ITIL best practice – a core competency in digital services
Blog posted by: David Nyman, Trainer and Management Consultant, Aim 4 Knowledge, 24 October 2022.
Why should service management professionals and the organizations they work for adopt best practice such as ITIL 4?
At the core of this enquiry is a second question: do you believe in best practice?
For some people this may be difficult to answer, as it means confronting the idea that they’re not as individual and unique in their professional approaches as they’d like to think. And if people are convinced that they know better than using best practice and resist external influences on the way they work, this belief extends through organizations on the whole.
Believing in best practice – as I do – means being open to the “wisdom of the crowd” in which numerous people have identified practices that work well across many scenarios.
So, why is this important for both professionals and their employers today?
Digital services and best practice in the Nordic countries
In the past two decades, the Nordics have experienced great changes due to new technology, digital transformation, and key investments such as the national ID system – used for log-in, payments and tax returns.
This is a good example of how both public sector organizations and businesses across the region are doing a tremendous job of digitizing and digitally transforming, creating new capabilities that are now seen as more common and accepted.
The level of infrastructure now available means there is the necessary foundation for far better development of digital services.
However, this needs players jumping on digital transformation more fully and creating the means to bypass the established platforms.
But how does this affect the frameworks, methods and best practice skills organizations need to progress to the next level of maturity?
Best practice training needs in organizations
I’ve seen a lot of work done in organizations – and, potentially, a slight over-investment – to create and develop design thinking and Agile working methods focused on new product development.
Meanwhile, there’s been less attention paid to – and a comparative under-investment in – more established approaches such as IT service management and associated best practice. I see this as a problem because companies need to be better at managing what they already do.
For example, there are currently cloud services initiatives in the banking sector, but – for large, established businesses – moving effectively to the cloud can take years. And while there is a major focus on digital development, it’s possible to neglect the back-end infrastructure and service management that’s needed in cloud services too.
The impact of the DevOps movement in this context has been mostly positive: especially in “greenfield” development from the ground up and creating integrated working methods with multi-disciplinary teams. But, at the same time, it has also promoted a technology-led approach based on vendors and tools and – in my opinion – not really addressed the gap between “Dev” and “Ops”. A gap that I think will only be closed by increased focus on cooperation.
The consequence is that organizations are now reaching the point where back-end systems are not supporting the development focus.
Which brings us back to best practice.
ITIL 4 – a holistic approach to digital transformation
Sweden is one country example of a trendy environment when it comes to choosing training and certifications. This brings a tendency to go for the “shiny new thing” and invites the question from some people: what is the relevance of ITIL today?
The simple answer is that ITIL 4 provides trainees with coverage around Agile, DevOps plus plenty more; so, why be inefficient and seek knowledge from several different sources when you can obtain much of the valuable knowledge you need in one place? One of the key concepts in ITIL 4, the ITIL Service Value System, is in essence a way of systemically tying together how all parts of an organization work together to enable value creation. One could argue that ITIL 4 acts in a similar way with all the different best practices it covers. So, to quote German psychologist, Kurt Koffka, creating “a whole that is other than the sum of its parts”.
At the higher levels of ITIL 4 certification – within the Managing Professional designation, for example – each module has a distinct focus for practitioners: ITIL 4 Specialist: Create, Deliver and Support features some of the more established elements of ITIL while still clearly describing the concept of value streams and the need for new professional competencies.
ITIL 4 Specialist: Drive Stakeholder Value focuses on relationships and the idea of the customer journey, while ITIL 4 Specialist: High-velocity IT concentrates on high velocity environments and their unique requirements, from a change of culture to use of new techniques. Finally, ITIL 4 Strategist: Direct, Plan and Improve is about establishing a purpose, setting objectives and realizing them.
Having looked at many frameworks and models, there is none with such a combination of principle-based, unified and holistic approaches that incorporates a wide range of processes and practices.
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