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ITIL – Now entering the 4th Dimension

ITIL has always taught us that to achieve our goals, the right outcomes, and the desired benefits, we need to successfully blend together our people, processes and technology.


In ITIL v3 we were introduced to the 4 Ps of Service Design: People, Process, Products (services, technology and tools) and Partners (suppliers, manufacturers and vendors). In essence, the key to successfully implementing IT service management as a practice is all about preparing and planning the effective and efficient use of those 4 Ps. In other words, making sure that anything new or changing in your service portfolio is considered in light of those 4 Ps.


With ITIL 4, we see these 4Ps being augmented with the introduction of the Four Dimensions of Service Management.


ITIL 4 defines these 4 dimensions as being collectively critical to “the effective and efficient facilitation of value for customers in the form of products and services”.


Let’s take a look at these dimensions:


Dimension 1 – Organisations and People

This dimension includes organisational structures; management and leadership styles; roles and responsibilities, and capacity and competences (along with systems to aid communication and collaboration).


Importantly, it acknowledges that the above are not, by themselves, sufficient to improve the organisation’s effectiveness. The organisation also needs a culture that supports its objectives. Culture itself is made up of shared values and attitudes; leaders and champions that advocate the values; trust and transparency, and communication.


Dimension 2 – Information and Technology

This dimension includes the information and knowledge necessary for service management.  It also considers the technology we will use when designing, building and operating our products or services. In addition, it considers the security and regulatory requirements we are working with.


Dimension 3 – Partners and Suppliers

Every organisation and service depend to some extent on services provided by other organisations. This dimension encompasses an organisation’s relationship with other organisations that are involves in the design, development, deployment, delivery, support and/or continual improvement of services. It also focusses on agreements and contracts between the organisation and its suppliers.


Dimension 4 – Value Streams and Processes

This dimension is concerned with how various parts of an organisation work together to enable value creation. A value stream is simply a series of steps the organisation takes to create and deliver products and services to service consumers.


A process is a set of interrelated or interacting activities that transform inputs into outputs. Processes define the sequence or actions and their dependencies. A well-defined process can improve productivity across the organisation.


The four dimensions represent a holistic approach to service management.

Organisations should ensure that there is a balance of focus between each dimension. External factors and their impact should also be considered. All four dimensions and any external factors (political, economic, social, technological, legal or environmental) should be addressed as they evolve, and consideration should be given to emerging trends and possible opportunities.


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