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The New Four Ps of Service Management

For years, people, process, and technology (PPT) was a widely recognized framework for balancing and integrating the components needed to achieve optimal performance and outcomes. In the ITIL v3 Service Design publication, this framework was expanded to the four Ps: people, processes, products, and partners.

ITIL 4 has further expanded and evolved this framework to the four dimensions of service management. These four dimensions are collectively critical to the effective and efficient facilitation of value for customers and other stakeholders in the form of products and services.

The four dimensions of service management are:
  • Organizations and people
  • Information and technology
  • Partners and suppliers
  • Value streams and processes.
These four dimensions represent perspectives which are relevant to the whole service value system (SVS), including the entirety of the service value chain and all ITIL practices. Each ITIL practice is a set of organizational resources based on the four dimensions.

The four dimensions are constrained or influenced by external factors that are often beyond the control of the SVS. These external factors, typically known as PESTLE, include political, economic, social, technological, legal, and environmental factors.

Although this evolution to the four dimensions does not lead to a simple and catchy acronym, it is essential in that these dimensions reflect the complexities of the modern workplace.

Organizations and People: This dimension focuses on the human aspect of an organization and considers the interests of all stakeholders, whether customers, employees of the organization,
employees of suppliers, or any other stakeholder. To meet the needs of its stakeholders an organization needs people who understand their roles and responsibilities and who have the necessary skills and competencies. It also needs a culture that supports its objectives and that fosters shared values and attitudes. The addition of the ‘organization’ aspect of this dimension acknowledges that the complexity of organizations is growing, and it is important to ensure that the way an organization is structured and managed is well defined and supports its overall strategy and operating model.

Information and Technology:
As with the other three dimensions, this dimension applies both to service management and to the services being managed. The addition of the ‘information’ aspect of this dimension acknowledges that a primary benefit of information technology is the ability to create, manage, and use information. This information is used in the course of service provision and
consumption, and to gain insights that drive informed decision-making and strategic planning. The challenges of information management, such as those presented by security and regulatory compliance requirements, are a focus of this dimension, as are the technologies that both support and enable services. The specific information and technologies used by an organization depend on the nature of the services being provided, the culture of the organization, and the nature of the business. Organizations must consider whether emerging technologies such as AI and machine learning, blockchain, and 5G networks are compatible with the current architecture of the organization and its customers, and also whether they are likely to disrupt the organization or its services.

Partners and Suppliers: Today, very few services are delivered using only an organization’s own resources. This dimension encompasses an organization’s relationships with external service providers that may be involved in the design, development, deployment, delivery, support, and/or continual
improvement of services. It also incorporates contracts and other agreements between the organization and its partners or suppliers. The distinction between partners and suppliers reflects the fact that relationships between organizations may involve various levels of integration and formality. This ranges from formal contracts with clear separation of responsibilities, to flexible partnerships where parties share common goals and risks and collaborate to achieve desired outcomes. The nature of these relationships depends on an organization’s strategy and objectives for sourcing and supplier management.

Value Streams and Processes
: This dimension is concerned with how information and workflow across the various parts of the organization to enable value creation through products and services. Streamlined and efficient processes are crucial for delivering high-quality products and services. Processes should be regularly reviewed and optimized using data-driven insights and feedback loops. They should work together in an integrated and coordinated way and be automated where possible. The addition of the ‘value stream’ aspect of this dimension speaks to the need to develop and improve processes in the context of value streams. Value streams provide a macro-level view of the flow of work across integrated processes and functional areas of an organization. It is at this macro-level view that waste and constraints become visible. Without this insight, organizations run the risk of making changes to processes that fail to improve the end-to-end flow of value.

An ITIL 4 guiding principle is ‘Think and work holistically’. This principle is about recognizing
 complexity of systems and how the alteration of one element in a system can impact others. The four dimensions of service management illustrate this principle and the need to ensure that there is a balance of focus between each dimension.

The outputs that an organization delivers to itself, its customers, and other stakeholders will suffer unless it is understood how all four dimensions work together in an integrated way to enable value creation for the organization, its customers, and other stakeholders.

Additional reading to consider about this topic:

The Four Dimensions of Service Management

5 Reasons to Invest in ITIL 4

Related training opportunities from ITSM Academy:

Organizations and People: Discussed in ITIL Drive Stakeholder Value, which focuses on engaging with and understanding the needs of stakeholders involved in service management.

Value Streams and Processes:
Described in ITIL Create, Deliver, and Support, which looks at select service management practices and their role in essential value streams.

Detailed also in:

Value Stream Management Fundamentals, which provides a brief introduction to basic Lean concepts and then takes a deep dive into value stream mapping.

Certified Process Design Engineer (CPDE), which provides clear, step-by-step methods and techniques for designing, reengineering and improving processes.

Information and Technology: Covered in ITIL High Velocity IT, which examines the tools and technologies used in modern IT service management.

Partners and Suppliers: Explored in ITIL Drive Stakeholder Value, emphasizing the importance of managing relationships with external partners.


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