What are the Differences Between ITIL 3 and ITIL 4?

By Lumify Learn Team  |  August 2, 2023

Have you encountered the term "ITIL"? If you work in IT or you've been looking to get a role in IT service management, you may have come across the term. ITIL stands for Information Technology Infrastructure Library and is a set of best practices that helps organisations deliver high-quality IT services that meet the needs and expectations of their customers.

ITIL has a long history that goes back to the 1980s when it was first developed by the UK government. Since then, ITIL has gone through several updates and revisions to keep up with the changing trends and challenges in the IT industry.

In this blog, you will learn about the ITIL 3 and ITIL 4 frameworks and the benefits of taking Lumify Learn’s IT Service Management Professional (ITIL® 4) boot camp course.


ITIL 3 Framework

ITIL 3, also known as ITIL 2011, is the previous version of the ITIL framework widely adopted by organisations worldwide. It provides a structured approach to managing IT services and offers a set of best practices that help organisations deliver efficient and effective IT services.

ITIL 3 encompasses a comprehensive framework for IT service management and is built upon a set of key concepts that shape its principles and practices:

  • Service: A service refers to the value delivered to customers by meeting their specific needs. It can be a tangible product or an intangible deliverable, such as technical support or a software application.

  • Process: A process is a set of coordinated activities designed to achieve specific outcomes. It involves inputs, activities, and outputs, and follows a defined sequence of steps to accomplish its objectives.

  • Function: Functions represent organisational units or teams responsible for carrying out specific activities within an IT service management process. For example, the service desk is a function responsible for handling incidents and service requests.

ITIL 3 provides a systematic approach to managing IT services, resulting in improved service quality and enhanced operational efficiency. By adopting it, organisations can streamline their processes, eliminate redundancies, and meet customer needs more effectively, resulting in enhanced customer satisfaction.

However, implementing and sustaining ITIL 3 in practice can be challenging, as it requires resources and expertise that an organisation may lack or find costly. Additionally, ITIL 3 may not always offer the flexibility needed to accommodate rapidly changing business requirements and emerging technologies.

ITIL 4 framework

To bring a more modern approach to IT service management, ITIL 4 was launched in 2019. ITIL 4 provides a comprehensive and integrated framework that encompasses the Service Value System (SVS), guiding principles, and the Service Value Chain (SVC) to deliver value-driven IT services efficiently and effectively.

The development of ITIL 4 was driven by several factors. Firstly, ITIL 4 aims to address the challenges posed by digital transformation. With emerging technologies, increased complexity, and evolving business demands, ITIL 4 provides a framework that enables organisations to effectively navigate the digital landscape.

Secondly, ITIL 4 seeks to enhance alignment with modern practices. It acknowledges the importance of other frameworks and methodologies, such as Agile, DevOps, and Lean, and aims to integrate them seamlessly. Lastly, ITIL 4 places a strong emphasis on customer-centricity. Recognising the significance of customer experience in today's business landscape, ITIL 4 shifts the focus towards delivering value by prioritising customer outcomes, promoting collaboration, and fostering engagement.

What are the key differences between ITIL 3 and ITIL 4?

The transition from ITIL 3 to ITIL 4 brings significant changes to the framework. Let's explore their key differences:

Structure and organisation

ITIL 3 follows a service lifecycle approach, consisting of five stages:

  1. Service Strategy: This stage focuses on understanding the organisation's objectives and customer needs to develop a strategic approach for delivering services that create value.

  2. Service Design: In this stage, services are designed to meet the requirements defined in the service strategy. It involves designing service offerings, processes, architectures, and metrics to ensure effective service delivery.

  3. Service Transition: Here, you’ll perform activities related to transitioning services from the design stage to the operational stage. It involves change management, release and deployment management, and knowledge management.

  4. Service Operation: This stage focuses on the day-to-day management and delivery of IT services. It includes incident management, problem management, event management, and request fulfilment.

