What’s New in ITIL 4? Everything You Need to Know

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For more than ten years, ITIL v3 was the world’s leading framework for IT service management. It helped users establish environments built around the design, creation, and continuous improvement of IT services, optimizing value in markets that were becoming increasingly competitive. ITIL v3 Experts found their skills and experience to be in high demand, and the framework remains a guiding force for both agile startups and international corporate giants.

At the itSMF USA Fusion 2017 conference, AXELOS Global Best Practice finally announced ITIL 4, the latest iteration of the framework. This new industry and community-driven version would not only improve on existing ITIL processes but also acknowledge and overcome many of the most common hangups practitioners had with ITIL V3.

It is safe to say that the ITIL 4 announcement received a mixed reception. Many were excited, as ITIL V3 has garnered a variety of criticisms over the years, and in announcing ITIL 4 AXELOS appeared ready and willing to address them.

Others were, naturally, concerned about what the release would mean for existing ITIL V3 certifications. Would they remain valid? How would the ITIL 4 certification path be different? When would AXELOS announce how to bridge ITIL v3 and 4?

With ITIL 4 Foundation having been released early in 2019, the new framework already has a growing collection of practitioners. Let’s take a look at just what ITIL 4 has to offer!

How are ITIL v3 and ITIL 4 Different?

In a nutshell, ITIL 4 is a refinement of ITIL V3 which aims to marry the framework more cleanly with modern ITSM. It is far more flexible, with a greater focus on customization and collaboration. It is also community-driven, with ITIL practitioners helping to update the framework by constantly factoring in additional developments in the world of IT.

These are some of the most important updates delivered by ITIL 4:

  • Integration – ITIL 4 is designed to integrate with other popular ITSM methods and standards, such as Agile, Lean, and DevOps. ITIL practitioners had long been asking for this in the years of ITIL V3.
  • Customers – Unlike ITIL V3, ITIL 4 treats customers as an essential part of creating and sustaining value. Customers also have a key role to play in…
  • The Service Value System (SVS) – This describes how the various elements of an organization work together in order to create tangible value. In this equation, the most essential inputs are ‘Demand’ and ‘Opportunity’, while the output is the ‘Value’ created by IT-powered products and services. In between, the SVS is governed by Guiding Principles, Governance, the Service Value Chain (SVC), Practices, and Continual Improvement.
  • Flexibility – The SVS is not a rigid system; rather, it acknowledges that the different elements that make it up can be combined in a variety of ways depending on the scenario at hand or the changing needs of the organization in control.
  • Communication – The new framework encourages communication for the sake of eliminating siloed thinking. In order to get as much value as possible from the SVS, ITIL practitioners are encouraged to apply it across the entire organization in question.

Is ITIL v3 Still Valid?

Before we answer this, it’s important to put things in perspective. ITIL 4 is enough of a departure from ITIL v3 that the previous version’s Foundation module is not a sufficient prerequisite for taking intermediate exams in the new certification path. In other words, even the basics of ITIL have seen fairly significant updates.

However, that does not mean that ITIL v3 is invalid. Most of its best practices around continuous improvement, supporting customers, responding to risks, and so on, remain valid. AXELOS also specified that ITIL v3 qualifications would not expire with the release of the new framework.

Even so, new students are advised to study ITIL 4 rather than the old framework. The tools, insight, and best practices of ITIL 4 have a great deal more relevance for both businesses and career IT managers.

Older students can also choose to transition to ITIL v3 via the ITIL 4 Managing Professional (MP) Transition module.

Is it ITIL v4 or ITIL 4?

In the run-up to the release of ITIL v3, AXELOS had a tradition of releasing a new publication for the framework every ten years or so. This was standard practice for most frameworks at the time, largely because the rate of evolution of best practices for digital and IT management was much slower than it is today.

Now, however, this approach simply is not feasible. In naming ITIL 4, AXELOS wanted to make it clear that, rather than releasing entirely new versions, it would instead update ITIL 4 incrementally and regularly. This ensures that the framework remains up to date and allows practitioners to keep their skills sharp without having to train in a new certification path.

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