ITIL - IT Service Operation: The heart of service operation

Learn how ITIL Service Operation and ITOps affect the processes and services in IT Operations



Ralph Bockisch
Ralph Bockisch
EcholoN Blog - ITIL - IT Service Operation: The Heart of Service Operations

At the interface between technology and business, the Information Technology Infrastructure Library Framework, or ITIL for short, has found its permanent place. As a de facto standard, it is regarded in many IT departments worldwide as an indispensable tool for ensuring the provision of IT services - in terms of quality and value.


With its five-part core area - Service Strategy, Service Design, Service Transition, Service Operation and Continual Service Improvement (CSI) - ITIL enables a systematic and efficient approach to IT service management. Here, this article will take a look at the ITIL Service Operations area:

Service Operation (SO) is the third phase in the service lifecycle (practices) in the service lifecycle through ITIL v3 and governs the provisioning and support of services to ensure that they are delivered efficiently and effectively. This is where IT services are ensured to meet agreed requirements (e.g., the accessibility of an application) and deliver results.

How does this phase work?

The focus of this Practices is to ensure the day-to-day operation of IT Services. It includes tasks such as managing access to the service, monitoring service performance, performing backup and recovery procedures, and managing service requests and incidents.

ITIL Service Operation stands for the effective and efficient execution of daily operational tasks. You could say that if service strategy, design, and transition were the planning and construction phases of a bridge, SO would be the day-to-day operation of that bridge. It ensures that traffic flows smoothly and intervenes when necessary to avoid congestion and accidents.

This is where the service desk or 1st level support, the central point of contact for all service requests and incidents related to service operations, is important. The service desk handles incidents, i.e., unwanted interruptions or quality degradations in operations, and service requests, which include a request for information, advice, or routine changes to the service.

EcholoN Blog ITIL - Service Operation: Importance of Service Operation

Importance of Service Operation

IT Operations Management is critical to the overall performance of IT services, ensuring that services work in practice as planned and that they meet operational requirements. Although often overlooked, the SO is critical to meeting business objectives and delivering value.

Purpose and goals

As a central part of IT service management, Service Operation has a clear and defined purpose: it aims to coordinate and control the delivery and support of IT services. This provides the guarantee that organizations can deliver services effectively and efficiently to their users.

The Service Operation purpose is supported by a set of clearly defined objectives. These goals are:

  • Effective and efficient delivery and support: service operation is at the heart of the relationship between the IT service provider and the end users. It deals with the management, monitoring and control of IT services and ensures that they are in line with business objectives.
  • Timely response to service failures and disruptions: It is responsible for ensuring that effective incident management is implemented. This means responding quickly to service interruptions and finding solutions to minimize downtime.
  • Ensuring quality and continuous improvement: A key objective of Service Operation is to monitor and continuously improve the quality and performance of the services provided. It ensures that requirements and expectations are met.
  • Providing a clear and effective communication channel: an effective service desk ensures fast and efficient communication between IT users and the service provider. It enables the provider to respond to user needs and requests and deliver effective solutions, often using automation.

The key elements of Service Operation according to the IT Infrastructure Library: A deep insight

Service Operation has five main elements, all of which play critical roles in the process of managing IT:

  • Incident Management: incident management is concerned with the efficient and rapid recovery of systems (IT service) after an incident has disrupted normal function. It is a key task and aims to restore normal operations as quickly as possible to minimize the impact on the business.
  • Problem Management: This element is dedicated to the identification and elimination of recurring or major disruptions. Problem management aims to find long-term solutions to prevent similar incidents from recurring in the future.
  • Event Management: Event Management monitors and controls all events that occur during the lifecycle of a service. It is designed to detect changes in the status quo and execute appropriate responses. An event can be any change that could impact a service lifecycle.
  • Request Fulfilment: It is the management of user requests. These requests can be varied - from requests for information or advice, to routine requests such as password changes or the provision of standard services.
  • Access Management: It ensures that only authorized users have access to applications. It is linked to information security management and deals with the implementation of policies and measures for access to services.

