A New Operating Framework For Turbulent Times

Blog Post • Industry Insights, Product Spotlight •

Bill Gates predicted during a TED talk back in 2015 that the world would soon face a global crisis of enormous proportions. He warned that the biggest looming threat was not massive nuclear war, but rather a tiny virus — one we had not previously seen. He suggested that governments and organizations of all types should consider:

  • The impact of previous epidemics and pandemics, and how a new pandemic would visit havoc on the world population, economies, and people’s well being;
  • How we should plan and invest in medical corps that could partner with the military, and bring rapid medical help to areas affected;
  • How to invest in R&D to more rapidly develop treatments for a new virus never before seen.

Rather than relying on the traditional approach of slowly reacting to crises, we should behave differently. Organizations have to move more rapidly to a new operating model — one that assumes a dynamic, unpredictable, rapidly changing environment. That assumes rapid response and delivery is the norm, rather than the exception. Proactivity and a capacity to plan and anticipate can make a significant difference. Becoming faster to adopt new business models, and invest in new ways to respond to unexpected situations, should be deemed a priority.

The Traditional Approach is No Longer Sufficient for Most Organizations

My view is that too many organizations are still operating with a “traditional” business model that assumes:

  • Slowly reacting to a dramatic change is good enough;
  • The environment, the legal system, the political environment, and the economy are all relatively stable over time;
  • That a structured, “waterfall” approach to planning, development, and deployment is sufficient to deal with sudden and unpredictable demand for products and services, or new/changed opportunities.

While it may be true that some organizations can rely on a relatively stable external environment for the planning, design, and production of their products and services, the fact of the matter is that the world is rapidly becoming a different “playing field”, one with:

  • Dynamic and fast-changing external factors, such as political, social, and economic changes;
  • Interdependent organizations that rely on a network of suppliers and vendors to plan, design, develop, deliver and support their products and services;
  • A digital economy, where most business transactions transpire over mobile devices;
  • Rising customer expectations in terms of speed, quality, and price for the products/services they consume.

How the ITIL®4 Framework Can Enable Organizations to Rise to Such Challenges

ITIL 4, the new “operating framework” for the fast-changing world we are moving into, was introduced by AXELOS in February 2019, after several years of development by thousands of contributors, and several task forces of designers. This best-practice business and IT framework is now being rapidly rolled out across the globe, with increasing adoption by all types of governments, businesses, and organizations.

As a new business model and operating framework, ITIL 4 includes several characteristics that can help organizations of all types more quickly and effectively deal with unforeseen challenges such as a pandemic:

  • PESTLE – External factors which must be closely monitored for their potential impact;
  • The Service Value System (SVS) – A system of interacting components that can be combined in different ways to quickly respond and produce products and services to meet changes in demand or opportunities;
  • The Four Dimensions of Service Management – the four aspects that must be considered when designing and developing an effective, “holistic” solution.

Monitoring the PESTLE Environmental Factors

ITIL 4 stresses the need for an organization to continually monitor the PESTLE factors. These should be carefully monitored as they can trigger the need for a new product/service, or a change in an existing service offering.

P – Political factors

A crisis such as a pandemic can impact the local, state and national government, and the manner in which they operate. Which in turn can directly or indirectly affect businesses and organizations to comply with new laws, regulations, or guidelines;

E – Economic factors

The economy may be adversely affected rather quickly by a pandemic crisis. This may mean shifting to online rather than in-person services, or delivering products to customers rather than requiring them to come to pick them up;

S – Social factors

Due to the rise in the popularity of social media by consumers, an organization must now pay close attention to the impact that such channels of communication have on demand for its products/services;

T – Technological factors

New advances in technology, such as diagnostic tests and ultimately vaccines for such viral outbreaks, will affect consumers behavior, and demand for new or modified products and services;

L – Legal factors

An organization must continually monitor the local, state, and national legal environments for any new laws or regulations which might impact their service provision. For example, new rules/regulations may require the business to change its operating hours, require staff to wear masks, or modify the way it distributes products/services;

E – Environmental factors

The virus itself is a key driver for these other factors, as well as a rapidly changing and evolving factor in the external environment. All organizations must pay close attention to the status of the infection, and its migration and growth.

Unless an organization is continually monitoring these external factors, it may fall victim to missing an opportunity for a new product/service, may fail to adjust its product/service offerings, or may miss out on the opportunity to meet shifting market demand. The business or organization may ultimately fail as a result.

