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Understanding the Four Ps of ITIL® Service Management

4 Ps of ITIL Service ManagementMost managers are familiar with the four P’s of project management: people, product, process, and project. But did you know that ITIL® has its own 4 P’s which aren’t quite the same?

After all, service management differs from project management. ITIL’s four P’s — People, Process, Products and Partners – focus organizations on critical success factors for a successful ITIL implementation.


People in IT perform processes and procedures associated with ITIL Service Management. This ‘P’ asks companies to consider the ITIL-readiness of their staff and to consider the people factor outside the department.

Is the organization structure appropriate for formal Service Management? Have employees accepted the cultural shift and been trained in new responsibilities? Do they have the skills required to use the new procedures and tools? Are there any skill gaps requiring training? Have the customers been identified, along with the customer owner of the service? Do the customers understand ITIL and buy into it?


ITIL is naturally process-focused, but this step is an examination of the organization’s ability to implement the processes. Are the various stakeholders identified: process manager, owner, and practitioner? Have processes been developed in accordance with ITIL standards and practices? Are the processes and their accountability documented?


Within the ‘4 P’ framework, ‘product’ refers to the tools used by IT service staff to implement the ITIL processes, not the end-user service products. While processes do not require tools, many are implemented more effectively with monitoring, automation and support tools.

In this section, tools should be examined. Does the process need technology to support it? Does the technology selected fit the current needs of the organization and is it flexible enough to support changes resulting from continual improvement? Does it integrate with the existing technology and other process tools?


Every IT organization, in-house or outsourced, has partners that make its services work. A service which requires 24/7 availability should not be housed on technology whose providers only commit to 12/6 support.

Once the service requirements are determined, this P asks the organization examine its various external service providers to ensure the requirements are communicated and supportable. This may require changes in existing support agreements, but it’s a necessary step to ensure the service is properly managed.

An Example: Asset Management

Let us suppose an organization is implementing ITIL-compliant asset management. The examination of the 4 P’s might look like this.


  • Has the asset management team been identified?
  • Have they been trained on the asset management tools?
  • Has a long-term training plan been created to help improve staff performance as they become familiar with the process and tools?


  • Is asset management ownership determined and understood?
  • Has the process been designed, mapped and communicated to the staff?
  • Have the asset management interdependencies been identified and the process integrated to other ITIL processes (change management, problem management, continual improvement)?


  • Has an asset scanning and management tool been selected?
  • Does the tool scan all the assets of the organization and have facilities for manual as well as automated updates?
  • Does the tool integrate to other ITIL-related automation systems in conjunction with the process automation?


  • Does the technology in place support the automated scanning tool?
  • Has the new tool been installed, tested, customized and validated?
  • Does the tool provider understand the expectations of the product for this organization?

As you can see, ITIL implementation involves more than a few people understanding Service Management. Ensure the four P’s are considered to successfully create real and lasting change in the organizatioand a more efficient, reliable portfolio of IT Services.

Ashford Global IT, AGIT, is a leading provider of ITIL training to individuals and businesses. Contact them today to learn more about their training options.

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About this author:

Jon Francum

Jon is the Director of Training at Ashford Global IT.

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