ITIL 4 is the world’s leading framework for IT service management (ITSM). It was previously a ‘library’ of insight and best practices (hence the now outdated name, ‘IT Infrastructure Library’), but has since grown into a fully modern and ever-evolving framework based around the latest developments in digital and IT management.
Despite these changes, however, its purpose remains the same: the planning, development, implementation, and continuous improvement of IT services. This is hardly a one-size-fits-all job given the sheer range of IT service types we see even in typical organizations nowadays. For successful ITSM, a business needs a comprehensive yet adaptable approach.
At the heart of ITIL 4 lies the ‘Service Value System (SVS)’, which serves as the architecture of ITIL 4, mapping out the different elements used to not only create services but also to enable effective and continuous ITSM. The SVS, in turn, contains a number of components, the most important of which is the Service Value Chain (SVC).
What is the ITIL service value chain?
The ITIL SVC is an operating model that enables the delivery of bespoke services. It utilizes six key ‘Activities’ that help ITIL practitioners to conceptualize, create, review, and improve high-quality services that are fully suited to client and stakeholder requirements.
The Activities each utilize inputs and outputs, with the results of one Activity usually flowing into the next. At the same time, Activities are interdependent in how they create stakeholder value and can be combined in various different ways depending on the requirements of the service in question.
What are the ITIL service value chain activities?
- Plan – This Activity focuses on strategy. Practitioners develop an understanding of what a service needs to deliver, as well as its current status and its improvement direction in relation to the four dimensions of ITIL 4, Organizations and People, Value Streams and Processes, Information and Technology, and Partners and Suppliers.
- Improve – This Activity is geared towards the continual improvement of practices, services, and products in all Service Value Chain activities, along with the four ITIL dimensions we mentioned previously. This Activity guides gradual and continuous improvement in all Activities and ITIL value streams.
- Engage – This Activity is about engaging with stakeholders. Practitioners will find out what they need, guarantee complete transparency, and optimize stakeholder relationships. They will also take stakeholder and client requirements and turn them into tangible design points, which will be used in the fourth Activity.
- Design and Transition – This Activity takes the expectations devised in the Engage stage and makes sure that the service or product in question can satisfy them. Requirements are also translated into specifications that can be used in the Obtain/ Build Activity. Finally, Design and Transition delivers new products and services for the sixth Activity, Deliver and Support.
- Obtain/Build – This Activity ensures service components meet required specifications, including being available whenever and wherever necessary. It effectively turns requirements into service components, which can be used in both the Design and Transition and Deliver and Support Activities.
- Deliver and Support – This Activity focuses on delivering services and products that meet the needs of clients and stakeholders. Its inputs come from Design and Transition, and it also utilizes service components from Obtain/Build.
ITIL Activities and practices are combined in various ways to create ITIL value streams for specific services. The shape of a value stream will depend on why it was created, such as to accomplish a singular task or respond to a specific situation.
Value streams can also be amended as requirements change, such as when new best practices or technology emerges.
Finally, ITIL value streams can also support different forms of service delivery. For example, the SVC would be fully compatible with services created via DevOps pipelines.
What are service value chain inputs and outputs?
Inputs and outputs are part of the ITIL 4 SVC Activities. Every value stream is geared towards the creation of outputs as well as products and services.
- Inputs are utilized within Activities. Inputs can be external from the SVC or created by an Activity. External inputs can include a business’s governance strategy demanding certain actions from IT. Inputs created by an Activity will typically be utilized in subsequent Activities.
- Outputs are created by Activities. Outputs can be provided internally to other Activities within the SVC or externally to consumers, clients, or other parts of a business.
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