ITIL v3 Foundation Certification Notes: Service Operation and Functions

itil v3 foundation certification - service operation

[ITIL® v3 Foundation Notes]  The Service Operation phase of the ITIL® 4 Foundation Certification exam is covered here with an introduction of Service Operation and how service operations are organized through four functions: Technical Management Function, Application Management Function, Operations Management Function and Service Desk Function. Service Operation is concerned with the delivery of service to the required standard.

Purpose, Objectives and Scope of Service Operation

  • Output of all previous phrases (service strategy, design and transition) becomes visible in service operation and begins delivering benefits to the business
  • Service operation spans a much longer period until the service is retired
  • The majority of IT staff is involved in this phrase
  • Benefits – savings, less incidents and downtime, automation to save staff requirements
  • Communication is very important

Purpose of Service Operation

  • The purpose of Service Operation is to deliver the agreed level of end-to-end service (through the service level management process) to the organization, including the maintenance and management of the services (e.g. updates, back up, etc.), within the operational budget.
  • Many processes from the previous phrases actually take place in this stage (e.g. service level management, capacity and availability management, etc.)

Objectives of Service Operation

  • Deliver the expected service (according to SLA) for customer satisfaction and delivery business values
  • Minimize incidents and disruptions
  • Control access to IT services through access management process

Scope of Service Operation

  • Includes the “processes, functions, organization, and tools” that are used to deliver and support the agreed services for business benefits
  • Collects performance data for continual service improvement
  • The ITIL® book provides guidance on
    • Service – all activities to deliver the service
    • Service Management Process – includes event, incident, problem and access management and request fulfillment
    • Technology – manage the technology (network, platform, database, etc.) to deliver the service
    • People – supporting staff


  • Function: a logical concept that refers to the people and automated measures that execute a defined process, an activity or a combination of processes or activities
  • ITIL® names 4 main functions (technical management, application management, operations management functions, and the service desk) that are responsible for carrying out all the lifecycle processes

Technical Management Function

  • to manage and develop the IT infrastructure, including the groups/teams that provide infrastructure support
  • organization aligned to the technology, e.g. mainframe management, web management, database administration
  • Staffing
    • technical managers – lead, decision-making, ensure training of staff
    • team leaders – assist technical manager
    • technical analysts/architects – identify the knowledge and expertise, document, train staff and users
    • technical operator – perform day-to-day operation
  • Role
    • manage the IT infrastructure
    • provide enough skilled supporting staff for the whole lifecycle from strategy to operation and service improvement
    • guide and support operations staff members
  • Objectives
    • provide technical infrastructure for business processes and solve issues
    • plan on new / improved service requirements

Application Management Function

  • involved in every stage of the service lifecycle of application, from ascertaining the requirements through design and transition and then operation and improvement
  • Role
    • manage the IT applications
    • ensure staff have the appropriate knowledge for the application management for the entire lifecycle
      • come up with application strategy
      • design the application
      • transit application to operation
      • support for operation
    • carry out training needs analysis and provide the training to technical and operation staff
  • Objectives
    • identify requirements for applications (utility and warranty)
    • design, assist in deployment and support applications
    • identify and implement improvements
  • Staffing
    • Application Manager / Team Leaders – lead and manager, assess training needs, report
    • Application Analysts / Architects – determine needs, develop operation models for optimal balance of performance vs resources
  • vs Application Development
    • development focuses on utility / management focuses on utility and warranty
    • development: one-time / management is concerned about the lifetime of the application
    • development: focus on software development / management: operation and improvement
    • management is needed for applications developed externally

IT Operations Management Function

  • carry out day-to-day activities for the delivery of the services to ensure SLA is met – i.e. provide quality service in an efficient and cost effective manner
  • Technical and Application Management Functions define the activities to be carried out by Operations Management Function
  • Objectives
    • maintain the “status quo” to achieve infrastructure stability
    • identify opportunities to improve operational performance and save costs
    • initial diagnosis and resolution of operational incidents
  • Staffing
    • IT Operations Manager – lead and manage, report
    • Shift Leaders – coordinates with other shift leaders for smooth handling of IT operations
    • IT Operations Analysts – determine the most effective ways to carry out IT operations
    • IT Operators – perform IT operations such as monitoring, back up, console operation, etc.
  • primarily concerned about stability and availability
  • ensure staff receive proper training on operations management
  • overcome failures (less complex) to minimize business impact, complex issues are to be dealt with by Technical and Application Management Functions

IT Operation Control

  • monitor the operational events of the IT infrastructure (console management)
  • scheduling and management of batch jobs (including backup, centralized printing and maintenance)

Facilities Management

  • responsible for physical IT environment (including power supply, UPS, power for disaster recovery sites, air conditioning)
  • work with third parties on data centre projects

Service Desk Function

  • responsible for dealing with a variety of service activities through calls, web interface or reported events
  • the single point of contact for users of IT services
  • critical for customer satisfaction as it is most visible
  • Staffing
    • need good communication skills and basic technical knowledge of all services
    • understand business processes and their impact in order to prioritize support
  • Objective
    • provide a single point of contact (SPOC) for all IT assistance needs
    • coordinate actions across all IT departments, on behalf of the user, keeping communication flowing back and forth
    • resume services by solving simple incidents such as resetting password, providing instructions, etc.
    • prioritize support service needs
    • receives, handles, escalates and reports incidents / requests where appropriate
    • communicate with users on changes and incidents
    • monitor performances against SLA (including third-party providers)
  • Organization
    • Local Service Desk – co-located with users in the office, efficient but expensive, need more coordination among different service desks within the organization
    • Centralized Service Desk – economy of scale, better coordination, knowledge and mind sharing, no direct physical interaction with users
    • Virtual Service Desk – physically separated service desks linked together with a common system to log issues and communications, allocation of calls based on workload
      • Follow the Sun – similar to virtual service desk, allocation of calls based on time of day for 24-hour support, great for global organization
    • Specialized Service Desk Groups – need to specify the type of incidents on the user side to reach the support staff to allow faster resolution

Conclusion: ITIL® v3 Foundation Service Operation

This ITIL® v3 Foundation study note touches upon the definition, purpose, objectives and scope of Service Operation. Four main types of functions are also discussed, namely Technical Management Function, Application Management Function, Operations Management Function and Service Desk Function. Service Desk Function can be organized into local, centralized, virtual, follow the sun and specialized groups.

The next study notes on Service Operation will focus on Incident Management Process and Problem Management Process.


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Edward Chung

Edward Chung aspires to become a full-stack web developer and project manager. In the quest to become a more competent professional, Edward studied for and passed the PMP Certification, ITIL v3 Foundation Certification, PMI-ACP Certification and Zend PHP Certification. Edward shares his certification experience and resources here in the hope of helping others who are pursuing these certification exams to achieve exam success.

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