ITIL 4 – in 3 minutes

Figuur 1. The ITIL 4 service value system

Figuur 1. The ITIL 4 service value system


ITIL® has been the leading guidance for IT Service Management in the last three decades, and it has been accepted all over the world by a vast community of practitioners.

ITIL focuses on aligning IT services with the needs of the business and is supported by quality services from a wide range of providers including examination institutes, accredited training providers and consultancies, software and tool vendors.

ITIL was initially created in the 1980s by the UK government and is now owned by AXELOS; the current version is ITIL 4 (published February 2019), which updates ITIL v3/2011.

The basics

ITIL provides a structured approach to one of the most important support domains for modern business: the provision of information technology services for the improvement of business results.

The new ITIL 4 guidance supports modern ways of delivering value in a co-creation effort of stakeholders, using an Agile approach in a customer-focused setting. This supports modern technologies, including DevOps and cloud computing. Its holistic approach not only supports the management of IT services, but now also supports other domains, enabling the integration of IT with the business and with other support domains.


The ITIL service value system (Figure 1) is a model demonstrating how all the components and activities of an organization work together to facilitate value creation through IT-enabled services.

The ITIL service value chain (Figure 2) is a set of interconnected activities that an organization performs to deliver a valuable product or service to its consumers and to facilitate value realization. It provides an operating model for service providers that covers six key activities, applying practices to continually improve the enabled values.

Figuur 2. The ITIL 4 service value chain

Figuur 2. The ITIL 4 service value chain

The ITIL practices are sets of organizational resources designed for performing work or accomplishing an objective. Activities in the service value chain can be based on established practices.

The ITIL Guiding principles are recommendations that can guide an organization in all circumstances, regardless of changes in its goals, strategies, type of work, or management structure. The ITIL guiding principles assure that the organization performs in a consistent, effective and efficient way.

Governance is the means by which an organization is directed and controlled. The organization’s governance is based on a consistent set of guiding principles. Governance enables the organization to ensure that its operations are always aligned with its strategy.

Continual improvement is a recurring organizational activity performed at all levels to ensure that an organization’s performance continually meets stakeholders’ expectations.

The holistic approach of ITIL 4 covers all four dimensions required for any service organization that aims to deliver services in a systematic way (Figure 2).

Figuur 3. The four ITIL 4 dimensions of IT service management

Figuur 3. The four ITIL 4 dimensions of IT service management


ITIL 4 has updated the processes, activities and functions of ITIL v3, and transformed them into a set of:

  • 14 general management practices
  • 17 service management practices
  • 3 technical management practices

All practices support the six activities in the ITIL service value chain (Figure 2), in a flexible way. Demand triggers the delivery of products and services, and – in turn – value. The relation between value and demand also illustrates a feed-back loop. The service value chain activities use combinations of ITIL practices to convert their inputs to outputs, contributing to the value creation. They may draw upon internal or external resources, processes, skills or competencies from any combination of practices.

Target audience

IT service providers, IT consumers, and IT professionals in a wide range of roles.

Want to know more?

VHP offers one publication on ITIL 4, endorsed by AXELOS:

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