What is the ITIL Life Cycle?

IT Service Management is at the core of every organizationā€™s operations these days. The top reasons for this trend are growing digital transformation, automation, adoption of cloud services, information explosion, and value creation. Moreover, data has become a crucial asset of an organization and now acts as the wheel that drives the success and achievement of its objectives. Data processes, along with data generation, collection, and processing, are a function of IT services. Companies strive to derive optimal value for such IT services, data, and other important organizational service assets. In doing so, they employ appropriate management approaches, tools, and frameworks.

An effective service management framework that defines the practices and processes that organizations can implement to achieve efficiency and predictable service levels is ITIL. A shorthand for Information Technology Infrastructure Library, ITIL brings together an organizationā€™s IT services and processes, organizational departments and teams, and other elements to integrate and work in tandem. It is a set of best practices used to deliver IT services and standardize the selection, planning, delivery, and support of IT services. Enterprises adopt ITIL to realize their business benefits faster with defined processes and enabled by the appropriate technology.   

If you want to familiarize yourself with the general concepts, elements, and terminologies used in the ITIL Service Lifecycle, then you should pursue the ITIL foundation certification administered by AXELOS. It will help sharpen your ITIL skills and start a promising career in IT service management. But before doing so, you should be aware of the ITIL lifecycle or, in other words, the ITIL service lifecycle. 

The ITIL Service Lifecycle

Similar to business processes and products, IT services too have lifecycles. They basically define how the services will be initiated and maintained. Organizations that do not follow the service lifecycle are not able to implement and manage the IT services with optimal efficiency and efficacy. It allows service organizations to envision, design, agree, deliver, support, and enhance their clientsā€™ IT and business services. The ITIL v3 best practice guide is designed around the concept of a service lifecycle. Corresponding to the five ITIL v3 publications, there are five stages of the service lifecycle.

  • Service Strategy
  • Service Design
  • Service Transition
  • Service Operation
  • Continual Service Improvement (CSI)

Let us take a closer look at what these stages involve.

Service Strategy

The Service Strategy stage focuses on meeting an organizationā€™s business outcomes by defining the perspective, positions, plans, and patterns to be executed by a service provider. The strategy is often based on the current market scenario and tries to provide a cost-effective solution for service management without compromising the quality of the service being offered to the end-users. Adopting service strategy techniques and principles can help companies ensure that their IT teams are aligned with the business as a whole and not just take care of technical concerns. 

Service Design

The design process is crucial to the continued improvement and development of services within the IT lifecycle. This phase is about the design of services and all supporting elements for introduction to the live environment. When designing a service, here are the 4 Ps that should be taken into consideration – People, Processes, Products, Partners. It provides guidance on how to build and launch products and services that will meet the immediate and ongoing needs of companies and programs. Service design delivers measurable business value, including strategic decision-making, reduced costs, better service quality, and improved processes.

Service Transition

Service transition is crucial for managing changes flexibly and delivering improvement to services provided by programmes of work or organizations. It ensures that there is minimal impact on the business by defining a structured process for managing and transitioning service changes. Curating service knowledge and managing service risk is integral to service transition. This stage makes it a priority to ensure seamless implementation of services with repeatable processes for future transitions. One of the major challenges involved in service transition is changing peopleā€™s behavior to accommodate a different or new service.

Service Operation

This stage focuses on the processes, principles, operational activities, and functions that help organizations successfully manage how their products and services perform. It ensures that there is coordination and execution of activities that can enable the ongoing management and operation of the services implemented during the strategy, design, and transition stages of the life cycle. The key factors in service operation are service experience and consumerization. The goal here is to maintain day-to-day services to the point where there are no issues. Service Operation emphasizes the importance of measuring the experience from a user perspective rather than monitoring all discrete infrastructure components. 

Continual Service Improvement (CSI)

This stage focuses on offering a mechanism for making the IT services efficient and valuable through constant feedback and improving their service levels and technology executed to deliver the services. Here, the organization identifies which metrics out of the various ones created on a daily basis should be monitored. It is accomplished by identifying the Critical Success Factors (CSFs) for each service or process. Such a process not only helps in removing existing roadblocks from the project but also keeps it in consistency with customer requirements.

Curious to know more about ITIL? Why not take up an ITIL training course and learn everything from scratch!