What is the Difference Between ITIL V3 and ITIL V4?

What is the Difference Between ITIL V3 and ITIL V4?

A lot has been made about the release of ITIL V4 which came out in February, 2019. This came about in the 30th year of ITIL so much had been happening for a while. Nevertheless, this latest release has been by far the most major transformation to ITIL yet and is definitely worth a further examination of how it differs from the previous version.

A Brief History

To understand where we are today, it is important to know how we got here. If you are at familiar with ITIL, you should remember that it began in the UK in the 1980s. In response to expensive and ineffective IT services serving the government, the Central Computer and Telecommunication Agency (CCTA) put together a framework called the Government Information Technology Infrastructure Management (GITIM).

Luckily that got changed to ITIL with the first edition published in 1989. A guideline of information that outlined the best ways to manage and IT department and conduct IT services. All subsequent editions have focused on much the same content until V4.

Moving from “Processes” to “Practices”

Before you assume that everything you already have learned regarding ITIL is useless, don’t despair. ITIL V3 and earlier versions have tremendous use and value. The focus of V4 on business rather than just technology is just adding more value to this content.

Now there may be some confusion about what this transition is and why it is even taking place. Many aspects of ITIL V3 revolve around groups of processes and IT capabilities. This has evolved in ITIL V4 by pulling all these aspects together into a practice. Guidance around practices realizes that every organization is difference and needs to take the appropriate approaches that will be successful to their specific business needs. Here’s a quick look at how the vocabulary has changed:

Service Strategy General Management
Financial Management Architecture management
Demand Management Continual Improvement
Service Portfolio Management Information Security Management
Service Design Knowledge Management
Measurement and Reporting
IT Service Continuity Management Organizational Change Management
Availability Management Portfolio Management
Capacity Management Project Management
Service Level Management Relationship Management
Supplier Management Risk Management
Information Security Management Service Financial Management
Service Catalog Management Strategy Management
Service Transition Supplier Management
Workforce and Talent Management
Service Asset & Configuration Management Service Management
Release & Deployment Management Availability Management
Change Management Business Analysis
Knowledge Management Capacity and Performance Management
Service Validation and Testing Change Control
Evaluation Incident Management
Transition Planning and Support IT Asset Management
Service Operation Monitoring and Event Management
Problem Management
Problem Management Release Management
Incident Management Service Catalog Management
Access Management Service Configuration Management
Request Fulfillment Service Continuity Management
Event Management Service Design
Application Management Service Desk
IT Operations Management Service Level Management
Technical Management Service Request Management
Service Desk Service Validation and Testing
Continual Service Improvement Technology Management

While it may seem like ITIL V4 is starting over, really, it’s just taking some practices that weren’t well-explained in ITIL V3 and made a good practice case for them. The main framework that ITIL V4 brings is the marriage of IT and business and the value that brings. It is no longer about IT bringing something to business but co-creating value with business.

ITIL V4 introduces three key components which are new to the IT world, but are new to the ITIL structure. These are:

  1. The service value system
  2. The four dimensions of service
  3. The seven guiding principles

Let’s start with the biggest change: The ITIL V4 service value system.

If the core of ITIL V3 is the service lifecycle, in ITIL V4 it’s the service value system or chain. This chain is triggered by opportunity/demand and value and is comprised of six activities that are needed in order to maximize value for both the customer and the organization. These are:

  • Plan: Create a plan and policies of what you are trying to achieve and how you will do it
  • Improve: Plans and initiatives that will enable continued improvement of products and services
  • Engage: Include stakeholders in conversations to get a clear understanding of their wants and needs
  • Design and transition: The formation of new and changed services
  • Obtain/build: Obtain or build the service components necessary to meet customer needs
  • Deliver and Support: Ensuring that the services delivered actually meet the stakeholder requirements

At the foundation of ITIL V4 are the seven guiding principles. These are recommendations that offer universal guidance to any company. Whenever a company or IT department isn’t sure what direction to go, one of these principles should get you going in the right direction. Let’s take a look:

  1. Focus on Value
    Why would you continue to do something that isn’t providing value to the business? If you can’t show that a project or program is providing demonstrated value to your organization, your next step should be to consider why you’re doing it. Because you always have just isn’t good enough.
  2. Start Where You Are
    Even if what you are embarking on feels like reinventing the wheel, you aren’t starting from level 0. Look at your current situation. Assess what you have that’s working and can be improved upon.
  3. Progress Iteratively with Feedback
    Be okay with taking a few little steps forward then taking a step back to survey the progress and get some feedback. Don’t try and get it all finished and then walk away without ever knowing if you did it right or even did what was necessary.
  4. Collaborate and Promote Visibility
    No one succeeds trying to do everything themselves. Not taking other peoples’ input into consideration will result in a project that may not benefit all the sectors of the business that it could or should. Planning improvements with many parts of the organization providing direction will ensure a more robust outcome and satisfaction for all.
  5. Think and Work Holistically
    It no longer works to think of IT as a subset of business or to separate the two entities. Everything about IT service management is intricately entwined with all aspects of the business environment. One cannot exist without the other. When planning and creating projects, they must be conceived in this context.
  6. Keep It Simple and Practical
    If you’re creating a process for renovating a business function and you find yourself at step 20…stop and go take a nap. Changing the way processes work and client service happens certainly should not get more complex. Creating procedures that are practical, finding redundancy and doing away with the “because we always have” parts will streamline your business and enhance customer satisfaction immensely.
  7. Optimize and Automate
    All organizations are trying to figure out how to do more with less. One of the main jobs of service management should be to see if any of the work being done can be automated. Not with the goal of eliminating human capital but to free it to focus on functions that are more difficult and fulfilling. Optimizing process then automating them leads to customer and employee satisfaction.

This version change isn’t so much a change in content as it is a change in approach and philosophy. So, does every organization need to run out and upgrade? Not necessarily. But should every business get on board with the idea that the IT department is critical to company success and must be completely integrated into the company structure? Well, if the last two years haven’t helped businesses figure that out, then it’s definitely time to get going right now!