Program, Project and Service Management with ITIL 4®

The ever-increasing importance of the efficient use of IT to support business processes gives rise to the need for professional IT service management. This is the only way to meaningfully generate added value in the company. In addition to the actual service operation, fundamental aspects of service improvement and service expansion must also be taken into account - and this on the basis of high-quality programs and projects with flexible and dynamic implementation so that all customer requirements can be taken into account in a value-creating manner. A mammoth task for many organizations! But how can such a challenge be mastered?

Getting ITIL 4 off the ground: Framework for Service Management

ITIL 4 offers many helpful approaches to solving this task. An important prerequisite is the willingness to change in the direction of customer and service orientation. In addition, a structured, holistic view and integration of program and project management approaches into the flexible structures of the Service Value System of ITIL 4 is required.To this end, ITIL 4 envisions project management as a stand-alone practice and purposeful organizational resource for integrating the program and project management disciplines.

In this way, the efficiency, quality and cost-effectiveness of the respective IT services can be improved in the digital age on the basis of integrative collaboration. The use of information technology has become a matter of course. But the tasks to be performed have changed considerably. This can be attributed to the changed technical requirements, the organizational framework conditions and the need for integrative collaboration in the operational and project environment. Modern, agile and flexible working methods in the sense of Scrum, Lean Management and DevOps are necessarily taken into account.

Project management and ITIL 4 - is that possible?

When the architecture of ITIL 4 was designed, it seemed a revolutionary decision to include project management practices in the scope of ITIL. The ability to manage projects effectively is important for any organization. This is especially true if it is able and willing to adapt different methods to its needs and environment. Therefore, project management has been added to ITIL 4.

However, as the details of the practice were worked out, it was quickly realized that this was not enough, as projects should never be managed in isolation. Projects should contribute to a larger purpose defined by an organization and/or program. As a result, the ITIL 4 Practice Guide was aligned with a focus on project and program management.

Projects and programs in the context of ITIL 4

The purpose of program and project management (PPM) practice is to ensure that all projects in the organization are successfully executed and contribute to value creation for stakeholders as well as programs. Program and project management plays an essential role in planning and implementing change in an organization. The aim is to optimize the use of resources, take risks into account, and link changes in order to achieve the expected value.

A project typically focuses on delivering a specific output. The focus of a program, on the other hand, is on value-added outcomes and benefits for the organization and other stakeholders. Programs tend to last longer than individual projects. They may consist of projects in different areas of the organization. For example, the launch of a new product or service may depend on projects in the sales, marketing, distribution, and IT departments. These, in turn, are all focused on achieving the results required for the program. A program can be stand-alone, but is often part of a portfolio.

Both programs and projects are distinct from day-to-day operations (often referred to as "day-to-day operations") because they:

  • introduce significant changes,
  • are temporary structures and
  • Bringing risks and opportunities beyond the normality of normal business operations.

In addition to the core aspects described here, which ITIL 4integrated within the PPM practice, proven best management practices such as Managing Successful Programs (MSP), PRINCE2, and PRINCE2 Agile retain practical relevance.

Establish and maintain effective approaches

It is relatively easy to establish the use of best practices for programs and projects within the service organization. To do this, management must select appropriate methods that fit the culture and style of the organization. It must also make the necessary investments in training, tools, and techniques needed to successfully apply the methods.

However, sustaining approaches can become more complex over time. Organizational changes and precursors of change within the organization adapt to external forces. This can challenge current circumstances if they have not been adapted. To do this, program and project management methods and approaches must be considered as part of the enduring assessment of the state of the entire organization.

Direct, manage and deliver in the sense of PPM according to ITIL 4

Within the PPM practice, there are three key levels of control: Direct, Manage, and Deliver. In programs and projects, the three levels have "viewing margins." This allows the management levels to exercise control without having to look at the underlying level in detail. These "consideration spaces" are constructed with controlled connectivity between the layers so that each layer can operate within the parameters set by the layer above it. This is called exception management, because only exceptions to these parameters are brought to the attention of the layer above for decision-making. Within the layers, it is possible to work in both a classical and agile context.

The superordinate levels of consideration of PPM in ITIL 4

Anchor PPM under consideration of the service value system

The ITIL 4established practice on program and project management (PPM) focuses on several main areas through which meaningful integration is enabled:

  • Management of the PPM approach within the service organization
  • Project management
  • Project management
  • Product delivery management

In particular, the consideration and integration from the point of view of value chains plays a central role. Like any other ITIL Practice, the PPM Practice contributes to multiple value streams. It is important to remember that a value stream never consists of a single Practice. The PPM Practice is combined with other practices to deliver high quality services. This ensures that project and service management operations integration is based on clear and focused value streams with a holistic value proposition for service consumers.

The key value chain activities to which the PPM practice contributes are "Design and Transition" and "Obtain/Build."

Conclusion: IT as a strategic partner

A key challenge for IT today is to evolve from a pure technology supplier to a strategically important service organization that delivers measurable value. It must align itself faster and better than ever to the ever-changing business requirements. Only in this way can IT position itself as a strategic partner in the company, support business goals, increase competitiveness, efficiency and effectiveness throughout the company and demonstrate its value contribution. For this reason, potential for increasing value creation should be created primarily from the organizational aspects and possibilities of the management systems (service management and project management).

Today's interaction of the coordination required by project and operations happens at a late stage in many companies. Proactive planning and control from an operational perspective can often no longer be guaranteed. Project planning and implementation are carried out without a permanent view of availability, capacities and planned changes in operations. In particular, the planning horizon in change enablement is thus greatly shortened and reactive. An integrative overall view and orientation, such as ITIL 4 enables, leads to efficient service planning, implementation and transfer to operations. This is because the necessary interactions for the information required by the project and operations take place at binding and regulated points in time. This ensures proactive planning and control from an operational perspective.

Controlled interaction between program management, project management and IT service management based on the ITIL 4 value stream chains and value streams approach is a fundamental prerequisite for ensuring that new IT services and improvements can be efficiently transferred to operations. Unnecessary frictional losses and the associated additional effort due to a lack of coordination and communication can be reduced as a result.

Do you have questions or suggestions on the topic of PPM with ITIL 4? Feel free to contact us!


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