…We’ve discussed it many times with my colleagues and students but somehow there hasn’t been an occasion to write the whole picture down. So here it is – seeming to bу quite contradictory to what ITIL says and in some particular aspects even heterodox.
The service lifecycle
While evolving from version 2 to version 3 ITIL has renamed groups of processes, sometimes without any changes to the content of those groups. The cycle formed via this transformation looks quite reasonable until one comes to details of the processes. He or she would find many questionable areas not only relating a process itself but also in regard to its role in the phase and in the whole cycle.
First of all, naming all five parts of the model as lifecycle phases ITIL confuses anyone who had ever looked in a vocabulary for what phase means. Service strategy and continual service improvement are not phases, are they? These elements of the model are vitally important but this fact doesn’t make them phases of the cycle. So when I say service lifecycle I mean three phases that form it:
Personally I wouldn’t form the cycle this way but let’s consider the grouping as given – just because the books exist and the processes are packed the way they are. Having them packed this way we can only write proper notes on each package. I’m sure that processes in each group are capable to achieve common goals. There are three clear goals for each group and they are a bit different from those stated in the books.
Service design & delivery
This process group jointly ensures:
Note: In other models some of the processes migrated from this group to another but in ITIL they just hide some important duties over “design” title.
Service transition & control
These processes are responsible for:
Note: These goal statements don’t cover knowledge management process but in this case I would insist that it is because the process is in a wrong place, not because the goals are incomplete.
Service operation & support
Well, processes in this book are still mostly regard support but nevertheless with a little help of so-called “common operational activities” they try to do the following:
Note: some processes described in service operation book don’t seem to be processes at all. I mean event management which is clearly a function (if we do insist it is a process, the need for consistency makes us to recognize Service desk as a process as well) and access management.
The last note needs to clarify the distinction between processes and functions a little. I’m sure that these terms are mixed up in ITIL. It may sound strange but the reason they are mixed up is the improved standardized structure of the books.
All processes in ITIL are described following the same structure. In fact it means they are described using the same titles and sub-titles but it is a great improvement beside to what we had in version 2. But common structure brings common errors or ambiguities if possess ones.
Every process has something entitled “goal/purpose/objective”. I consider it as a source of confusion:
Trying to define both goal and purpose for a process one steps into a trap. Check chapters 4.n.1 in any ITIL book to see how authors have managed to overcome it.
I have mentioned this fundamental distinction (which is quite obvious and widely discussed) just to show why I’m sure that both event management and access management are functions providing specific functionality to various processes in exactly the same manner that other functions do.
Fit for life
All these comments are not vitally important to real-life service management practice. But as a trainer I have to look for a consistent big picture for service management system and ITIL doesn’t always provide one. So what do you think? Do you find ITIL service lifecycle complete and consistent? If not – what would you change and why?