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Focusing on Value with ITIL 4: What Does Value Ultimately Mean?

Too often, organizations simply look at the bottom line as the end goal, but those utilizing ITIL 4 might want to dive deeper to come to agreement on the differing definitions of value. Here is a snapshot of that discussion.

ITIL® 4 was launched on February 28, 2019 with the release of ITIL® Foundation: ITIL 4 Edition. Since then a global network of consultants, trainers, and practitioners have become a valuable feedback loop for the product development team at AXELOS.

One of the most fascinating topics has been how organizations are adopting and assimilating the guidance of ITIL 4. By far the most interest and coaching has surrounded the seven guiding principles, which are:

  • Focus on value
  • Start where you are
  • Progress iteratively with feedback Collaborate and promote visibility
  • Think and work holistically
  • Keep it simple and practical
  • Optimize and automate

The order in which they are listed here is not an indication of relative importance or priority. Nonetheless, many people have stressed the importance of “focus on value”. This raises three important subtleties that need to be considered.

Value is subjective

The glossary definition of “value” is “the perceived benefits, usefulness, and importance of something.”

This means that value can be anything: the process, the outcome, or even the benefit. It also means that value is subjective. One group of stakeholders might find something immensely useful, and another might not.

I often like to use the example of ridesharing services. As individuals, we value them for their convenience and because when we use them we do not have to worry about vehicle maintenance, fuel, and parking. However, to some people ride-share services only mean more traffic on the roads. Local authorities might primarily see these services as a source of increased air pollution and decreased uptake in public transportation.

Who are we creating value for?

Much has been written about satisfying consumer needs, but what about others in your organization, or even outside your organization? If the service transaction involves money changing hands, you might need to create value for your accounts department. If it involves potentially sensitive information, you should consider creating value for your information security teams and auditors. The accounts department or the information security team might not be an active participant in the service transaction. However, if you cannot create value for them, you are damaging their ability to function and perhaps exposing the organization to significant risks.

The guiding principles do not exist or operate in isolation

It is very rare, perhaps impossible, to observe any activity and highlight just one principle in action. Hailing a rideshare using an app, for example, might demonstrate “focus on value”, “keep it simple and practical”, and “optimize and automate”. You may even be able to identify all seven guiding principles in that one activity.

Many organizations around the world have been investing in coaching and adopting the guiding principles as their ITIL 4 adoption starting point. That is a sensible approach, because as we have seen, the ITIL guiding principles should influence every other aspect of your service management evolution.