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Summary of Thoughts on the ITIL4 Books (My Journey Through Managing Professional)

I was lucky to be part of the initial groups to take the ITIL4 managing professional transition bridge course and examination in late 2019. The course was intended for ITILv3 expert practitioners and covered the books I mention below, but at this time the official publications were not final, so course material was my only reference. The course covered each module that contributes towards the managing professional certification but purposely (due to the course duration) not in as much depth as taking each module independently or reading each volume on its own would.

Earlier this year, final editions of the managing professional volumes were published — and were always on the list to read through to further strengthen my knowledge across the ITIL4 specialist and strategist modules. Over the last few months I finally got around to reading the content, along with working through the ITIL4 practice guides, which complement the core books — (more on my thoughts on the practices on the Axelos blog here).

The volumes that cover the ITIL4 managing professional path are:

  • Create Delver & Support
  • Drive Stakeholder Value
  • High Velocity IT
  • Direct Plan & Improve

The books offer a broad depth of knowledge that builds on the core concepts and ideas introduced to us in ITL4 foundation like the service value system, service value chains & streams. I particularly like how the content is provided and formatted, which in my opinion makes it easier for people to consume and digest knowledge, which hasn’t always been the way with previous ITIL versions.

ITIL4 Managing Professional Pack

The modern approach with a storyboard narrative brings theory to life including tips, techniques, how to’s and ideas that you can use as you see fit for your situation and organisation to suit your your practical needs for service management.

Below is a quick summary of some of the highlights in the books for me. I read these in no particular order.

Create Deliver & Support (CDS)

  • CDS, known as the ‘engine room’ — gives us the practical approach in creation and delivery of Digital services. I particularly like this book as it does a great job on not focusing on all the surrounding things we should consider to be successful in the creation & support of Digital services.
  • Looking at things like how organisational and team structures (hierarchical to flat) and individual competencies (T-shaped, comb shaped, generalist & specialist), workplace culture (collaboration & service mindset), AI, automation, approaches to work prioritisation, swarming and shift left — all contribute in improving how we create deliver & support services, evolving ITSM practices to meet modern demands.
  • Another key area for me was if you found it tricky to grasp the idea of Value Streams in ITIL4 Foundation like I did, there’s some great practical examples bringing them to life showing how they support streams from designing a service to deploying a fix and restoring service for users.
  • Overall some very useful practical guidance, capturing modern thinking & direction of service management relevance through incorporating Agile, Lean and DevOps approaches that should benefit practitioners in the space of creating, delivering & supporting digital products and services.

Drive Stakeholder Value (DSV)

  • Each section in this volume follows a sequential step of the backbone of this book that is the customer journey and how each step contributes towards value co-creation. I like this approach as it helps the book flow really well, sticking to the theme of the customer journey.
  • Without value realisation, services can suffer and people move on to something else, so maximising this is critical for providers and arguably the most important part of service management, focusing on the user & building service relationships.
  • DSV provides a holistic view in exploring how to get the best out of the products & services through engagement with users, stakeholders, partners and suppliers. Focusing on user requirements and service value covering techniques to meet stakeholder requirements like user story mapping, Minimal Viable Products, negotiation of service & experience level agreements.
  • Product managers, service designers, user researchers, business analysts, business relationship & service managers can all take something from the book to work cohesively in improving the perceived outcomes of a service whilst managing costs and risks in order to reduce value leakage and improve consumer experiences.

High Velocity IT (HVIT)

  • HVIT, a personal favourite of mine as it nicely brings together a lot of concepts, thinking and guidance in the space I’ve been working in day-to-day within Digital transformation and high-velocity environments.
  • The book looks at ways to increase the speed and quality of developing products & services, continuously improving balancing this with stability — focusing on high value.
  • It brings together ideas and approaches from Site Reliability Engineering, Lean, Agile and DevOps, as well as automation, cloud, testing which acts a great guidebook for those working in rapid product development and support environments.
  • The book helps navigate the links between ITSM and DevOps — from managing tech debt, Infrastructure as code, CI/CD and peer reviews. I really like the introduction to the Cynefin framework for ITSM practitioners working in complex environments.
  • HVIT is a must have for those working in high velocity environments with culture & ethics playing a big part for success. It describes techniques that can help us meet the objectives of HVIT, that is ensuring we make valuable investments, carry out fast development, have resilient operations, co-create value, all whilst assuring conformance within your organisational boundaries. A guide that goes nicely with CDS for the agile service manager.

Direct Plan Improve (DPI)

  • The last book as part of the managing professional pack I read was Direct Plan & Improve. DPI also counts as an ITIL4 strategist module towards the ITIL4 leader certification. Split into its 3 areas, Direction, Planning & Improvement, it’s a book for anyone who who’s involved in helping shape direction and strategy or continually improving a team — it’s the book I think that has broadest reach that will help all involved in some form of planning and improvement — that is most of us.
  • It looks to equip practitioners with the ability to deliver continuous improvement, reporting, managing risks & portfolios and organisational change management (OCM), doing so in an agile way. The book goes into detail on the themes above in each individual chapter.
  • Some key parts that stood out for me were the sections on cascading objectives, defining policies and guidelines, the role of governance, risk and compliance and how to manage and communicate with different stakeholders.
  • I like how the Service Management Office (SMO) as a centre of excellence was described, as the place that drives the vision of the organisations plans for service management that can help support the development of the Service Value System. DPI plays an important role moving from service management strategy to tactics and the adaptive, flexible operating model of the Service Value Chain, moving from process centric IT Service management to that of value and needs.

Overall, there is so much knowledge and guidance to take from each volume that brings a different perspective on how to approach service management in the modern age. I’ve learnt and taken lots from the books that I’ll be revisiting during my own journey, as there is so much to digest, but found they helped to compliment the course I took last year. Although each book focuses on its specialist areas, once you read them all you can see the overlap and how topics link together.

The next book I will be focusing on in my journey through ITIL4 is Digital and IT Strategy also known as DITS.

ITIL4: Digital and IT Strategy (DITS)

DITS is the second of two books towards the ITIL4 Strategic Leader path, one I look to complete in 2021.

You can order the ITIL4 Managing Professional pack from the Axelos website or from the TSO shop:



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Sundeep Singh

Sundeep Singh

Thoughts of an IT service manager living in a Digital 🌎