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ITIL4 Foundation: The Definitive Guide [Cheat Sheet]

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ITIL® 4 Service Management Foundation Cheat Sheet

This ‘cheat sheet’ quick reference guide is designed to provide an aid to course delegates prior to taking an ITIL Foundation exam

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

Copyright © AXELOS Limited 2019. Used under permission of AXELOS Limited. All rights reserved.

(For a much more in-depth introduction, please check out our ITIL 4 training on this page).


You will be expected to know the definitions of the following terms:

Service – is defined as a “means of enabling value co-creation by facilitating outcomes that customers want to achieve, without the customer having to manage specific costs and risks.”

Utility – is defined as the “functionality offered by a product or service to meet a particular need. Utility can be summarized as ‘what the service does’ and can be used to determine whether a service is ‘fit for purpose’. To have utility, a service must either support the performance of the consumer or remove constraints from the consumer. Many services do both.”

Warranty – is defined as the assurance “that a product or service will meet agreed requirements. Warranty can be summarized as ‘how the service performs’ and can be used to determine whether a service is ‘fit for use’. Warranty often relates to service levels aligned with the needs of service consumers. This may be based on a formal agreement, or it may be a marketing message or brand image. Warranty typically addresses such areas as the availability of the service, its capacity, levels of security and continuity. A service may be said to provide acceptable assurance, or ‘warranty’, if all defined and agreed conditions are met.”

Customer - is defined as a “person who defines the requirements for a service and takes responsibility for the outcomes of service consumption.”

User – is defined as a “person who uses services.”

Sponsor - is defined as a “person who authorizes budget for service consumption.”

Service Management - is defined as a “set of specialized organizational capabilities for enabling value for customers in the form of services.”

You will also be expected to remember the key concepts of creating value with services:

Cost - is defined as the “amount of money spent on a specific activity or resource”.

Value - is defined as “the perceived benefits, usefulness and importance of something.”

Organization - is defined as a “person or a group of people that has its own functions with responsibilities, authorities and relationships to achieve its objectives.”

Outcome - is defined as “what the customer/user actually wants to achieve; a result enabled by one or more outputs”

Output - is defined as “tangible or intangible deliverable of an activity”

Risk - is defined as a possible event causing difficulties, alternatively uncertainty of outcome

Utility - is defined as what the service does (fitness for Purpose)

Warranty - is defined as how well it does it (fitness for Use)

The key concepts of service relationships:

Service offering - may include goods, resources, actions

Service relationship management - cooperation on Service Provision, Service Consumption and Relationship Management

Service provision - activities performed to provide Services

Service consumption - activities performed to consume Services



The 7 ‘Guiding Principles’ guide Organizations in all circumstances:

Focus on value - know who is being served

Start where you are - accurate data to allow decisions

Progress iteratively with feedback - smaller outputs completed sooner

Collaborate and promote visibility - make work visible

Think and work holistically - see the big picture e.g. on value

Keep it simple and practical - eliminate waste

Optimize and automate - optimize before automating


Organizations and people - culture, structure, governance

Information and technology - for IT Services, information management is the primary means of delivering value

Partners and suppliers - differing levels of integration and formality across different sets of partners and suppliers

Value streams and processes - Value Streams - steps to create and deliver products and services to consumers. Processes - activities that transform inputs into outputs


Plan - "ensure a shared understanding of the vision, current status and improvement direction for all four dimensions and all products and services across the organization"

Improve - "ensure continual improvement of products, services and practices across all value chain activities and the four dimensions of service management."

Engage - "provide a good understanding of stakeholder needs, transparency, and continual engagement and good relationships with all stakeholders."

Design & transition - "ensure that products and services continually meet stakeholder expectations for quality, costs and time-to-market."

Obtain/build - "ensure that service components are available when and where they are needed, and meet agreed specifications."

Deliver & support - "ensure that services are delivered and supported according to agreed specifications and stakeholders’ expectations."

