The ITIL Lifecycle

Posted by Marbenz Antonio on January 4, 2023

The 5 Processes of ITIL Service Strategy | Lucidchart Blog

The fourth version of ITIL® is a significant departure from its previous iterations, as it has been redesigned as a best practices framework for organizations undergoing digital transformation.

ITIL 4 is a best-practice approach to IT service management. It is widely used and its latest version can be integrated with organizations that are already using Lean, DevOps, and Agile methodologies to achieve service excellence in software development projects.

One of the most noticeable changes from ITIL v3 is the inclusion of practices that cover the following intersecting processes:

  1. Service Strategy
  2. Service Design
  3. Service Transition
  4. Service Operation
  5. Continual Service Operation

ITIL 4 replaces the linear ITIL Lifecycle with the Service Value Chain (SVC) and Value Streams. The latest version of the framework includes six core elements in the SVC:

  • Plan
  • Improve
  • Engage
  • Design and Transition
  • Obtain/Build
  • Deliver and Support

What’s the ITIL Lifecycle?

ITIL 4 includes extensive information on the Service Value Chain, including:

  • Core components
  • The activities that contribute to each element
  • Outcomes
  • The resulting value propositions

To summarize, the following are the collective purposes of these value chain elements about the ITIL lifecycle:


In the Plan element, various practices are coordinated across the value chain to create a flexible operating model that involves all stakeholders in the ITSM organization.

The planning phase must encompass all strategic, tactical, and operational aspects of framework execution. The outcomes and value should be defined from a business perspective and should allow for evolution as new requirements and stakeholders are introduced.

The planning activity primarily covers these practices:


The Improve phase focuses on co-creating value on an ongoing basis. The activities associated with this element of the Service Value Chain are planned in advance and continue throughout the ITIL Lifecycle.

The Improve stage takes a comprehensive approach and nothing is considered out of scope. Every stakeholder and member of the ITSM organization is responsible for contributing to ongoing improvement.

The Improve activity contributes to these practices:

  • General Management
  • Service Management
  • Value Streams


After the planning is complete and provisions for ongoing improvement have been put in place, it’s time to involve the stakeholders.

Interactions with stakeholders within and outside the organization, including employees, leadership, partners, and customers, are included. A range of collaboration tools can be used, including both digital and physical tools, written and oral communication, self-service portals, and in-person meetings. Emerging technologies such as AI-powered chatbots and knowledge management solutions can help to reduce the manual workload for stakeholders in the ITIL Service Desk domain.

This SVC element contributes to:

  • General Management
  • Service Management
  • Value Streams

Design & Translation

The final product should meet all stakeholder requirements in terms of costs, time, and quality. (It’s important to note that the specific requirements captured, agreed upon, and validated during the planning stage should be fully understood by all members of the organization.)

During the design and translation stage, appropriate governance measures should be in place to track and align project performance to established specifications and goals. The risk tolerance of the organization should be taken into account, as the performance of the project may need to be adjusted as part of the ongoing improvement strategy.

This SVC element primarily contributes to these practices:

  • General Management
  • Service Management
  • Technical Management
  • Value Streams


The Obtain/Build phase refers to the practical implementation of planning, engagement, and design efforts.

The organization should ensure that the necessary components are procured and delivered as required by the members building the products. It’s important to make sure that all components are delivered as specified and expected. These components are then provided to members working on product design, delivery, or support. Performance information can help to improve the procurement process and can expedite:

  • Time to market
  • Procurement of high-quality product components and services

The SVC stage contributes to these practices:

  • General Management
  • Service Management
  • Technical Management

Deliver & Support

The final element of the Service Value Chain ensures that the end product meets the specified requirements and the expectations of all stakeholders in practice.

This phase focuses on the needs of the users, and the corresponding ITIL 4 best practice guidelines aim to understand the actual performance of delivered products and services. The Service Desk plays a key role in providing support to a large user base and works with internal IT to manage problems, incidents, changes, and support requests.

These SVC practices generally contribute to:

  • General Management
  • Service Management
  • Value Streams

ITIL works with DevOps

Finally, the Service Value Chain approach to the ITIL Lifecycle takes into account the main challenges and complexities of modern software development methodologies such as DevOps.

ITIL provides a customizable best practice framework that acknowledges the constantly changing nature of software development. When traditional, long-term waterfall projects fail to deliver and the organization needs to focus on a minimum viable product (MVP), organizations can follow actionable SVC guidelines instead of adhering to a linear and inflexible ITSM framework.

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