The Service Value System and the Four Dimensions of Service Management

In contrast to a slow “traditional waterfall” approach, ITIL 4 is based on a Service Value System (SVS), a system of interacting components that can be combined in different ways to quickly take advantage of any new demand or opportunities in the external environment:

  • The SVS is composed of a set of five key elements: 1) Guiding Principles which help direct sensible actions and improve decision making in all circumstances; 2) Governance, which ensures alignment with the external environment, and internal alignment of organizational departments to products goods and services that enable value 3) a Service Value Chain, the heart of the SVS, which acts as a core operating model to quickly respond to any new or changing demand and produce products and services quickly to meet that new demand or opportunity; supporting 4) Practices, which empower the Service Value Chain to deliver quality products and services; and 5) Continual Improvement, which ensures that the organization, its services, products, and supporting practices are always improving to meet new challenges.
  • Considering the increasing pace of business and technology change,  the transition to a new “digital economy”, and the increasing use of mobile devices to conduct business, it makes sense that organizations move to a new “systems” approach rather than remain on a slow, “traditional” planned approach. ITIL 4 is just the new “systems approach” that is needed to meet such challenges.
  • To survive and thrive, organizations must transition to a new “operating framework”, which requires them to continually monitor these external factors, quickly respond to any change in market demand and opportunities, collaborate more fully internally and externally, and focus on using their capabilities to deliver products and services that enable real “value” for stakeholders.

Based on AXELOS ITIL® Foundation (ITIL® 4 edition), 2019 material. Reproduced under license from AXELOS Limited. All rights reserved.

ITIL 4 also includes the Four Dimensions of Service Management. These four areas must be considered whenever reflecting on how to react to a change in demand or opportunities in the external environment so that a “holistic” solution can be properly provided for.

  • Rather than just assume that a minor change in an existing product or service will do, considering the four dimensions of how to react and satisfy the demand effectively ensures a quality solution;
  • It is especially important to consider the Four Dimensions when devising a response to the challenges brought on by such an external factor as the Coronavirus. An organization must consider Organizations and People – how its own organization should respond, and how its people will be affected, as well as its partner organizations, and consumers. How it will use Information and Technology also must be considered – for example, leveraging email, chat, and video channels to inform customers about any changes in its products/services which might help them cope; Partners and Suppliers must be consulted and coordinated with so that an effective response can be marshaled and driven by the organization; finally, the organization must consider its existing Value Streams and Processes, and modify these as necessary to expedite the provision of new products and services to enable customers to deal with the crisis.

Based on AXELOS ITIL® Foundation (ITIL® 4 edition), 2019 material. Reproduced under license from AXELOS Limited. All rights reserved.

As a new operating framework, ITIL 4 also integrates key aspects from other emerging best-practices that have taken hold over the last decade. These complementary best-practices have been well integrated into ITIL 4 so that organizations can use ITIL 4 as the overall framework, and these other practices to address certain specific areas – all working seamlessly together. These complementary practices include:

  • Lean practices such as those advocated by the Lean IT Association, which underscore the importance of doing the minimal number of steps to produce something, eliminating “waste”, and delivering value;
  • Agile development practices, which emphasize speed, quality, and time to market;
  • DevOps, which emphasizes collaboration and cooperation between organizational departments, especially development and operations.

The DevOps Agile Skills Association (DASA) is a global community renowned for the development of DevOps and Agile skills, enabling organizations to increase the quality and speed of delivering solutions to customers.

Don’t Delay Your ITIL 4 Adoption

ITIL 4 is the new operating framework for governments, organizations, and businesses of all types, enabling them to quickly and effectively deal with sudden massive changes in the environment.

Regardless of whether those changes are political, economic, social, technological, legal, or the result of a terrible virus unleashed in the environment such as COVID-19, with ITIL 4, an organization can effectively monitor the changing environment and respond quickly with quality products and services. Its integral support of Agile, Lean, DevOps, and other best-practices, also enables organizations to quickly bring new products and services to market, delivering fast relief to consumers, thereby equipping organizations to thrive in the fast-paced, interdependent, digital world we now find ourselves in.

About the author

Paul Dooley
ITIL Expert, HDI and ITIL Instructor, ITSM Consultant, Author

With over 30 years of experience in high technology and IT services and support, Paul has held numerous positions in IT support services and service marketing. Experience includes delivery of front line technical support (levels 1, 2 and 3), support team lead, international support manager, manager of service business development, support marketing manager and director of solutions marketing.

Paul is the current President and Principal Consultant at Optimal Connections, LLC, which delivers IT service and support training and consulting services to businesses and organizations of all types. For more information visit www.optimalconnections.com.

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