An Introduction to ITIL (part 2/5) – Service Design

Hi all ! In this article I’ll continue the résumé I wrote as a preparation for my ITIL Foundation exam.

Catching up

In the previous post I described what ITIL is and why we should use it. I also mentioned that the  ITIL service lifecycle is described by the following stages:

  • Service Strategy
  • Service Design
  • Service Transition
  • Service Operation
  • Continual service improvement

The service strategy described in my previous post, addressed the 4 P’s needed to meet the desired organization objectives. Having built a service strategy we will now see what the service design is all about.

Service Design

Service design is the stage in the lifecycle that turns a service strategy into a plan, for delivering the business objectives.

Purpose & Objectives

The purpose of this stage is to :

  • to effectively design IT services so that minimum improvement will be required during their lifecycle
  • design governing IT practices
  • design processes and policies
  • embed continual improvement on all service design activities to ensure that solutions became more effective over time.

Scope & value to the business

The service design covers 5 main aspects:

  1. Service solutions for new or changed services
  2. Management information and tools
  3. Technology and management architectures
  4. Process design
  5. Measurement methods and metrics

Good service design makes it possible to deliver quality, cost-effective services.

Key principles

There are 5 main key principles to service design :

  • The 4 Ps – A successful service provision needs the engagement of People, Processes,Products,Partners.
  • Balanced service design – To ensure an effective end result service design should balance between: utility and warranty ; performance and functionality ; people, skills, technology and costs.
  • The 5 design aspects –  These 5 aspects were already listed in the scope section. We will now see, what each aspect is all about.
Aspect Characteristics
Designing service solutions 
  • Create and maintain the service acceptance criteria(SAC).
  • Assemble the service design package(SDP).
  • Design the service solutions to the new requirements.
  • Explore opportunities for re-use.
  • Evaluate and cost alternative designs.
Management information and tools
  • Develop the Service Portfolio as critical tool containing details of : services in the pipeline ; retired services ; the service catalogue. The Service Portfolio will describe the provider’s service in terms of business value.
  • Develop knowledge management systems such as : the Configuration Management System(CMS) ; the Service Knowledge Management System(SKMS); the Security Management Information System(SMIS) .
Technology and management architectures
  • ITIL is mainly concerned with the way you design the management architecture. From ITIL perspective, the management architecture is a subset of the IT infrastructure.
  • The 5 areas to considere when designing the management architecture are : business requirements; people, roles and activities ; processes and procedures ; management tools ; technology.
Process design
  • A process model enables the understanding of the distinctive features of a process.
  • Each process has its own owner who is also accountable for its improvement and for meeting its business objectives.
Measurement methods and metrics
  • The measurements and metrics selected need to reflect the goals and objectives of the process being measured.
  • To demonstrate performance against organizational goals and objectives a Balanced Scorecard can be used.
  • The service design packages – Service design packages(SDP) are documents defining all aspects of an IT service and its requirements through each stage of the lifecycle. Single or multiple SDP are produced for each: new IT Service; major change; IT service retirement. At a high level a SDP includes:  requirements ; service design ; organizational readiness assessment; programme, transition and operational acceptance plans; service acceptance criteria(SAC).
  • Delivery model options – As part of the service design an organizational readiness assessment is carried out. The results of this assessment will identify a number of service gaps that will need to be fulfilled. Each of the following service-sourcing methods has its own pros and cons and can be used to fullfill the identified gaps : insourcing; outsourcing; co-sourcing; multi-sourcing; partnership ; Business Process Outsourcing(BPO) ; Application Service Provision(APS); Knowledge Process Outsourcing(KPO).


Design coordination

The design coordination process ensures that the goals and objectives of the design stage are met. The coordination includes all the design activities: some design activities will be managed as part of a project, others will be managed by the change process alone. Each organization should define the criteria to help identify how each design part will be managed.


Service level management 

SLM manages the expectations and perceptions of business customers and users and ensures that the service provided is in line with those expectations. The management of those expectations and perceptions is achieved by defining: service level requirements(SLR) ; service level agreements(SLA) ; organizational level agreements(OLA) ; service improvement plans(SIP) . These agreements to be effective need to be continually monitored and  reviewed.


Service catalog management 

The service catalog is a part of the service portfolio that can exist as a database or a structured document containing a description of all live IT including those available for deployment. The service portfolio is typically an internal list of services, not available to the customer,  describing the services in their business value terms.The purpose of the service catalog management is to provide and maintain an accurate list of all the services being transitioned.


Availability management 

Availability can be defined as the ability of an IT service and components to perform its agreed function when necessary. Availability management covers all activities needed to comply with this definition such as :  design, implementation, measurement, management and improvement.


Capacity management

 Capacity management is a process that extends through the whole service lifecycle and that guarantees the balance of cost vs resources and of supply vs demand. This delicate balance is achieved not only by building a capacity plan, but also by managing capacity and building reports on businesses, components and services.The capacity and performance reports, the capacity plan and the forecasts are the core of the capacity management information system(CMIS).


Supplier management

The supplier management process recognizes the supplier’s value and tries to monetize it. This monetization can be achieved not only by carefully managing the relationship with each supplier but also, by managing the services provided by all suppliers using the centralized supplier contract management information system(SCMIS).


Information security management 

 This process raises awareness across the organization of the need to secure all information assets. Information assets includes databases, metadata and all channels used to exchange or disclose information. The definition of an information security policy, and the periodic execution of security audits and audits reports are the means necessary to enforce information security management.


IT Service continuity management (ITSCM)

 This process focus on “disaster management” by providing advice and guidance on continuity and recovery related issues. In addition the SCM also ensures that the proper mechanisms are in place to meet or exceed the agreed business continuity targets. These targets are typically defined through SLAs.


Technology Considerations

The only technology considerations that ITIL prescribes is that the use of the appropriate service management tools is paramount to the success of processes implementations. When choosing the support tools make sure that :

  • the tools enhance but don’t replace your assets.
  • implement tools that can support existing processes and not the other war around.
  • do not limit the choice of a tool to its functionalities. Please also consider the tool cost, complexity,level of required customization.
  • do not assume purchasing a tool will solve all your problems 🙂

Final thoughts

Congratulations on having finished this second long read !! For me up to this point there a couple of ideas which are perfectly clear. The definition of a catalog of services as well as the careful management of : service levels, systems availability, capacity, security and continuity are core blocks of the Service Design stage.

The careful adoption of IT tools will also be a mandatory part of this process. Managing  the service design processes on a paper-based solution, could be possible but wouldn’t reap the benefits of having these services visible throughout the company.


[1] Slide Share ; ITIL 2011 Explained ;

[2] IT Process Maps ; ITIL Implementation with Process Templates ;

[3] ITIL Home; The Official ITIL Website ;

[4] Compaid ; ITIL Quick Reference Guide by the Compaid Consulting Group ;

[5] ISACA ; COBIT 5 – A Business Framework for Governance and Managment ;

[6] Universal Service Management ; Framework wars: The Futility of the COBIT versus ITIL versus anything else discussion ;

[7] IT Skeptic ; Why COBIT wins in a showdown with ITIL ;

[8] ITIL News ; Why adopt ITIL ;

[9] ITIL Central; News and information for ITIL ;