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​What Are The 9 Guiding Principles Of ITIL® V3?

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Adopting a customer-focused and service-orientated approach to IT is not an easy path for many organisations, especially when they have been technology or product focused for many years.

Successful adoption of a service-orientated approach relies on a major cultural shift and a refocus on the business outcomes that the business and our customers need to achieve.

To achieve this cultural shift requires a change of mind-set from those within IT.

To aid this mind-set change, we have documented the 9 guiding principles which have been distilled from the core ITIL® Best Practice.

Having said that, these principle are not specific to ITIL®, and you can see them applied across many methods, frameworks, models, methodologies, bodies of knowledge and philosophies.

To support the learning of these 9 guiding principles, AXELOS have produced a series of entertaining videos which show how these ITIL principles can be applied to any service management decision, and help show the way to proceed with any change management initiative or challenging project.

So if you want to find out more about the 9 Guiding Principles of ITIL® Practitioner and how they can be used in real-life scenarios, then keep watching and reading.

What Are The 9 ITIL Principles?

1. Focus on Value
2. Design for Experience
3. Start Where You Are
4. Work Holistically
5. Progress Iteratively
6. Observe Directly
7. Be Transparent
8. Collaborate
9. Keep It Simple

Now, let's look at each one in more detail.

1. Focus on Value

This short animation shows how applying the Focus on Value guiding principle of ITIL® Practitioner helped a business increase its customer satisfaction levels and improve its performance.

By focusing on the value of the business, they were able to design solutions that met customer needs and improved internal and external feedback.

ITIL® Service Strategy states that ‘the value of a service comes from what it enables someone to do’.

The characteristics of value are defined as:

  • Being defined by the customer.
  • An affordable mix of features.
  • Achievement of objectives.
  • Changing over time and circumstances.

Service value can come in many forms, such as:

  • Increased productivity.
  • Reduced pain.
  • Reduced cost.
  • Ability to pursue new opportunities.
  • Better competitive position etc.

(Before we continue, you might find our ITIL® v4 Foundation training interesting to take a look at).

2. Design for Experience

In this scenario, the CIO and Head of ITSM at a company discuss the need to reduce the number of calls to their Service Desk.

They decide to create a Service Request Catalogue, but their problems persist until the company applied the ITIL® Practitioner Guiding Principle Design for Experience.

Following consultation with and input from end users, the company designed a service catalogue based on user needs and experience.

Use of the revised service request catalogue increased, reducing costs and improving services for the company.

Effective end-to-end user experience (UX) and customer experience (CX) is critical to service success.

The key is to identify the touchpoints that the users and customers have with the service provider and identify which are having a negative impact.

Prioritising the areas for improvement will identify the areas to start working on first.

(Click here if you want to find out more about our service request management training course).

3. Start Where You Are

This short animation shows how the ‘Start Where You Are’ Guiding Principle of ITIL® Practitioner, can help organisations successfully implement change through establishing a configuration management system.

Applying this principle enables the organisation to identify the areas they need to address and establish tighter controls around IT assets and configuration items.

It’s not always about ripping out the old and starting from scratch or about reinventing the wheel, neither is it about achieving everything tomorrow.

It’s really about gradually building on what you already have.

To achieve this principle successfully:

  • Look at what already exists as objectively as possible.
  • Build on examples of successful practices and determine if and how these can be replicated or expanded upon.
  • Apply risk management skillls.
  • Recognise that occasionally there is nothing to build upon and you will have to start from scratch.

4. Work Holistically

No service or component stands alone. The results delivered to the organisation or customer will suffer unless the service provider works on the whole, not just on the parts.

All elements must be coordinated to provide a defined value.

To achieve this you will need to work holistically by considering all aspects of the service.

In Service Design you are asked to consider the 4P’s (People, Process, Products and Partners), ensuring all aspects of a service are considered not just one or two.

5. Progress Iteratively

Even huge initiatives have to be accomplished iteratively. Resist the temptation to do everything at once.

By organising work into smaller, manageable sections the focus on each smaller improvement is easier to maintain and ensures that real results are returned in a timely manner and built upon to create more improvement.

Accurate scoping is essential to ensure that we are always delivering value to the customer.

Making use of the concept of Minimum Viable Product (MVP), this can help with achieving SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-Bound) objectives.

Each improvement (whether service of process) should have a focused objective and scope that will allow it to be effectively and efficiently completed.

Iterative progression is central to the Agile methodology and the use of Scrum techniques ensuring that value is delivered to the business and customers on a continual basis.

6. Observe Directly

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To know what is really going on, measure and/or observe it directly.

Going to the source allows a reduction in the use of assumptions which, if proved unfounded, can be disastrous to timelines, budgets and the quality of results.