Service Value Streams

Service Value Streams are specific instances of the generic value chain

Service Value Streams are created to respond to particular situations, or to carry out a certain task

Service Value Streams therefore are specific combinations of activities and practices

Once designed, Service Value Streams should be continually improved


You are required to understand the ‘purpose’ and key terms used in 8 of the ITIL practices, being.

Information security management

Protect business information; CIA; Authentication & Non-repudiation

Relationship management

Establish and nurture links at strategic and tactical levels

Supplier management

Manage suppliers to ensure seamless delivery of products and services

IT asset management

Plan and manage the full lifecycle of IT assets

Definition of IT Asset - any "valuable component that can contribute to delivery of an IT product or service."

Monitoring and event management

Observe, record and report changes of state

Definition of Event - “any change of state that has significance for the management of a service or other configuration item (CI). Events are typically recognized through notifications created by an IT service, CI or monitoring tool.”

Release management

Make new and changed services and features available for use

Service configuration management

Accurate and reliable information about services and CIs

Definition of Configuration Item (CI) - a “component that needs to be managed in order to deliver an IT service.”

Deployment management

Move services or service components to environments


The ITIL4 Foundation course syllabus says that you will be expected to understand the following 7 ITIL Practices in detail

Continual improvement:

"align the organization’s practices and services with changing business needs through the ongoing identification and improvement of services,service components,practices"

The continual improvement model:

  • What is the vision?
  • Where are we now?
  • Where do we want to be?
  • How do we get there?
  • Take action
  • Did we get there?
  • How do we keep the momentum going?

Improvements should be data driven - use Continual Improvement Registers (CIRs)

Change control

“maximize the number of successful IT changes by ensuring that risks have been properly assessed, authorizing changes to proceed, and managing a change schedule.”

Definition of a Change - the “addition, modification, or removal of anything that could have a direct or indirect effect on services.”

Assign appropriate Change Authorities to differing areas and the Change Types:

  • Standard
  • Normal
  • Emergency

Incident management

"minimize the negative impact of incidents by restoring normal service operation as quickly as possible.”

Definition of an Incident - an “unplanned interruption to a service or reduction in the quality of a service.”

Prioritize in line with business impact.

(Click here if you might be interested in our incident management training qualification).

Problem management

"to reduce the likelihood and impact of incidents by identifying actual and potential causes of incidents, and managing workarounds and known errors.”

Definition of a Problem - a “cause, or potential cause, of one or more incidents.”

Definition of a Known Error - a “problem that has been analysed and has not been resolved.”

Three phases: Problem identification, Problem control, Error control

Service request management

"support the agreed quality of a service by handling all pre-defined, user-initiated service requests in an effective and user-friendly manner.”

Definition of a Service Request - a “request from a user or user’s authorized representative that initiates a service action that has been agreed as a normal part of service delivery.”

Service requests may be simple or complex.

Well understood and predictable, they can be pre-defined as part of normal service

Some are effectively pre-authorized

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

Service desk

"to capture demand for incident resolution and service requests. It should also be the entry point and single point of contact for the service provider with all of its users.”

The focus should be on people and business, not technical issues

Need customer service skills:

  • Empathy
  • Incident analysis
  • Incident prioritization
  • Effective communications
  • Emotional intelligence

Service level management

"to set clear business-based targets for service performance, so that the delivery of a service can be properly assessed, monitored and managed against these targets.”

“This practice involves the definition, documentation, and active management of service levels.”


  • Must relate to a defined service in the Service Catalogue
  • Must relate to customers’ outcomes, not just operational metrics. A collection of relevant metrics is usually required
  • The agreement must involve all stakeholders including partners, sponsors, users and customers
  • Must be written in plain language and be easy to understand
  • Achieve an end-to-end view of services

We hope that our ITIL4 ‘Cheat Sheet’ has helped you remember the key concepts and terminology used in ITIL4.

And we hope to see you on one of our classroom courses soon... Remember we also offer ELearning if that’s your preferred learning medium.

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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