Processes do not equal Practices

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tedderpd
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Thu Jun 13, 2019 9:08 am

I’ve noticed a tendency to equate ITIL 4’s 34 practices to ITIL v3’s 26 processes. But that is a misconceived notion. A practice is much more than a process. In fact, a practice may leverage many processes to accomplish its goals.

Processes transform defined inputs into defined outputs. By definition, processes have a very limited scope and function.

So, what’s the difference between ‘practices’ and ‘processes’? Think of a 'practice' as a 'capability'.

First, processes support practices. Looking at it from an ITSM perspective, there likely is at least one or more ITIL (and non-ITIL based) processes involved as part of a practice to help an organization perform its work or accomplish an objective.

The practice concept introduced in ITIL 4 provides organizations with the flexibility to leverage ITIL and other approaches for accomplishing their objectives. Although seasoned ITSM practitioners already knew this, following a practice-based approach to service management allows an organization to leverage methodologies like Lean or Agile or others to deliver the outcomes and co-create needed value. Practices enable organizations to be more responsive and adaptable to change. And lastly, practices bring focus to meeting organizational objectives, not only on executing processes.


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Corde Wagner
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Thu Jun 20, 2019 11:43 pm

Interesting points Ted. I think your thoughts are spot on.

It may be helpful for some readers to add the ITIL 4 definition of practice, which is defined as "A set of organizational resources designed for performing work or accomplishing an objective".

Given this definition and your observations, I would also offer that when practitioners look holistically at the ITIL aligned processes they are using (for example, incident management) most of us will recognize that it takes a lot more to work an incident than the base ITIL incident management process.

Those who work in a Service Desk or in a network operations center (NOC), know that there are many other resources used in managing incidents, some of which includes monitoring tools (e.g. Solarwinds), ITSM tools (e.g. ServiceNow or Remedy), phone systems, other team members or next tier teams, etc. All of these resources are used and likely essential to quickly resolving and incident and restoring the service. Without them a single person and a documented process alone wouldn't be able to identify, record, communicate, escalate and manage the many incidents that can occur in a big company, and which is why I think the concept of a "practice" used in ITIL 4 can help practitioners and management alike to relate to what it takes to meet our agreed to objectives.

Cheers!
Corde Wagner
ITIL v3 Expert - ITILv4 - CASM - VeriSM-Plus
tedderpd
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Fri Jun 21, 2019 8:46 am

Great commentary, Corde; thanks for your feedback.

Another way to think about process vs. practice is to think of a practice as a "capability". I picked this up in a recent exchange with Akshay Anand, Axelos' ITSM Product Ambassor. When you think of a practice as a capability - or the ability to do / accomplish something with confidence, you soon realize that it requires much more than just a process (or two or 5!).
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