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What is the ITIL® service lifecycle?

To sustain high levels of business performance, organisations need to offer competitive products and services that customers will value, buy and use. Adapting quickly to changes in the economic climate and in the market place is of real importance. All services offered should enable business transformation and growth.
ITIL Service Management supports this transformation through the use of the Service Lifecycle, which is split into 5 distinct lifecycle stages: 

  • Service Strategy
  • Service Design
  • Service Transition
  • Service Operation
  • Continual Service Improvement

Each stage relies on service principles, processes, roles and performance measures, and each stage is dependent on the other lifecycle stages for inputs and feedback. A constant set of checks and balances throughout the Service Lifecycle ensures that as business demand changes with business need, the services can adapt and respond effectively to them.

Service Strategy

Service Strategy sits at the core of the Service Lifecycle and focuses on ensuring that our strategy is defined, maintained and then implemented. There is key guidance for Executive Managers’ around operating according to the business constraints, corporate governance and compliance, legislation, and some cultural aspects of organisational transformation. The focus will enable practical decision making, based on a sound understanding of the offered services, with the ultimate aim of increasing the economic life of all services.
Service Strategy is about ensuring that organisational units in support of the business are in a position to handle the costs and risks associated with their service portfolio, and that they are set up for service improvement.

Service Design

At this stage, the focus shifts to converting the strategy into reality, through the use of a consistent approach to the design and development of new service offerings:

  • A consistent use of a common architecture
  • Understanding and translating the business requirements
  • Introducing the appropriate Support requirements upon implementation of the service


The scope of Service Design is also not limited to new services; it includes any changes and improvements necessary to increase or maintain value to customers over the lifecycle of services, such as improved continuity of a service, or improvements necessary to enhance service hours and service levels. Changes required because of new conformance standards and regulations are also relevant as are services bought off the shelf from suppliers.

Service Transition

As design and development activities are completed, there is a period for Service Transition with its key purpose to bridge both the gap between projects and operations more effectively, but also to improve any changes that are going into live service, even if it is transferring the control of services between customers and service providers. The Service Transition stage brings together all the assets within a service and ensures these are integrated and tested together. Its focus is on the quality and control of the delivery of a new or changed service into operations. Giving sufficient time and quality effort to this stage of the lifecycle will reduce unexpected variations in delivery of the live services. 

Service Operation

The operational teams ensure there are robust end-to-end practices which support responsive and stable services. They provide on-going support unit and they are a strong influencer on how the business perceives the service it receives. A key part of this is the Service Desk that directly own and support incident management and request fulfilment for users, including feedback on user satisfaction. Supporting functions to the Service Desk include business support and administration teams. Specific to IT, there are Application Management, and Technical support teams that contribute to the successful resolution of major incidents that affect the business.

Continual Service Improvement

Continual Service Improvement works with the other four stages of the service lifecycle to align the services with the business needs, whilst recognising improvement opportunities and change. 

About ConnectSphere

ConnectSphere provides consulting and professional development services to help organizations to apply ITIL service management best practices and to improve value delivery. 


ITIL® is a Registered Trade Mark of the Office of Government Commerce in the United Kingdom and other countries

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