The 4 Ps of ITIL Service Management

The IT Service Management life cycle has 5 stages – strategy, design, transition, operation and improvement. During service design, the 4 Ps need to be considered – People, Process, Products and Partners. An effective IT service strategy needs to acknowledge the importance of all of these.

This is just one small part of what is covered on our ITIL Foundation course, which teaches you real life applications of the ITIL framework as well as the knowledge needed to pass the ITIL Foundation exam.

4 Ps of ITIL



The first ‘people’ to consider are the people that work in the IT services. Service managers need to ensure the following:

  • That their staff have the skills to match the roles
  • They have sufficient staff to support the service
  • That the roles and responsibility of the staff are fit for purpose
  • That culture and communication within the service is appropriate
  • That ongoing training can be provided to fill skills gaps
  • That the IT service fits with the organisational structure and that the right relationships are in place

The next people to be considered are the customers of the service. These are the recipients of the service, and the SLA is agreed with them. The customer is usually another manager within the organisation, or a business owner. For more information, have a look at our blog post on key customer conversations.

The service userare very important. The service must be designed to make the user experience as effective as possible – the users usually feed back to the customer.


The definition of a process is “A set of coordinated activities combining and implementing resources and capabilities in order to produce an outcome, which directly or indirectly, creates value for a customer or stakeholder.”

An effective process must be measurable; have specific results that are identifiable and accountable; must deliver to customers and stakeholders (meet their expectations); and must be able to respond to specific events.

In ITIL, each process will have a Process Owner, whose role includes the following:

  • definition of process strategy and standards
  • assisting with process design
  • keeping process documentation updated
  • ensuring the process is efficient and effective
  • ensuring the right resources and training is provided
  • providing input to Service Improvement Programmes
There will also be a Process Manager, whose role includes the following:
  • accountability for the the operational management of a process
  • working with the Process Owner to plan
  • appointing people to their roles
  • managing resources assigned to processes
  • monitoring and reporting the performance of the process
  • identifying potential improvements
Finally, there will be a Process Practitioners who:
  • carries out process activities
  • creates and updates records to show activities and duties carried out

Products (technology)

An IT service depends on the following technology/products:

  • Its own technology to run efficiently to support others
  • Monitoring tools
  • Automation
  • Support tools
  • Communication tools

Partners (suppliers)

Suppliers have a big impact on IT services – the staff depend on these third parties to deliver the goods or services needed to run the IT service. It’s important for appropriate partnership agreements to be formed, i.e. contracts and service level agreements.

The 4 Ps of ITIL

By managing the 4 Ps, the ITIL framework makes sure that all aspects of an effective IT service strategy are covered. All of the 4 Ps must be aligned to corporate goals to ensure the best, most appropriate, service is delivered.

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