Dec 22 2020

How to Create an ITIL 4 Framework for Government

Find out everything you need to know about the latest ITIL framework and what it means for IT service management.

The shift in government over the past half-decade to embrace IT service management (ITSM) rests on a more foundational layer: ITIL, originally an acronym for Information Technology Infrastructure Library.

ITIL represents the framework that contains ITSM best practices. If ITSM represents a car that can deliver services and value for IT teams in government and beyond, ITIL is the car’s manual, detailing the best practices for how to operate the vehicle.

ITIL is owned by Axelos, a company that is “responsible for developing, enhancing and promoting a number of best practice frameworks and methodologies used globally by professionals working primarily in IT service management, project, programme and portfolio management and cyber resilience,” as the company states.

In 2019, the ITIL framework was updated to the latest version, ITIL 4. As ITSM provider BMC notes in a blog post, ITIL 4 “provides a digital operating model that enables organizations to co-create effective value from their IT-supported products and services.”

ITSM can encompass service or help desks, IT asset management tools, incident management and change and release management. ITSM gives IT staffers a greater level of insight into their environments so that they can more efficiently address IT issues that crop up. However, ITSM operates within the ITIL framework.

What Is ITIL 4?

The ITIL framework represents “a voluntary set of best practices for organizations to follow to ensure that they’re aligning their IT services with the needs of the business,” Mary Bouska, the head of managed services for service operations at CDW, and Erin Hollingshad, manager of service transition with CDW, write in a blog post. “It’s both nonprescriptive and nonproprietary.”

As ServiceNow, a key player in the ITSM market, notes on its website, ITIL “contains proven methodologies for how organizations can optimize their ITSM for growth and change. ITIL is about adopting and adapting, not the blanket application of one fixed set of activities.” ServiceNow adds that “ITIL is not the end or desired outcome, but rather the means to an end.”

ITIL 4 was the first major update of the framework since 2007, according to Bouska and Hollingshad, and it “largely emphasizes the same values and priorities as previous versions.”

ITIL 4 vs. ITIL 3: What’s the Difference?

However, there are some notable differences. “ITIL 4 was designed to keep up with recent trends in software development and IT operations,” Bouska and Hollingshad write. “Because of this, it’s important for IT leaders to familiarize themselves with this new version, and to consider any changes they might want to make in their own operations to keep pace with industry best practices.”

ITIL 4 also emphasizes different elements of IT security and management, according to Bouska and Hollingshad. Notably, they write, ITIL 4 “emphasizes identity and access management (IAM) solutions and practices as essential parts of cybersecurity strategies — reflecting the current reality of what organizations need to do to keep their systems and data safe from cybercriminals.”

Additionally, they write, ITIL 4 “has a greater focus on measuring and reporting service-level objectives than ITIL 3 did,” including metrics such as “uptime, the percentage of tickets closed within a certain time frame and other measurable outcomes provided by an IT service management division or partner.”

ITIL 4 also focuses on “management techniques and capabilities (rather than simply minimizing risk from changes to the operating environment),” Bouska and Hollingshad write.

Earlier versions of ITIL also talked about ITSM organizations as those that delivered value to their clients. ITIL 4 focuses on “value co-creation,” Bouska and Hollingshad write, noting that while this is a small shift, it is significant because it “acknowledges that IT service management organizations work in close collaboration with their clients.”

LEARN MORE: How are federal agencies using ITSM?

How to Create an ITIL 4 Framework

For agencies that are adopting ITIL 4, there are some basics that need to be addressed and then a wealth of details to be found in the 122-page ITIL Foundation, ITIL 4 Edition document produced by Axelos.

“With its systematic approach to ITSM, the ITIL 4 offers enterprises a more stable IT environment, enhanced customer support, reduced expenses, and better awareness of risks,” ServiceNow says on its website. “ITIL 4 has methodologies that are focused on the automation of processes, the improvement of collaboration and communication across the whole organization, and the integration and expansion of service management beyond IT (like HR, finance, customer support, etc.).”

As a ServiceNow notes in an e-book on ITIL 4, the ITIL Foundation document defines a management practice as “a set of organizational resources designed for performing work or accomplishing an objective.”

The practices build on “general management practices [that] have been adopted and adapted for service management from general business management domains,” according to ServiceNow, as well as “service management practices have been developed in service management and ITSM industries.”

There are actually 34 different ITIL 4 management practices, including information security management, knowledge management, risk management, IT asset management, change control, service desk and infrastructure and platform management.

Another foundational element of ITIL 4 management practices are “technical management practices [that] have been adapted from technology management domains for service management purposes by expanding or shifting their focus from technology solutions to IT services,” ServiceNow says.

4 Dimensions of an ITIL 4 Framework

As BMC notes, another key aspect of the ITIL 4 framework are the “four dimensions,” which “describes a balanced focus to the ITIL [service value system] through a holistic and effective approach.”

The four dimensions, as BMC notes, are organizations and people, information and technology, partners and suppliers, and value streams and processes.

“These components are a significant evolution of ITIL from previous iterations,” BMC notes “From a specific focus on delivering services to the broader perspective of the value created by the products and services delivered to the customer. ITIL 4 is designed to provide a seamless transition from an organization’s existing investment in ITIL and its current way of working, to a faster, more flexible, more agile approach.”

MORE FROM FEDTECH: How can a ServiceNow approach help your agency?

Different ITIL Certifications

There are four main ITIL certifications that IT professionals should consider if they are going to be working on ITSM. “Recognized as vendor neutral, ITIL certifications provide a modular approach to the ITIL framework itself, made up of a series of qualifications that are focused on different aspects of ITIL best practice to various degrees of depth and detail,” BMC notes in a blog post.

  • ITIL Foundation: The most basic ITIL certification is the Foundation, and it covers the core concepts and principles of ITIL 4, as CIO notes. “As an entry-level certification, it’s designed to teach newcomers the basics of ITIL 4 and to certify that even seasoned pros have the foundational knowledge to move onto more advance certifications,” the publication notes.
  • ITIL 4 Managing Professional: According to BMC, the next certification up is composed of four different modules around delivering tech-enabled services, supporting IT-enabled products and services, increasing stakeholder satisfaction, and introducing agile technologies such as cloud and automation. BMC says it “provides practical and technical knowledge about how to run successful IT-enabled services, teams, and workflows,” and “covers the core service management activities and focuses on all types of engagement interaction between a service provider and their customers, users, suppliers, and partners.”
  • ITIL 4 Strategic Leader: The Strategic Leader certification is “for all digitally enabled services in the organization, not just IT operations,” according to CIO, and it “focuses on how IT influences and informs business strategy.” To get this certification, users need to complete the ITIL Strategist: Direct, Plan & Improve module and the ITIL Leader: Digital & IT Strategy module.
  • ITIL Master: Getting the Managing Professional and Strategic Leader certifications qualifies someone for the ITIL Master certification, CIO notes, and users need “at least five years’ experience working in IT service management in a leadership, management or higher management advisory level.”

“To achieve the ITIL Master certification, the candidate must be able to explain and justify how they have personally selected and applied a range of knowledge, principles, methods, and techniques from the ITIL Framework and supporting management techniques to achieve desired business outcomes in one or more practical assignments,” BMC says.

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