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Unlocking ITIL®4: Defining Value and Navigating Career Growth

By Sophie Hussey and Georgina Otubela
March 6, 2024

What is ITIL and how can it benefit your organisation and support your career development? In this article, we explore the foundational concepts of ITIL®4 and discuss how the ITIL framework has supported their career progression.

Why ITIL, and what’s in it for you?

Regardless of whether you work in a technology function or the wider business, there are many learnings from the ITIL®4 framework that can apply. Let’s start with the basics, what is ITIL? ITIL is a best practice and guidance framework that talks about how to deliver value to customers and key stakeholders whilst ensuring you both keep your feet on the ground whilst striving for continual improvement. ITIL introduces a model called the service value system or SVS (shown below) which is made up of several components that ultimately take demand as the input to deliver value.
ITIL4 Service Value System
Source: Axelos, “ITIL Foundation: ITIL®4 Edition” (2019) – ITIL®4 Service Value System

If you are new to the framework or are seeking to reaffirm your knowledge, one of the best places to start within the SVS is the guiding principles. These principles underpin the framework and are a key area that can be applied to any function or department in an organisation. The guiding principles are:

Guiding Principle Translates As
Focus on value=Keep your attention on what is important
Start where you are=Keep grounded and start from a realistic base
Progress iteratively with feedback=Keep evolving, taking it step-by-step and allowing others to provide input
Collaborate and promote visibility=Include your stakeholders, keeping people informed on the journey
Think and work holistically=Avoid working in isolation and remember the bigger picture such as the organisational goals
Keep it simple and practical=Complexity doesn’t always mean better – start with the basics with an aim for efficiency & effectiveness
Optimise and automate=Use the tools available, work smarter not harder

Let’s talk about value.

Value is one of ITIL®4’s guiding principles but what is it and why is it important? The meaning of value can differ, depending on the person, department, or organisation, and isn’t necessarily about financial gain or benefits. The obvious way to measure the value of something is its cost, its profits or measuring the return on investment. If you cannot measure the value through increased profits or an immediate reduction in costs, how do you measure it? There are multiple ways:
  • Customer satisfaction and experience
  • Productivity
  • Mean time between failures
  • Mean time to resolve.
  • Volume and duration of major incidents
  • Volume of failed changes
The list could go on. Ultimately, you’re probably already measuring the performance of your processes and the services you provide, and you can use those same measures to see if there is any improvement, any increase from the baseline or history of metrics you’re working from. The key thing about value in the delivery of services is that at least part (if not all) of the value is a shared outcome or achievement. Value is co-created when people, departments, and organisations work together to achieve a shared objective or vision.

How does ITIL work?

Imagine you’re making dinner for a special occasion – you will need recipes, ingredients, pots and pans, plates and cutlery, a stove, and potentially a blender or other kitchen appliances, as well as having time, resources, and a level of skill to make everything. The ideal outcome is a 3-course meal, all made to perfection and served on time.

To bring the analogy to life with ITIL, to deliver effective and valuable services you need all the component parts of the service value system (including the practices like incident management, change enablement) to make it happen. ITIL is a best practice framework which you can adopt and adapt so that it works effectively in your organisation. You can cherry pick from it, selecting the key approaches and practices that will provide value when delivering services.

In the foundation course and book, the entirety of the framework is explained to give content to the learner of what ITIL is, why it is important and how to apply its principles.

Can it support career progression?

The ITIL certification scheme provides a defined learning path benefiting the individual at each designation. Georgina and Sophie can attest that the ITIL certification program has supported and enhanced their careers. Georgina notes that she began her ITIL journey with ITIL v2 in 2008 and she has continued to build upon her knowledge and certifications through ITIL®3 as an ITIL expert until current day as an ITIL®4 Managing Professional while currently training for the Digital and IT Strategy certification to become an ITIL Strategic Leader, which combined with the Managing Professional designation equates to obtaining the ITIL Master designation. Georgina attributes her career development success to her practice in Service Management aligned with the ITIL framework which allows her to play a key role interfacing between technology teams and the business acting as an intermediary and ensuring best interests of all parties are satisfied. A key change in ITIL®4 is the concept of service value system and understanding the definition what value means to a business. Ultimately, with the alignment of ITIL®4, service delivery professionals can build better relationships with their businesses and tailor delivery while removing noise and distractions.

What is the certification path to an ITIL Master?

The ITIL®4 Foundation certification provides the fundamentals to embed ITIL into your working practices, it is a solid introduction to concepts and tailoring service offerings to best practice. Whether starting out in IT or a seasoned professional, this certification is beneficial to all. Obtaining a Managing Professional designation gives the individual the essential skills to run a successful IT-enabled service portfolio. The four Managing Professional modules are: Create, Deliver and Support; Drive Stakeholder Value; High-Velocity IT; and Direct, Plan and Improve. Gaining a Strategic Leader designation helps established and aspiring IT leaders to navigate the complexities of the digital era and prepare for digital transformation. The two Strategic Leader modules are: Direct, Plan and Improve; and Digital and IT Strategy.
ITIL4 certification scheme
Source: Axelos, ITIL®4 certification scheme

Can ITIL apply outside of a technology function?

While ITIL is primarily associated with the Information Technology sector, it also places a strong focus on service management, particularly highlighting the guiding principle “think and work holistically” which supports an inclusive approach delivering value to customers through clear services. The framework also supports digital change helping businesses deliver services that directly meet the changing requirements of their customers, ensuring digital projects are in line with customer satisfaction. This approach benefits organisations, promoting operational excellence and bringing about improved proactive risk management and service resilience.

Do you need to apply the ITIL framework in its entirety for successful delivery? In short, no. ITIL is a framework that you can apply and tailor to your organisation; there is no one size fits all approach. Continual improvement is the key. You may choose not to adopt certain aspects; those that you do adopt will continue to mature as you refine your internal processes and governance. When implemented using a tailored approach in collaboration with the business, ITIL can support the delivery of best-in-class services.

Browse IIL’s ITIL Courses here!

Sophie Hussey has been working in the world of technology for nearly 25 years, following a technical career path before specialising in service management, and fulfilling leadership roles before stepping out to run her own consultancy business, Lapis Consulting Services. The consultancy works with clients to support the growth of their colleagues, drive service excellence and deliver value. Sophie is passionate about supporting & developing others through leading with empathy and championing being authentic with the mantra “Be bold. Be brave. Be YOU!”. Sophie is an ITIL®4 Managed Professional, STEM Ambassador, Women in Tech Mentor & advocate. To learn more about Sophie, connect through https://www.linkedin.com/in/sophiehussey/
Georgina Otubela is a seasoned service delivery leader with 18 years of experience working in the IT Services industry.  She has a technical background specialising in IT support and infrastructure support roles before pursuing a career in service management and leadership within the financial, media and gaming sectors in the UK.  She has a genuine passion for delivering exceptional service and developing high performing teams, empowering them to achieve their goals through dedicated leadership and mentoring. Georgina is an ITIL®4 Managing Professional as well as a Prince 2 & Prince2 Agile Practitioner. She is also a committee member of the British Standards Institute (BSI) and International Organization for Standardization (ISO), having recently contributed as a panel member as part of the ISO IT Service Management Standard Community discussing future proofing and enthusing future generations in Service Management. Georgina is a STEM ambassador working with schools within the UK to promote and encourage young people considering careers within the technology and service management sector.  She is also a Women in Tech advocate and mentor. You can connect with Georgina through https://www.linkedin.com/in/georgina-otubela/

Disclaimer: The ideas, views, and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of International Institute for Learning or any entities they represent.

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