Reader's manual: ITIL 4 Practice Guide | Axelos (2024)

The general information section covers the following areas:

  • purpose and description
  • key terms and concepts
  • scope
  • practice success factors
  • key metrics.

2.1 Practice purpose and description

Each practice begins with a purpose statement. The purpose statement is a brief description of the role that the practice fills in an organization.

The purpose statement explains what may be derived from the practice, although the practical implementation of that practice may differ from what is described in ITIL 4, depending on the needs of the organization. Practices may be combined, split, or only partially implemented.

The purpose statement establishes the scope for the practice guide that follows, and the practice guide will cover all of the elements mentioned in the purpose statement.

The purpose statement is supplemented with additional descriptions of the practice. The purpose and description information align with the information that is presented in the ITIL Foundation, although additional detail may be provided in the practice guide. Table 2.1 provides some examples of purpose statements.

Table 2.1 Examples of purpose statements

Incident managementTo minimize the negative impact of incidents by restoring normal service operation as quickly as possible.
Problem managementTo reduce the likelihood and impact of incidents by identifying actual and potential causes of incidents and by managing workarounds and known errors.
Service level managementTo set clear business-based targets for service levels, and to ensure that delivery of services is properly assessed, monitored, and managed against these targets.

2.2 Terms and concepts

Each practice guide introduces key concepts that are specific to the practice being described, along with key terms and definitions. These terms and concepts are usually:

  • specific to the practice
  • important for fulfilling the purpose of the practice
  • applicable in most scenarios where the practice is applied.

Some examples are provided in Table 2.2

Table 2.2 Examples of terms and concepts

PracticeKey terms and concepts
Incident management
  • incident
  • incident model
  • workaround
Problem management
  • problem
  • known error
Service level management
  • service level
  • service quality
  • service review

Key concepts may differ in their nature and in the structure of their description. Definitions introduced in the ITIL Foundation and its associated glossary are not altered but may be amended, with further commentary, in the practice guides. Definitions introduced in the ITIL 4 Specialist and Strategist publications also match the definitions provided in the practice guides.

2.3 Scope

The scope section provides a list of activities and responsibilities that are included in the practice. It also provides a list of adjacent activities and responsibilities that are not included in the practice, with references to the practices where these activities are described.

The ITIL 4 scoping of the practices should not be treated as definitive. Organizations should adapt these recommendations, based on their scale, structures, competencies, and other factors. ITIL 4 practices may be merged or further split when institutionalized in the organization.

For example, some activities included in the scope of the change enablement practice are:

  • planning individual change workflows, activities, and controls
  • scheduling and coordinating all ongoing changes
  • communicating change plans and progress to relevant stakeholders
  • assessing change success, including outputs, outcomes, efficiency, risks, and costs.

Examples of activities that are not included in the change enablement practice are listed in Table 2.3.

Table 2.3 Examples of activities outside the scope of the change enablement practice

ActivityPractice guide
Costs control, financial evaluation of changesService financial management
Management of projectsProject management
Management of organizational changeOrganizational change management

2.4 Practice success factors

Each practice guide includes a number of Practical success factors (PSFs).

Practical success factor
A complex functional component of a practice that is required for the practice to fulfil its purpose.

The word ‘complex’ in the definition does not refer to a high level of complexity. Rather, it indicates that a PSF is more than a task or activity; it includes elements from all four dimensions of service management. A PSF can also be defined as ‘a key sub-practice’. The nature of the activities and resources of PSFs within a practice may differ, but together they ensure that the practice is effective.

Key metrics (section 2.5 of every practice guide) and capability criteria (section 7 of the practice guides updated in 2023) are based on the practice success factors.

Table 2.4 gives some examples of PSFs for various practices.

Table 2.4 Examples of practice success factors

PracticePractice success factors
Incident management
  • Detecting incidents early
  • Resolving incidents quickly and efficiently
  • Continually improving the incident management approaches
Problem management
  • Identifying and understanding problems and their impact on services
  • Optimizing problem resolution and mitigation
Service configuration management
  • Ensuring that the organization has relevant configuration information about its products and services
  • Ensuring that the costs of providing configuration information are continually optimized

2.5 Key metrics

Organizations need appropriate methods for determining the degree to which a practice is achieving its objectives, or how well the practice (or some part of it) is contributing to the SVS.

Each practice guide provides ways to measure the success of the practice through the use of key metrics.

A measurement or calculation that is monitored or reported for management and improvement

When using the practice metrics, consider the following points:

  • The effectiveness and performance of the ITIL 4 practices should be assessed within the context of the value streams that each practice contributes to. However, the practices’ potentials are defined by their design and the quality of the resources, which can be measured and assessed in any context.
  • Metrics are insufficient for assessment and decision-making. To be used as an indicator, a metric must have a pre-defined target value and may also have a tolerance. Each organization will define its own target values and tolerances; these cannot be taken from ITIL 4 or any other publication.

ITIL 4 provides sample key metrics (that may be used as indicators) and related measurement suggestions for each ITIL 4 practice. These are not prescriptive and should be adapted to each organization’s objectives and practice design.

Table 2.5 provides examples of key metrics for various practices. More details on key metrics can be found in the measurement and reporting practice guide.

Table 2.5 Examples of key metrics

PracticeKey metrics
Incident management
  • Time between incident occurrence and detection
  • User satisfaction with incident handling and resolution
Change enablement
  • Average time of change realization per change model
  • Business impact of change-related incidents
  • Stakeholder satisfaction with realization of individual changes
Service configuration management
  • Stakeholder satisfaction with configuration information
  • Stakeholder satisfaction with service configuration management interfaces, procedures, and reports

  • Percentage of CMDB data verified over the period

3. Value streams and processes

4. Organizations and people

5. Information and technology

6. Partners and suppliers

7. Capability assessment and development

8. Recommendations for the practice success

9. Acknowledgements and feedback

Reader's manual: ITIL 4 Practice Guide | Axelos (2024)


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