ITIL 4 Guiding Principles Explained

ITIL 4 Guiding Principles Explained

It's easier to understand ITIL 4 guiding principles with examples. Read on if you're looking for more detailed explanations of ITIL 4 guiding principles.

Being a good IT service manager is about more than knowing some coding language. You need to manage a group of people with different skill sets, knowledge, and expertise, in order to keep your company running smoothly and efficiently. One of the reasons to take a course on ITIL 4 is to learn the best practices for every IT process or system you could use.

Read on to learn more about the seven ITIL 4 guiding principles and how they facilitate continual improvement in every IT setting.

What Is ITIL?

The Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) contains a set of standardized best practices for performing IT activities and delivering IT services. It facilitates the adaptation of IT personnel’s skills and expertise to the needs of any business in any industry.

Created in the 1980s, ITIL aims is to improve service levels and enhance business efficiency while reducing the costs associated with IT practices.

ITIL 4: The Guiding Principles

The 7 guiding principles of ITIL 4 explain the best way for IT personnel to select, plan, deliver, and maintain IT services. They focus on efficiency throughout the project, the value of the output, and collaboration.

The best way to understand these principles is to visualize how they play out in your business or company.

1. Focus on Value

The value of whatever service you provide is measured by how well it serves the customer. Every product or service is designed with a customer’s satisfaction in mind.

Before doing anything, ask yourself if it creates value for the customer or the business. If the answer is no, you’ll be wasting the business’s resources and time. During ITIL 4 training, you learn that every action, process, procedure, and service exists to add value to the company or the customer.

2. Start Where You Are

When updating an existing system, it’s tempting to wipe the slate clean and start designing from the ground up. Instead of scrapping the current system, it’s better to identify the system’s strengths and use them as your starting point.

Existing systems already have value. Scrapping those systems in an attempt to design efficiently wastes that value and sets the business back before moving it forward. Focus your energy on optimization and improvement wherever possible.

3. Progress Iteratively With Feedback

Big-picture thinking is important to ensure your work remains relevant to the business, but it can be overwhelming. Divide each task into smaller steps and take the time to zoom in on each step to assess its value and efficiency.

Don’t wait to complete the job before seeking out feedback. This approach can result in hours of wasted work, particularly if a mistake is missed in the beginning stages of the process. Get feedback after every iterative step to ensure problems are solved as soon as they crop up, and that oversights can be worked in before it’s too late. Each iteration must consider the requirements of the business, the available resources, and the feasibility of the task.

Progressing iteratively with continuous evaluation ensures results are tangible, useful, and completed in a timely manner.

4. Collaborate and Promote Visibility

This principle focuses on teamwork. Each person within your IT team has their own set of strengths and weaknesses - take advantage of this variation by combining your efforts and minimizing the group’s weaknesses.

Intergroup collaboration is just as important as intragroup collaboration. At each stage of your project, you need to be interacting with and seeking feedback from people in different departments and levels within the company and exterior personnel. Involve stakeholders (such as users or department heads) and partners to receive feedback from a more external perspective.

In order to collaborate effectively, both within and without your IT team, you need to prioritise openness, honesty, and visibility. No one should be working on their section in secret! Instead, talk about your progress whether it’s good or bad. This ensures that everyone involved fully understands how far along the project is going.

5. Think and Work Holistically

Nothing that you create should stand on its own. Every product, service, or element used to provide service must fit into the existing frameworks and contribute to the overall desired outcome. Work to create new parts of an integrated and holistic system instead of creating a standalone product, or service. Use the three principles of holistic thinking to keep your goal in mind.

When planning and designing, make sure you’re considering the service and business as a whole, rather than just the need you’re meeting. Consider all the components and understand how your new project will fit into and work with them. To do this, you need a clear and in-depth understanding of every system in the business. This links back to the importance of visibility in principle #4!

6. Keep It Simple and Practical

When designing a process from scratch, or updating an existing process, keep things as simple as you possibly can. Continuously evaluate your work to ensure there aren’t unnecessary steps involved. Complicated processes have a higher chance of going wrong, and more room for error. Reduce the intricacy of all activities to contain only what is necessary.

For every project, you want to use the minimum number of steps possible to achieve your goal. Eliminate any process, step, service, or action that doesn’t add value to the company or customer.

7. Optimize and Automate

Efficiency is the key to high productivity. If you want your time at work to be spent well, look for areas that take up more energy and time than they need to. If you can automate a system, there’s no need for you to do that work manually every day.

Use your resources and the company’s resources wisely and effectively. Assign tasks to the people best fit to complete them, optimize every procedure and system, and know when to automate a task.

Begin Your ITIL 4 Training Course Today

By now you should have a deep understanding of the ITIL 4 guiding principles and the ways they shape your company to become efficient, holistic, and valuable. If these guiding principles resonated with you, why not take an ITIL 4 course today?

We offer a wide range of ITIL 4 courses, including ITIL 4 Foundation training, ITIL 4 Managing Professional Transition, as well as ITIL 4 Specialist courses for those looking to deepen their knowledge and understanding.

If you have any questions or would like more information on any of our courses, feel free to contact us today.


 Marcin Chmielewski - Blog Author 
He has extensive IT knowledge combined with enthusiasm for digital marketing.
His experience and knowledge come from many years of working for large corporations. Associated with Information Technology since the beginning of his career, he has qualifications in the fields of team management, Enterprise Architecture, IT Service Management, databases, application servers, and operating systems.
His hobbies include traveling, skiing, and hiking.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. What is ITIL 4 and why is it important?
    ITIL 4 is the latest version of the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) framework, which provides best practices for managing IT services. It is important because it helps organizations improve their IT service management processes and align them with business goals.
  2. What are the ITIL 4 guiding principles?
    The ITIL 4 guiding principles are a set of recommendations for IT service management that help organizations make decisions and take actions that are aligned with business goals. The principles include focus on value, start where you are, progress iteratively with feedback, collaborate and promote visibility, think and work holistically, keep it simple and practical, and optimize and automate.
  3. How do the ITIL 4 guiding principles benefit organizations?
    The ITIL 4 guiding principles help organizations to improve their IT service management practices by providing a set of guiding principles that can be used to make decisions and take actions that are aligned with business goals. This can result in better customer satisfaction, improved service quality, increased efficiency, and reduced costs.
  4. How can organizations implement the ITIL 4 guiding principles?
    Organizations can implement the ITIL 4 guiding principles by first understanding them and then incorporating them into their IT service management practices. This may involve reviewing and updating existing processes, training staff on the principles, and using the principles to guide decision-making and action-taking.
  5. What resources are available to help organizations learn more about the ITIL 4 guiding principles?
    There are a variety of resources available to help organizations learn more about the ITIL 4 guiding principles, including online courses, books, blogs, and consulting services. Organizations can also attend ITIL 4 training and certification courses to gain a deeper understanding of the principles and how to apply them in practice.

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