his or her mandate to act and decide accordingly in providing the ultimate focus target: VALUE.
So what about Continuous Improvement? That will be part of my last article, in which we will discuss ‘velocity’. Stay tuned!
CTG Belgium Principal ITSM Consultant, Eddy Peters, is a Service Management expert with plus 25 years experience in various IT positions, from support functions to consultancy and from commercial support to managerial positions.