Nine Guiding Principles for the ITIL Practitioner

21 Apr 2016

A service-oriented approach to IT is not something that can simply be ‘installed’ or ‘switched on’ but is instead a journey. At some point during this journey there must be a cultural shift of focus from technology to services. In other words, from what the technology is, to the outcomes that technology enables for the customer.

In the recently published ITIL Practitioner Guidance (from Axelos) a set of nine ’guiding principles’ aimed at guiding organisations as a service management approach is adopted and followed.

The nine principles are:
Focus on Value
Let us be absolutely clear: the customer is the sole arbiter of value and any warranty and utility generated. Every endeavour of the provider of the service must reflect this and map to the required outcomes of the customer. Putting the customer front and centre and focussing on value is a fundamental principle of IT Service Management. It is all about value.

Design for Experience
This addresses the end-to-end experience that the customer (and user) has during any interaction with the service provider. There are two sides to this. The first is objective and measureable, for example, “Was the product delivered on time and at the agreed cost?”. The second is more subjective, for example, “How did the customer feel about the process of ordering the product?”. Customer experience must be actively managed.  Have good feedback loops.

Start Where You Are
Scottish post-punk band Orange Juice declared “Rip it up and start again” but starting from scratch, while alluring, is rarely the best course of action. Look at what you have, what currently exists, and assess clearly and objectively what you can keep. Look at what is successful and examine ways in which that can be expanded towards service management goals.

Work Holistically
ITSM coordinates and manages the four Ps (People, Processes, Products and Partners). No ‘P’ is an island. A change to one of these will impact on another. Obviously this includes the third-party providers that you engage with. We are all on this journey.

Progress Iteratively
This is an important message to come out of Agile methodologies like SCRUM; the idea of making small manageable improvements. In ITIL, approach the improvements we undertake with this same minimalist, paired down perspective. Improvements can be sequential or simultaneous; they may or may not have dependencies; but they are individually undertaken with a focussed objective and scope.

Observe Directly
Go to the place where value-creating activity actually takes place and observe it; see what really happens.  Why not, for example, sit down next to the Service Desk operator and see and hear what happens. “You observe a lot just by watching” – Yogi Berra.

Be Transparent
Be open and up-front. Take people on the journey by improving awareness of what is happening and how and why it is being done. Make sure that improvement initiatives are visible so that everybody can see and understand how we are tracking. Dashboards and reports can be useful for this. Transparency also affords an opportunity to express lessons learned along the way.

Get the right people involved. ‘DevOps’ embodies this: development and operations working together.., Within ITIL any stakeholder in the IT value stream (ITSCM, Information Security Manager, Incident Manager, etc.) needs to work and learn together. This balance and interaction helps build consistent continual improvement, relevant for all stakeholders.

Keep it Simple
Do not feel a compulsion to over-engineer our endeavours. What is the minimal viable product, the simplest way we can achieve improvement? Cut through the fog and “embrace simplicity” - Lao Tzu.

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