15/04/2019 |

How ITIL 4 Increases Business Flexibility

ITIL 4 can help you to break out of
silo thinking through more flexibility.

Hand controls fader on a mixing console

Whether it’s trends like AI or simply better cloud-services, technology is ever-changing and businesses today simply can’t ignore this. In fact, regardless of how good your product or service is right now, it’s safe to say that technology advancements are bound to change it over time. Nowadays, demands come faster, every practice is measured and optimized, and IT is pushed to its very limits; and if you aren’t willing to accept this and become flexible as a business, someone else will. Meaning, your competitors win.

But being flexible means being in a constant state of flux. By its simple definition, flexibility means that something can adapt easily without being broken or can be easily modified. So how feasible is it that entire businesses can operate this way?

Having recently taken the ITIL® Foundation class and obtained certification for ITIL 4, I think that the new concepts within this framework will be invaluable to businesses as they strive to maintain performance while constantly keeping an eye on the future – and reaching that goal of flexibility.

Silos Hinder Flexibility

For many years, we’ve talked about the challenge that organizational silos pose to successfully optimizing the customer experience. Silos are created when people focus solely only the organization for which they have responsibility. It means that most plans or actions are taken based on a singular perspective of an individual organization. When a company is experiencing silo-thinking, it might sound like, “How can the HR team make onboarding better for new hires?” or “How can the support team respond to incidents more quickly?”

It shifts the thinking from having single processes that your organization might focus on to looking at the entire experience through a value stream.

The problem with these types of queries is that they look at a single organization. In order for a company to improve the customer experience, it must have a holistic view of what’s happening. Siloed organizations lack the complete picture, and therefore don’t have a solid understanding of the customer experience today and how to meet customer demands in the future.

The design of the ITIL 4 Service Value System is configured in a way that encourages organizations to break down their siloed thinking. It shifts the thinking from having single processes that your organization might focus on to looking at the entire experience through a value stream. From the time the customer demand is recognized, this end-to-end thinking is applied across all organizations, stakeholders and practices within the construct of the service value chain to give companies a well-rounded picture on what the customer experience is and/or should be.

Having this holistic view on service delivery makes it much quicker and easier for companies to see the possible impact and risks of decisions, as well as the possible benefits, allowing them to respond more quickly and flexibly to demands, trends and changes.

Agility and Flexibility Go Hand-in-Hand

In an effort to more quickly address customer demands, companies around the world have started to explore less-structured and “faster” methods of development and IT management, such as Agile, DevOps and Lean. These do offer great flexibility when used for their intended purposes, but much like silos, they don’t give companies the entire picture – the holistic view that is necessary to deliver value speedily in the long-term.

When considering the method that will be used for overseeing a project, the ITIL 4 Service Value System helps again. It’s structure leaves room for any of these newer methodologies to be applied, but does so in a way that ensures organizations keep their eye on the entire value stream. By using these methods in partnership with the ITIL framework, day-to-day work progresses quickly and flexibly while concepts that are critical to long-term success, like co-creating value and continual improvement, are not overlooked. Like the definition of flexibility, companies gain the ability to bend without breaking.

Perhaps there wasn't anything wrong with the way things have always been, but it's also likely that there are more efficient ways of doing the same.

Motion Promotes Flexibility

You’ve heard the phrase “a body in motion stays in motion,” right? Well, the same holds true in business. It’s like when someone says, “Well, this is how we’ve always done things.” Perhaps there wasn’t anything wrong with the way things have always been, but it’s also likely that there are more efficient ways of doing the same. Instead of scoffing at new ideas and viewing suggestions for change as hindrances, ITIL 4 embraces them.

The continual improvement component of the ITIL 4 Service Value System prompts businesses to encourage people in all organizations to constantly be thinking about ways in which services can be better. The idea of continual improvement means that people are always evaluating products and services against the stated vision and then making measurable adjustments to try to get closer to the goal. Doing so keeps a company moving and flexible.

In order for businesses of today to enjoy long-term success, it’s important for them to leverage IT services successfully. However, as information and technology are continuously developing in newer and faster ways, this means that all products and services which rely on them (practically everything) must remain flexible – and, in my mind, the newly release ITIL 4 helps accomplish that.

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