01 July 2020 - Revealing layers, creating value - lessons from ITIL4

Andrew is the head of the Service Management Office at the University of Oxford. He was attending the Pink20 conference thanks to a ucisa bursary.

Understanding ITIL 4 – my personal development

An onion has many layers and so does ITIL 4. I went to the Pink20 international ITSM conference and exhibition thinking that I was just about getting my head around the new concepts introduced in the latest version of the Axelos best practice framework for IT service management. I came away aware that there was so much more, that I had only just scraped the surface, that there were so many more layers to peel back. One speaker likened it to a Russian doll rather than to an onion: The ITIL v3 processes which I had come to know so well are the smallest Russian doll. They fit within the ITIL 4 practices which include 4 dimensions and not just the processes. These fit within Service Value Streams, which in turn fit within the Service Value Chain, which in turn sits within the Service Value System. Five nested Russian dolls, each more complicated in turn.

I continue to peel back layers of the onion, but a week of being absorbed in both the concepts but also the application of those concepts has been incredibly valuable.  Since returning, I have qualified as an ITIL 4 Managing Professional, upgrading my ITIL v3 Expert status to this new version.  For me the biggest step which I have taken is to sign a contract with a publishing company to write a practical guide to Problem Management. Hopefully that will be in the bookshops by 2022.

At Oxford, I had already been looking at three areas of service management which needed to be brought up to date. The conference has given me the confidence to take the next steps and indeed to take bigger steps than I might otherwise have taken. We have just finished re-designing our core service roles (Business Owner/Service Sponsor, Service Owner, Service Delivery Manager and Service Operations Manager) and my new insight into ITIL 4 has allowed me to incorporate new concepts and new language into the descriptions for these roles.

We are also reviewing our Service Catalogue (unfortunately delayed by lockdown). We have already started talking about Service Relationship Models, and the new Service Catalogue will need to take into account service offerings and a better understanding of our customer base.

The third area which I have been looking at since I returned is how my SMO team is structured. At present, it is structured around the ITIL v3 processes. The holistic approach to service management espoused by ITIL 4 runs counter to this. Furthermore, having individuals specialising in a few processes is fine when you do not aim to cover all processes. With ITIL 4 having 34 practices, it does not seem the best way to divide up a small team. I am looking, in consultation with the staff concerned, at a major re-focus of the team, so that that it is service orientated rather than process orientated. Would I have done this if I had not attended the conference? I do not know, but conferences give you the air in which to dream dreams. The feedback from the presentation I gave at the conference certainly gave me the confidence that I am heading in the right direction.   Andrew’s presentation – An Oxford approach to co-creating value (5 MB)

HE IT Community

The RUGIT Service Management Group (RUGIT-SMG) was already in conversation with our American colleagues in EDUCAUSE before I attended the conference, but meeting them in person gave a huge boost to those relationships. We have been talking to them about shared work and about borrowing some of their pre-existing work. Following the conference, I co-led a workshop in Birmingham for RUGIT-SMG to look at an anglicised version of the EDUCAUSE template Service Catlog

My work on service roles has contributed to that, as has my ITIL 4 knowledge. That work is on-going (lockdown has not helped).  I have also just finished working with Axelos to produce a case study on Oxford's use of ITIL which I hope will encourage other HE IT departments to adopt it.

My ucisa bursary enabled me to attend the largest international IT service management conference, but it also enabled me to see further by standing on the shoulders of others.