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ITIL4: Chapter – 3 The four dimensions of service management – Key Messages and Definitions

This is part of the ITIL Foundation from Axelos material and should not be copied. Use it as part of your research to help with your exam preparation. The full content will be available on the official Axelos website.

3 The four dimensions of service management

Key Message: To support a holistic approach to service management, ITIL defines four dimensions that collectively are critical to the effective and efficient facilitation of value for customers and other stakeholders in the form of products and services. These 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 SVS, including the entirety of the service value chain and all ITIL practices. The four dimensions are constrained or influenced by several external factors that are often beyond the control of the SVS.

3.1 Organizations and people

Key Message: The complexity of organizations is growing, and it is important to ensure that the way an organization is structured and managed, as well as its roles, responsibilities, and systems of authority and communication, is well defined and supports its overall strategy and operating model.

3.2 Information and technology

Key Message: When applied to the SVS, the information and technology dimension includes the information and knowledge necessary for the management of services, as well as the technologies required. It also incorporates the relationships between different components of the SVS, such as the inputs and outputs of activities and practices.


  • Cloud computing A model for enabling on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources that can be rapidly provided with minimal management effort or provider interaction.

ITSM in the modern world: cloud computing

ITSM has been focusing on value for users and customers for years, and this focus is usually technology-agnostic: what matters is not the technology, but the opportunities it creates for the customers. Although for the most part this is a perfectly acceptable approach, organizations cannot ignore new architectural solutions and the evolution of technology in general. Cloud computing has become an architectural shift in IT, introducing new opportunities and risks, and organizations have had to react to it in ways that are most beneficial for themselves, their customers, and other stakeholders.

Key characteristics of cloud computing include:

  • on-demand availability (often self-service)
  • network access (often internet access)
  • resource pooling (often among multiple organizations)
  • rapid elasticity (often automatic)
  • measured service (often from service consumer’s perspective).

In the context of ITSM, cloud computing changes service architecture and the distribution of responsibilities between service consumers, service providers, and their partners. It especially applies to in-house service providers, i.e. the organization’s internal IT departments. In a typical situation, adoption of the cloud computing model:

  • replaces some infrastructure, previously managed by the service provider, with a partner’s cloud service
  • decreases or removes the need for infrastructure management expertise and the resources of the service provider
  • shifts the focus of service monitoring and control from the in-house infrastructure to a partner’s services
  • changes the cost structure of the service provider, removing specific capital expenditures and introducing new operating expenditures and the need to manage them appropriately
  • introduces higher requirements for network availability and security
  • introduces new security and compliance risks and requirements, applicable to both the service provider and its partner providing the cloud service
  • provides users with opportunities to scale service consumption using self-service via simple standard requests, or even without any requests.

All these affect multiple service providers’ practices, including, but not limited to:

  • service level management
  • measurement and reporting
  • information security management
  • service continuity management
  • supplier management
  • incident management
  • problem management
  • service request management
  • service configuration management.

Another important effect of cloud computing, resulting from the computing resources’ elasticity, is that the cloud infrastructure may enable significantly faster deployment of new and changed services, thus supporting high-velocity service delivery. The ability to configure and deploy computing resources with the same speed as new applications is an important prerequisite for the success of DevOps and similar initiatives. This supports modern organizations in their need for faster time to market and digitalization of their services.

Considering the influence of cloud computing on organizations, it is important to make decisions about the use of this model at the strategic level of the organization, involving all levels of stakeholders, from governance to operations.

3.3 Partners and suppliers

Key Message: The partners and suppliers dimension encompasses an organization’s relationships with other organizations that are 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.

3.4 Value streams and processes

Key Message: Applied to the organization and its SVS, the value streams and processes dimension is concerned with how the various parts of the organization work in an integrated and coordinated way to enable value creation through products and services. The dimension focuses on what activities the organization undertakes and how they are organized, as well as how the organization ensures that it is enabling value creation for all stakeholders efficiently and effectively.

3.4.1 Value streams for service management

Key Message: A value stream is a series of steps that an organization uses to create and deliver products and services to a service consumer. A value stream is a combination of the organization’s value chain activities (see section 4.5 for more details on value chain activities and Appendix A for examples of value streams).


  • Value stream A series of steps an organization undertakes to create and deliver products and services to consumers.

3.4.2 Processes

Key Message: A process is a set of activities that transform inputs to outputs. Processes describe what is done to accomplish an objective, and well-defined processes can improve productivity within and across organizations. They are usually detailed in procedures, which outline who is involved in the process, and work instructions, which explain how they are carried out.


Process A set of interrelated or interacting activities that transform inputs into outputs. A process takes one or more defined inputs and turns them into defined outputs. Processes define the sequence of actions and their dependencies.