What’s new for ITIL 4? – insight from Pink20

18 March 2020 - What’s new for ITIL 4? – insight from Pink20

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.

For me, Pink20 was the year to attend this amazing international IT Service Management conference and exhibition. This was not only because Batman was in attendance, with his batmobile. 

The theme of the conference was that Batman is a superhero without super powers and in ITSM we too can do amazing things without having super powers. The reason in both cases is because of the tools we have at our disposal and the teams we work with.

ITIL 4 is a year old now and this conference was an opportunity to explore it in depth – not just ITIL 4 itself, but how it has taken on board and integrated with LEAN, Agile and DevOps and how it has taken ITIL v3 to a new level – not discarding the old in favour of the new, but shining a new light on it. Facets which were hidden are revealed. Themes which were glossed over in ITIL v3 are now explored in depth. There is a realisation that one size does not fit all and that different services will need different lifecycles. The ITIL v3 Lifecycle model has gone - although it has not been rejected but rather generalised into the Service Value System and Service Value Chain.

In her talk, Four Dimensions of Service Management, Robin Hysick  explained the Service Value Chain as being like a set of Russian dolls. ITIL Processes always contained procedures and work instructions. They have now been subsumed into practices which are part of a particular service value stream within the service value chain. The ITIL v3 lifecycle represented just one stream – one route through the chain. The four P's of ITIL v3 (People, Process, Products and Partners) have been promoted in ITIL 4 to be four dimensions (Organisations and People, Information and Technology, Partners and Suppliers, and Value Streams and Processes). In places, ITIL v3 was rather one dimensional – once it starts talking about the ITIL processes (such as Incident Management), it downplays the importance of the other three Ps. ITIL 4 practices subsume the ITIL v3 processes but include all four dimensions.

Another major theme of the conference was concerning business relationships. Services co-create value. How do we do that? If an on-line retailer doesn't provide value, their customers vote with their wallet, but in higher rducation it is often more difficult to see what our users want and whether we are providing the right value. In his talk Integrated Service Management – The Model and Key Concepts Troy DuLoulin talked about value being a product of cost, speed and quality. We need the right capabilities in order to deliver transformative IT. The demand for IT is increasing, which was something which I could relate to knowing that Oxford has far more projects in its pipeline than it can fund. Troy also talked about how we need a holistic view of how we meet that demand, recognising that unplanned work erodes our capacity. We need a LEAN approach to continual improvement which recognises that unplanned work in order to resource teams in reducing technical debt and improving quality and reliability.

ITIL 4 emphasises the requirement for governance – a feature which should be understood within Higher Education where we have numerous committees providing that role. In her talk Seven Guiding Principles of ITIL, Beverly Parker explored another new concept in ITIL 4 which helps to set a framework for all activity. When you just list the seven principles it is easy to accept them as common sense without really understanding how they interact and contribute to the whole. Beverly provided a deep dive of the principles, relating them back to our stakeholders and how these principles ensure that we not only co-create value but that we understand and respond to competing demands. IT exists within an ever-changing landscape and applying the principle "Progress Iteratively with Feedback" recognises that the agile approach works well in such a landscape, offering greater flexibility and faster response times. It won't work in every situation, but where it does work, it should improve quality and user satisfaction.

ITIL professional training is important and has its place, but this conference provided deep dives into aspects of this new version which one typically does not get in exam-focused training. Speakers were able to talk from their wealth of experience, without having to keep to a syllabus. As well as Pink Consultants, we also heard from practitioners about their real-life experiences.

Pink20 welcomed some internationally famous speakers to talk about body language, innovation and motivation. I particularly enjoyed Chester Elton talking about The Carrot Principle. It is not always easy to provide ten meaningful words of encouragement for every word of critical advice, but we all need to appreciate our teams more. 

As well as the opportunity to give a presentation and receive comments back on it, the other valuable aspect of any conference is the networking and interaction with other attendees and exhibitors. It was great to meet up with US and Canadian HEI IT staff and talk about the challenges and opportunities we face. I also had long conversations with staff from Axelos and Ivanti

This was an excellent opportunity and I would strongly recommend it. I greatly appreciated the support of a ucisa bursary which enabled me to attend.