ITIL 3 vs. ITIL 4: An Inside Look at the Key Differences

The Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) is a collection of best practices for IT service management (ITSM) developed over the past 20 years. ITIL 3 generated excitement because it intended to bring together all known best practices in ITSM into one comprehensive framework.

The newly released ITIL 4 is essentially a subset of ITIL 3 with some changes in wording and execution but no significant differences in content. 

So, what does this new release mean for organizations expecting the latest version of ITIL to contain all best practices? What does it mean for adopters who have already invested heavily in ITIL 3?

Critical differences between ITIL 3 and ITIL 4

Here are the four crucial differences between the ITIL 3 and ITIL 4 frameworks.

From service lifecycle to the service value system

ITIL 3 featured a five-phase service-focused lifecycle. Instead of focusing solely on these aspects, ITIL 4 adds value through service. This change aims to focus on constant evolutions in service that enhance productivity and practical value.

From processes to practices

ITIL 3 featured twenty-six processes that each fell into one of the five sections of the service lifecycle. In ITIL 4, those twenty-six processes are now thirty-four practices broken down into three categories: service, general, and technical.

Making the practices easier to understand but not creating an atmosphere of obligation enhances evolution. This change occurred as some practices were merged into other processes while others were eradicated.

From ITIL guiding principles to guiding principles for service management

In ITIL 4, the seven guiding principles for service management have evolved into more light-handed recommendations. The goal here is to use these tips when they are conducive to overall growth instead of dogmatically following a set of rules. 

The seven guiding principles are: focus on value, progress iteratively with feedback, start where you are, collaborate and promote visibility, keep it simple, think and work holistically and practically, and optimize and automate.

While this entry may seem like a simple change, it has allowed significant changes to “inform” these individual guiding principles.

It is essential to look at each of these guiding principles not as a solution but as an idea.

The four Ps to the four dimensions of service management

In ITIL 3, the four Ps focused on service. In ITIL 4, the four Ps have expanded into four dimensions: strategy, design and transition, operation, and continual improvement. 

These dimensions are the backbone of positive and applicable attitudes that will enhance service management.

Wrapping up

The overall goal of the ITIL 4 is to create an atmosphere that focuses on interpersonal collaboration to enhance IT service management in today’s business environment by removing barriers and promoting growth.

The goal is to create an open atmosphere that constantly evolves and improves based on customer feedback. The evolution from ITIL 3 to ITIL 4 is a positive change towards these principles because it highlights the humans rather than the machines at the center of information technology. 

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