• Trevor Wilson

Clarifying ITIL® 4 Value Streams

Several people have recently asked me if I could offer more clarity and explanation regarding the ITIL v4 value streams? I should add, these people have not attended one of my courses, if they had, such clarity and explanation would have been provided. However, to do this justice, my explanation will also highlight the ITIL 4 Service Value Chain (SVC), Practices and Processes.

Firstly, for clarification, you can have different value streams running through the SVC each focusing on the same service. For example, different types of incidents require different value streams describing the work required in each case, e.g. hardware incidents, core business application incidents, major incidents, security incidents or even incidents reported by VIPs etc. Typically, each value stream will take different paths through the SVC.

This is the same principle when you visit a food outlet, e.g. you can eat-in, drive-through or have your food delivered. The path is different even though the end-result is the same. Let’s use a train journey from London to Edinburgh as another analogy but for true clarity with slightly more detail;

Let’s visualise the ticket office, the train and the café bar on the train as different demand zones. Meaning, the consumer needs to purchase tickets and may require information and/or advice (e.g. a demand for customer interaction). The consumer needs to be transported from London to Edinburgh and to arrive on time (e.g. a demand for service delivery). The consumer also requires food and drink during the journey (e.g. a demand for additional products). This in crude terms represents the SVC, e.g. different zones for different types of demand.

Now, there can be several different paths (sequence of steps) which the consumer can take through the SVC to achieve the desired outcome. For example, some consumers will arrive at the station and first go to the ticket office to purchase a ticket, whereas others will have purchased tickets online and therefore, will arrive at the station and go straight to the platform bypassing the ticket office. Depending on the ticket purchased, some consumers will have food and beverages served to the table inclusive, whereas others may purchase food and beverages from the café bar accordingly. Each one of these paths in crude terms represent a value stream. Collectively, these value streams could be visualised as a tube-way map. Value streams describe the sequence of steps, value streams show the flow/path.

Okay, when we look at each step within a value stream specifically, e.g. purchasing a ticket, there are activities carried out in order to fulfil each step and these can vary too (e.g. whether purchasing in-store or online). These in crude terms represent processes. Processes are a set of interconnected and interrelated activities based on taking one or more inputs and producing one or more outputs. An input could be receiving card payment details and an output could be the production of a travel ticket. The outcome from the customer’s perspective is not receipt of the train ticket, nor arriving in Edinburgh on-time (these are outputs of the provider which enable the outcome). The outcome to the customer is arriving at the event in Edinburgh that he or she wanted to attend.

So, what are practices? Practices are a set of resources including skills to achieve an objective. Practices is a term used in the wider sense. For example, a painter will have their own set of resources (e.g. paint, brushes and ladders etc,) to paint a house, whereas as a builder will have a different set of resources to build the house. The same as a dentist and a GP - these are practices. We can translate this to the service desk who use tools to log and track tickets, incident management who use known error database tools provided by problem management for faster resolution and capacity management who use load balancing tools. These practices are used to execute the required activities (practices become the toolbox for the SVC ) and in turn interact /contribute to value streams when and where required.

In terms of the train journey, the ticket office has the resources and capability to take payment and produce travel tickets, and not to mention, provide information and advice. The train driver has the resources and capability to transport consumers (passengers) to Edinburgh and so on – these different practices execute the relevant steps in a value stream with each value stream step falling into one or more SVC demand zones.

I hope this all makes sense

My explanation equally demonstrates why ITIL v4 is significantly different from ITIL v3. Whilst ITIL v3 served a purpose it was far too rigid in comparison, and the reason why in my opinion, many organisations failed to properly implement and benefit from many of the principles and methodologies. Thankfully not now, that is, if we are to get on board with ITIL v4, and if we get on board with ITSM Assist you won’t be disappointed, you will not only have the best chance of becoming certified (passing the exam) but also truly understand the concepts.

I am taking bookings now for onsite certification training (e.g. at your own company’s training facility - often the most cost-effective option) for the new year. I have also published a series of public courses and in addition, you can if preferred, achieve certification via our MP4-video trainer presented eLearning courses complete with exams.

You can contact me directly at: or visit:

Trevor Wilson

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