These five main elements of service operation work seamlessly together to ensure that effectively, with minimal risk and disruption, IT services can be delivered throughout the lifecycle. Each element plays a critical role in the overall IT Service Management (ITSM) strategy to maximize value to the business and ensure quality of service.

EcholoN Blog ITIL - Service Operation: What are the tasks of an IT Operation Manager?

What are the tasks of an IT Operation Manager?

IT Operation Managers (ITOps Managers) play a crucial role in the service lifecycle. Their tasks are varied and of great importance for the smooth operation of IT operations.

The ITOps Manager is responsible for the efficient provision and stable operation of IT. This includes the management of technical resources such as servers, networks and applications. He or she ensures that all service level agreements are met and that the IT services comply with the agreed performance characteristics.

  • A central area of responsibility is incident management. He ensures that incidents are resolved quickly and effectively to minimize the impact on end users. This includes coordinating with other teams and departments to ensure quick resolution.
  • In addition, he is also responsible for problem management. He analyzes recurring problems and looks for long-term solutions to eliminate them. In doing so, they work closely - for example, through interfaces - with change management to ensure that improvements are implemented without negatively impacting ongoing operations.
  • ITOps managers also play an important role in capacity management. They continuously monitor the utilization of the IT infrastructure and forecast future demand to ensure that sufficient capacity is available to support the required IT applications.
  • Last but not least, IT operations managers are also responsible for release management. They coordinate the planning, implementation, and monitoring of software and hardware changes to ensure that all new or upgraded components are properly tested, documented, and deployed.

Specific example from three elementary business areas:

Network infrastructure

  • Configuration and management of all network functionalities for internal and external IT communications
  • Setting and monitoring telecommunications connections
  • Managing firewall ports to allow communications between the network and external servers
  • Providing secure remote access to the corporate network for authorized users
  • Monitoring the health and performance of the network, detecting deviations, and preventing or quickly resolving problems, which may include building and managing a network operations center (NOC), a centralized, physical location from which ITOps teams can continuously monitor the network

Server and device management:

  • Configuring, maintaining and managing servers for infrastructure and applications
  • Network and individual storage management to ensure application requirements are met
  • Set up and approve email and file servers
  • Provisioning and management of company-approved PCs
  • Provisioning and management of cell phones and other mobile devices
  • Licensing and management of software for desktop, laptop, and mobile devices

Help/Service Desk:

  • Manage data center locations and facilities
  • Implementation of customer support
  • Creating, authorizing, and managing user profiles in enterprise systems
  • Provide network configuration review information to regulators, business partners, and other external organizations
  • Ensuring continued availability of the network and creating disaster recovery plans
  • Notify users of serious incidents that impact network services
  • Establish regular backups to facilitate recovery of data when needed
EcholoN Blog ITIL - Service Operation: Assessment and Reporting: The Critical Building Blocks of Service Operation

Assessment and reporting: the crucial building blocks of service operation

In the "Service Operation" phase according to ITIL v3 - found in ITIL 4 as well - assessment and reporting play a crucial role. They play a key role in guaranteeing smooth operation and ensuring customer satisfaction.

Evaluation management is responsible for measuring, monitoring and evaluating the internal and external performance and quality of IT services. This includes, among other things, the creation of key performance indicators (KPIs) against which service performance can be assessed. These KPIs can include, for example, availability, response time in the event of faults, or the performance of the IT systems.

In addition, assessment management is also responsible for conducting regular audits. This involves reviewing processes and procedures to ensure that they meet requirements and standards. Audits can reveal potential weaknesses or areas for improvement that can lead to more effective service delivery.

Reporting is another important component of service operation. Here, the results of assessments and audits are summarized and communicated to the relevant stakeholders. It is important to make the reports understandable and meaningful in order to provide a clear picture of service performance. Reports should be both quantitative, i.e., numbers-based, and qualitative, i.e., from the user's perspective.

Reporting is used not only to show the current status, but also to identify trends and patterns. In this way, potential bottlenecks or recurring problems can be identified at an early stage. The results of the assessment and reporting serve as a basis for continuous improvement of IT service management and IT operations.

