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The Guiding Principles For ITIL Practitioners

itsm best practices: knowledge management

ITIL Principles Put Into Action at the Service Desk

It shouldn’t need to be said that your Service Desk is the nexus of your communication with both internal and external stakeholders, your customers, and your entire organization. Keeping that in mind, it is easy to see why the work of your Service Desk agents needs to embody the spirit of the Guiding Principles for ITIL Practitioners, and to put them into practice by delivering the best in ITSM from the Service Desk.  But understanding ITIL principles and knowing how to put them into practice can be very different things, especially given the continual pressures faced by your Service desk. Thankfully, with a few handy examples of how service desk agents can use an ITIL practitioner’s guiding principles, putting ITIL principles into action can become a learned behavior, and eventually second nature for your team. For those of you counting, with the release of ITIL 4, the number of guiding principles has gone from nine to seven. Below, we will provide an overview of these seven guiding principles as outlined in ITIL 4.

1 - Focus on Value

As a service desk agent, everything you do and say should be grounded in maximizing the value you, your organization, and your team offers your customers. This is not to say that the customer does not define value, but there are commonalities to what many customers value that ITIL practitioners can focus on, namely:
  • Reduced pain in the achievement of objectives
  • Service value or affordability—reduced costs coupled with improved productivity
  • Improved competitive position over time, given the circumstances of business

2 - Start Where You Are

Starting where you are may seem daunting. But putting this ITIL principle into action is more about building on what you already have in place than it is about reinventing your service with every change you implement. Identify where you are excelling, where you’re barely cutting it, and areas that need more work. Focus on building toward where you want to be by relying on what you’re already doing well as you address change gradually.

3 - Progress Iteratively with Feedback

There are so many clichés that attempt to illustrate this principle, and each of them is valid to a certain degree. Progress is a journey of infinite miles that is accomplished one shovelful at a time. Actually, progress is just that – progress toward an optimal goal that is never fully realized. And, because of this nature, real progress is made more in small improvements than enormous projects. Use feedback before, throughout, and after to ensure changes are focused and appropriate. 

4 - Collaborate and Promote Visibility

It is well past time to tear down the silos. Get your teams together, and get them to collaborate; they will be happier for it (in the long run), and considerably more productive. Everyone on your team, and to some degree, everyone in your organization, should know what is happening and for what purpose. Do not hide things from your team – oftentimes, you’ll notice that the more someone understands the reasoning behind why the company is making a change, the more likely you are to get their buy-in. If something warrants action, the more people who know and understand the situation, the better. Well-informed collaborators do less to obstruct and more to help than those kept in the dark. 

5 - Think and Work Holistically

It can be very hard to keep yourself, your team, and even your organization looking at the big picture and not simply focusing on the change you’re managing, the incident you’re dealing with, or the problem you’re working on at the moment. In order to achieve maximum value for all stakeholders, you need to broaden your perspective to include the entire value chain, from one end to the other, improving what you do in a complementary fashion that doesn’t trade off success for compromised service.

6 - Keep It Simple and Practical

Another axiom that is repeated to the point of becoming cliché, yet a powerful truth, nonetheless. If a process fails to provide value, eliminate it. The outcome needs to provide results. As it’s been said time and time again, sometimes the most value is created when you focus on improving the simplest of things. 

7 - Optimize and Automate

When it comes to optimizing and automating, keep in mind the other guiding principles. Before you optimize, you should simplify or else you will be less likely to achieve your desired outcome. Don't just automate for the sake of automating. Map out your standard and repeat processes, define your metrics and measure achievements. Measurements should be outcome-based and focused on value.

Putting Principles Into Action

Building value through the consistent application of ITIL principles is not terribly complicated. The value proposition is inherent in the principles themselves. It may take a bit of effort to assimilate them into practice at the IT Service Desk, but the rewards are definitely worth it – for both you and your customers.      This post was updated on November 14, 2019 to reflect the most up-to-date information following the 2019 release of ITIL 4.
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Jason Yeary
Jason Yeary is a technical expert for SolarWinds Service Desk customers and a former service desk manager in the healthcare industry. He is ITIL 4…
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