Poorly designed metrics can give the wrong impression and also drive the wrong type of behaviour from support staff who become fixated on hitting targets rather than delivering value.

Poor monitoring, measuring and reporting will provide the wrong information on which to base business decisions.

For using measurement and metrics with this principle remember these important provisos:

  • Data is not a substitute for direct observation.
  • Extrapolated data can lie.
  • Do not just measure; analyse.

Observation also involves asking questions, particularly the ‘Why?’ question.

Even asking the stupid questions. Observation directly also allows for the reduction in the use of assumptions which if proved unfounded can lead to disastrous results.

7. Be Transparent

The more that people are aware of what is happening and why it is happening, then the more that people will help and fewer people will obstruct.

Make things as transparent as possible.

Transparency in many organisations will require a shift in culture.

The aim is to become open and honest within teams and especially with your customers.

Being kept in the dark can lead to speculation and resistance to change if objectives and impacts aren’t clearly understood.

Another aspect of transparency is to ensure that accomplishments are also communicated and celebrated.

Using CSI registers to support transparency can be a valuable way ensure that everyone knows why improvement initiatives are being followed and how they will be impacted or how they can contribute.

8. Collaborate

When the right people are involved in the right ways, improvements benefit from better buy-in, better relevance (because better information is available for decision-making) and better likelihood of long-term success.

Aristotle said that, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”

In other words, when individual parts are connected together to form one entity, they are worth more than if the parts were in silos.

The efforts of individuals working together in a collaborative way will far surpass the efforts of them working separately.

Collaborative working also allows us to share concepts and ideas and support one another, it is also an underpinning principle of the Agile methodology and Scrum.

Good and effective communication is essential for developing a collaborative culture.

The scope of collaboration will also depend on the scope and impact of the change in question. If there is no impact upstream or downstream then the degree of collaboration will be less.

9. Keep It Simple

If a process, service, action, metric etc. provides no value or produces no useful outcome, then eliminate it. In a process or procedure, use the minimum number of steps needed to accomplish the objective(s).

Overly complex work methods rarely maximize outcomes or minimize cost.

You may have heard of the term KISS (Keep It Simple and Structured). Well its good advice.

The more complex a service, system or process is, the more there is to go wrong with it.

Keeping things simple and removing ‘waste’ (i.e. anything that doesn’t add value), are underpinning tenants of the Lean method.

Another approach can be to ask yourself “Is this fit for purpose and fit for use?”

You do have to be careful when ‘removing waste’ as what one person sees as unnecessary or over-complicated may actually be there to ensure regulatory compliance or manage security controls.

Consider the use of automation to reduce manual effort especially where there is scope for human error or potential avoidance.

So what’s next?

If the content above has sparked your interest in exploring these 9 guiding principles further, then you’ll be glad to hear that they are covered in depth on the ITIL® Practitioner training course

The ITIL® Practitioner training course also:

  • Provides practical guidance on how individuals can leverage Continual Service Improvement (CSI) to maximize the benefits of adoption and adaption of ITIL®.
  • Aims to improve the capability of individuals throughout the business, to adopt and adapt ITIL® in their day-to-day roles to generate maximum business benefits.
  • Makes use of technological capabilities, such as automation, real-time reporting and Cloud computing, to increase the quality of service design and the efficiency of service delivery.
  • Leverages other frameworks and good practices and methodologies - such as Lean, DevOps, Agile and SIAM - to further enhance the value of ITSM.

If this post about ITIL principles has inspired you to consider moving beyond an ITIL® Foundation level of knowledge, or if you are accredited to Intermediate level or even Expert level, but want a more practical focus to your IT Service Management skillset, then seriously consider the ITIL® Practitioner course.

Why not contact one of our Account Managers on [email protected] or phone 01539 736828 to discuss your options.

ITIL® is a registered trade mark of AXELOS limited, used under permission of AXELOS Limited. All rights reserved.

Purple Griffon is a trading name of Purple Griffon Ltd. ©2002-2016 Purple Griffon Ltd - a BCS, Peoplecert, ITAMorg, DevOps Institute and APMG accredited training organisation

About The Author

Steve Lawless

Steve Lawless

I've worked in IT for over forty years and spent the last twenty in training and consultancy roles. Since starting Purple Griffon in 2002 I've taught over three thousand individuals in a variety of subjects. I hold qualifications in all four versions of ITIL®, ITAM, UX, BRM, SLM, SIAM, VeriSM, and AI, and co-authored the BCS AI Foundation book. Outside of work, I enjoy skiing (or rather falling over at high speed), reading, science and technology, and spending time with my loved ones.

Tel: +44 (0)1539 736 828

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