Daniel Breston

Daniel Breston

#TechEthicist on great practices in the Cloud

ITIL 4 is Quite Engaging – the Service Value Chain Explained

The entire technology world is aware that ITIL, the grand-daddy of all the IT service management (ITSM) frameworks, has morphed into ITIL 4.

This article, originally published here, is not a commentary on ITIL 4, as others are doing that now. I simply want to share how I was blown away by one ITIL 4 image.


Sherlock Holmes in a “Scandal in Bohemia” tells Watson:

“You see, but you do not observe.”

So please stop reading for a moment. Look at the diagram. Observe and consider the impact of what it depicts against the way you deliver value with technology-based solutions at your organization today.


Does your demand flow like this: do this now, oh wait, not that but this, but could you do that by spending less and could we have it sooner? They DEMAND and you do what?


Whoever encouraged the use of this word in the ITIL 4 service value chain model deserves an award!

They demanded and now you’ll engage to consider why they want this, how it will benefit them, and what has to occur next to meet their demand. Engage is the often-missing step which needs to become mandatory.

Consider this: DevOps is about collaboration. Agile encourages people to work together to solve a problem. Lean suggests that to improve or deliver something, then people need to work together. VeriSM, which I played a small part in creating, encourages the interactions of everyone in the lifecycle of delivery – including suppliers – to play nicely in the demand mesh. ITIL 4 now underpins all of these practices, and others, with the use of the word engage.


Some people see waterfall. I observe one continuous process.

Plan and Improve: I try something, I learn from the outcome, and I improve. This activity encompasses the delivery lifecycle. It’s not something that occurs at the beginning and the end. I can drop it in anywhere I need to help remove a constraint that stops my capability to solve problems or enable solutions based on technology. How do I know I have a chance with my plan or in improving what I do? By engaging!


Some people see waterfall. I observe a constant set of activities.

People engage to build something that’s based on an agreed design which when transitioned is affirmed by the people engaged to create or benefit from that Value.

All happy? Great then let’s deliver and support it no matter where it resides. Making people happy by providing things that are “right first time” is what engagement is all about, especially in these digitally disruptive times.


A further point on this aspect of the ITIL 4 service value chain. After four decades of supporting technology services for a variety of organizations, the one thing I’ve learned is that if you don’t engage on the way things will change or on how things need to be resolved if they break, then your service will always suffer.

Deliver and support requires commitment from all involved parties. Technology services depend on your people but also on others. Treat them as suppliers and get what you pay for. Engage with them as partners and reap the rewards.


As written in many blogs and books: no matter what you do in your pipeline or technology lifecycle, or no matter how good and fast you are, it’s all a waste if what you deliver is of no use or poor quality.

Value is only perceived when that product or service is used and appreciated. You can’t determine this by sending out an occasional net promoter score (NPS) survey.

You can only determine a product or service’s worth by engaging with the consumer, be they internal or external. It could be Ops building an API for product teams or your organization providing a new digital service – you can only know if it was of value by engaging.


Synonyms for engage: involve, participate, take part.

This is what ITIL, no matter the version, has always been about. It’s not the processes or practices or tools that you use that matter. It’s the way you work together to create amazing things based on technology.

I won’t comment on the rest of ITIL 4 but I hope this encourages you to go and observe for yourself, and please engage with us on what you find!