  5. Continual Service (CS) Improvement: In this stage, there is emphasis on the ongoing evaluation and improvement of services. It involves collecting feedback, identifying areas for improvement, and implementing changes to enhance service quality.

In contrast, ITIL 4 introduces a more holistic and integrated approach with the Service Value System (SVS) at its core. The SVS encompasses components such as the:

  • Service Value Chain: This represents a flexible and modular approach to value creation, consisting of interconnected activities that organisations can adapt and prioritise based on their specific needs and objectives.

  • Guiding principles: ITIL 4 incorporates guiding principles that serve as fundamental beliefs and values for effective service management:

    • Focus on value

    • Start where you are

    • Progress iteratively with feedback

    • Collaborate and promote visibility

    • Think and work holistically

    • Keep it simple and practical

    • Optimise and automate

  • Practices: This refers to a set of organisational resources and guidance for performing work or accomplishing an objective.

  • Governance: This concept emphasises the need for effective oversight and control to ensure the delivery of value. It provides a framework for establishing policies, procedures, and decision-making processes to guide the organisation in managing services and achieving strategic objectives.

  • Continual improvement: This is a key component of the ITIL 4 framework. It emphasises the importance of ongoing evaluation and enhancement of services, processes, and practices. By constantly seeking opportunities for improvement, organisations can adapt to changing business needs and deliver greater value to customers.

These components of the Service Value System in ITIL 4 enhance the overall effectiveness and flexibility of the framework, enabling organisations to deliver value-driven IT services in a dynamic and evolving business environment.

Changes in terminology

When going through learning materials, you may notice how ITIL 3 uses the term "processes" to describe the activities involved in managing IT services, while ITIL 4 introduces the concept of "practices." Practices expand beyond processes to include broader capabilities and approaches to service management. This change in terminology signifies a more flexible and adaptive mindset in ITIL 4, encouraging organisations to leverage a wider range of methods and tools.

Introduction of new practices

ITIL 4 introduces a range of new practices to meet the evolving needs of the industry. These new practices include Service Request Management, Service Desk, and Service Level Management, among others. Each practice offers unique competencies and strategies to enhance service delivery and customer satisfaction.

By incorporating these new practices, ITIL 4 promotes a more customer-centric approach, empowering organisations to provide services that align more closely with their customers' requirements and preferences.

Focus on end-to-end value delivery in ITIL 4

ITIL 3 primarily focuses on managing individual stages of the service lifecycle, with an emphasis on process execution. In contrast, ITIL 4 places a stronger focus on end-to-end value delivery by integrating activities across the entire Service Value Chain. The Service Value Chain promotes collaboration and coordination among different stages and functions, enabling organisations to deliver value efficiently and effectively.

Why should you study ITIL?

Studying ITIL offers a wide range of benefits, empowering associate level IT professionals or career changers with the skills and knowledge to take on a role in IT Service Management. For example, it can:

  • Increase your earning potential and career opportunities, as ITIL certifications are highly regarded in the IT industry and ranked among the most valuable qualifications.

  • Enhance your productivity and efficiency by learning how to optimise and automate IT processes, reduce operational costs, and improve service delivery.

  • Develop stronger customer relationships and satisfaction by taking a more professional approach to service delivery, understanding customer needs, and providing consistent and accurate performance metrics.

  • Manage risks better by following best practices for IT service management, reducing errors, incidents, and disruptions, and ensuring compliance with regulations and standards.

  • Communicate better with other IT experts by speaking a common language with them, facilitating greater collaboration, role flexibility, and a comprehensive understanding of internal IT operations.

Start your ITIL journey today!

Explore Lumify Learn’s IT Service Management Professional boot camp course, a 3-month program developed to equip you with the essentials of ITIL. Immerse yourself in the core concepts, principles, and practices of the ITIL 4 Foundation framework, setting the foundation for achieving globally-recognised certification. This course will help you develop in-demand skills, positioning you for a rewarding career in technology project management.

Bring your IT knowledge to new heights. Enquire with us about the course today.

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