Bring ITIL 4 to life!


This article responds to 3 common questions which organisations often ask,

  1. How can we break-down slio working and drive the ITIL principles, methodologies and practices through the organisation as a whole?

  2. If we introduced a service management office (SMO) how would this be populated?

  3. How can we align ITIL certification training and development around this to realise the benefits?

Here is one way to do this (and remember, sometimes we must either do things differently or do different things if we truly want to transform),

Introduce roles:

  • Servant Leaders

  • Service Managers

  • Digital and IT Leaders

Servant Leaders

Servant Leaders (or sometimes referred to as champions) would be deemed as those personnel responsible for becoming cross-functional advocators of ITSM practices, methodologies and principles, etc (note: servant leaders are not managers). Servant leaders would be representatives of the SMO and drive their respective ITSM area throughout the organisation as a whole. Whilst a servant leader can be a full-time role, servant leaders often have a dual role/responsibility, i) continuing to fulfil their own team/functional responsibilities, and ii) their respective topic specialist responsibilities as a servant leader. 

The most important elements that defines a servant leader comprise of:

  • Thinking cross-functionally based on building collaborative relationships and focussing on the needs of the organisation not just their respective team.

  • The ability to facilitate, educate, motivate and communicate.

  • To ensure that people have the correct resources and support that they need regarding the area which they represent.

  • To be a methods techniques expert (e.g. consult, design, implement, procedures and documentation etc.) in the specialist area which they represent - ideally, a servant leader should lead by example.

It is important not to appoint servant leaders based purely on a management status within the organisation. Albeit, whilst servant leaders can indeed be of manager status, the role of a servant leader however is not as a manager - passion, enthusiasm, emotional intelligence, commitment and empathy take more of a priority when selecting servant leaders.

In terms of ITIL certification training and development, each servant leader could be appointed to become a representative of CDS, DPI, DSV and/or HVIT respectively. Meaning it would be expected that each servant leader would hold an ITIL certification in the module that relates to the specialist area which they represent.

To draw a comparison, if the SMO was parliament then service leaders would represent their respective areas such as:

  • Waste management

  • Highways and roads

  • Street lighting

  • Parks and leisure

Service Managers

Service Managers would be responsible for the outcomes of related IT services (end-to-end) and have degrees of authority and decision-making and be able to delegate. Service managers would indeed be defined as a ‘manager’ and as highlighted would have a wider scope of control.

Depending the size of an organisation, an organisation could have several service managers forming part of the SMO. 

To draw a comparison, if the SMO was parliament then service managers would be members of parliament (MPs) reporting directly to the governing body and become representative of services such as:

  • Transport

  • Healthcare

  • Leisure

With reference to servant leaders mentioned earlier, each servant leader would interplay with all of the aforementioned services end-to-end. Meaning, all servant leaders would report to all MPs and in turn, all MPs would have access to all servant leaders, thus promoting management by coordination. We should avoid introducing silo’s within the SMO.

In terms of ITIL certification training and development, service managers would work towards becoming Managing Professional certified. This addresses several aspects such as:

  • If an organisation only justifies one service manager then this service manager can think and work holistically across all service sectors in collaboration with all servant leaders.

  • If an organisation has several service managers then by the way of each service manager having specialist knowledge in other areas, this would support opportunities to switch and interplay with responsibilities where necessary.

Digital and IT Leaders

This role focusses primarily on digitally enabled organisations based on helping the business to continuously achieve a competitive advantage. Therefore, this role should have an extremely close relationship with business strategy (which is directed by business governance) and in turn representative of the business. By the very nature of the term strategy, an IT department cannot define the organisational strategy for the business of which it is a part. It can only align with the business strategy and define the IT strategy accordingly.

For these reasons this role should not be seen as simply a role that offers advice to IT that IT may take on board or not, nor should this role be seen as a spare resource for IT to saddle off the fly' projects.

This role should be a key representative of the business governing body and whilst works closely with the IT governing body, the business strategy will be largely composed of digital strategy. So, whilst it is evident that this role would be a key component of the SMO, this role will equally interface with the business.

In terms of ITIL certification training and development, digital strategic leaders would work towards becoming ITIL Strategic Leader certified.


I hope this all makes sense. You can contact me should you want to discuss this further or may be other related topics.


I am over the moon the way both my ITIL 4 online (live) certification courses, and self-paced eLearning certification courses have taken off and boast to-date, not only a full 5-star Trustpilot rating but also a fantastically impressive first-time student exam pass rate too. More importantly, I would like to offer my sincere thanks to all of those students and company organisations who have attended/subscribed to my courses and/or undertaken my self-paced eLearning to-date - it is you guys who are helping me put a new stamp on ITIL certification training and implementation in the workplace, and I thank you for that.


Trevor Wilson

E: twilson@itsmassist.com

W: https://www.itsmassist.com

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