Example of typical key figures from the service operation process

Key figures Incident Management

  • Number of incidents: Number of incidents handled by the service desk - optionally broken down by type and categories.
  • Number of duplicate incidents: Number of repeated incidents (with already known resolution paths)
  • Incident resolution by remote access: Number of incidents triggered by the service desk (i.e., without performing on-site work at the users' premises)
  • Number of escalations: Number of escalations due to incidents that could not be resolved within the agreed timeframe
  • Response time: Average and absolute time from the reporting of an incident to a first response from the service desk
  • Incident resolution time: Average resolution time of an incident
  • First resolution rate: Percentage of incidents that can be resolved by the service desk immediately on the first call
  • Resolution within SLA: Percentage of incidents that are resolved within the resolution times agreed in the SLAs.
  • Effort per incident: Average and absolute amount of work required to resolve an incident.

Key figures Problem Management

  • Number of problems: Number of problems handled by Problem Management
  • Problem resolution time: Average resolution time of a problem
  • Number of unresolved problems: Number of problems at a given point in time for which the underlying cause is not known.
  • Number of Incidents per Known Problem: Mean number of similar incidents due to the same known problem after the underlying problem has been identified.
  • Time to Problem Identification: Average time between the first occurrence of an incident and the identification of the underlying problem.
  • Effort per problem: Average amount of work required to develop solutions to problems.

Understanding the place of Service Operation in the overall IT Infrastructure Library framework

In the comprehensive and multi-layered concept of the framework, IT service operation plays a crucial role. As a phase focused on ensuring the day-to-day delivery and support of IT, it is essential to stable and efficient IT service management.

IT service execution represents the point in the ITIL service lifecycle where strategic planning and design come to life. It enables the transition from theory to practice and ensures that best practices are implemented effectively and efficiently to deliver business value.

In conclusion, operational execution is an integral part of the ITIL framework and provides detailed guidance on managing and implementing IT services. It helps organizations get the most out of it by focusing on effective and economical processes and promoting continuous improvement. It is indispensable for achieving the highest possible service levels and enables organizations to achieve their business goals through optimized service management.

In short, ITIL would be incomplete without operational execution. It is an essential component for IT organizations striving for operational excellence and delivering world-class IT services to users. In this concept, it therefore assumes a crucial importance that goes far beyond its operational character.

EcholoN Blog ITIL - Service Operation: Change of Service Operation to ITIL v4

Change of Service Operation to ITIL v4

ITIL v4 published an updated version of ITSM - Best Practices in 2019. Among many other improvements, some changes were made to the Service Operation domain. The focus was on making the operation and support of IT services more efficient and practical.

The importance of SO according to ITIL v3 was further expanded in v4. This part of the framework focuses on the provision and monitoring of services to ensure that they function effectively and meet the needs of customers.

An important aspect of SO in ITIL v4 is the introduction of the Operational Support and Analysis (OSA) module. This module provides detailed guidance and best practices for planning, monitoring and optimization. It also includes processes for incident and problem management, change management and release management. Another new feature is the concept of the "Service Desk", a central point of contact for customer inquiries and problem reports. This serves as a single point of contact (SPOC) for all service requests and coordinates the entire incident management process.

Another focus of SO in ITIL v4 is on monitoring and continuous improvement of services. Through the use of service management tools and thorough analysis of quantitative metrics, potential problems can be identified and resolved early.

Version 4 also has a stronger focus on automation and the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in this area. By using automated solutions, routine tasks can be simplified and accelerated, allowing IT operations managers to focus on more complex tasks.

The importance of effective delivery of IT services post version 4 is to ensure that customer expectations are met. Smooth and efficient operation of IT services is critical to the success of an organization and the satisfaction of its customers.


Additional information:

blog - article: ITIL - Explained simply and briefly

blog - article: ITIL - Service Design

blog - article: ITIL Service Transition to ITIL v3

blog - article: The importance of an effective ITIL® service strategy for success in IT service management

blog - article: ITIL - Continual Service Improvement