ITIL - Introduction to Service Operations Tutorial

Welcome to the tenth chapter of the ITIL Foundation tutorial (part of the ITIL® Foundation Certification Training).

This chapter provides an overview of the service operations phase of IT Service Management or ITSM. It will help in the effective functioning of components that support IT services.


After completing this lesson, you will be able to:

  • Describe the purpose, objective and scope of service operations phase

  • List the principles of communication

  • Explain events, alerts, and incidents

Service Operations - Overview

Service operations phase is responsible for executing processes that optimize the cost and quality of services to the required standard. It is also responsible for supporting the business to meet its objectives.

Let us understand the purpose, objective and scope of service operations.


Service operations phase has various purposes. It helps to:

  • Coordinate and perform activities and processes.

  • Deliver and manage services at agreed levels to meet the business users’ and customers’ requirements.

  • Manage technology that is used to deliver and support services.


The primary objectives of service operations phase are to:

  • Maintain business satisfaction

  • Deliver effective and efficient IT services

  • Reduce the impact of a service outage

  • Safeguard the access to IT services for authorized users.


Service operations phase provides guidance in areas such as services, service management processes, technology and people.

Services are the activities included in service operations. The service provider, an external supplier or the user or customer of that service can perform such activities.

Service management processes are ongoing management and execution processes performed in service operations phase. All services need some form of technology for their delivery.

Handling this technology is an integral part of the management services themselves. People manage all processes and technology and drive the demand for an organization’s services and products.

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Role of Communication

Now we will discuss the role of communication.

Good communication is a part of every organization. Often issues between business partners, clients, and customers are mitigated or avoided with the help of good communication.

An important principle of communication is that it must have an intended purpose or a resultant action. It should not take place unless there is a clear audience and they take part in it actively.

Types of Communication

Some types of communication are typical of service operations.

They are:

  • Routine operational communication

  • Communication between shifts

  • Performance reporting

  • Training on new or customized processes and service designs

Routine operational communication

Routine operational communication includes incident tickets resolved on time and communication between service desk and users or technical teams.

Communication between shifts

Communication between shifts includes the shift handover reports.

Performance reporting

Performance reporting is the communication related to emergencies such as outage or service downtime notifications to users and customers.

Training on new or customized processes and service designs

Training on new or customized processes and service designs is another form of communication-related to service operations.


Let us now discuss the types of events.

An event can be defined as any change of state of a CI or component of the service that is relevant to the delivery of the service. Events are typically notifications created by an IT service, Configuration Item or CI or a monitoring tool.

Events can be classified into three types such as informational, warning and exception.

Informational events

Informational events are the ones that indicate a normal operation, for example, a user logging in to use an application.

Warning events

Warning events are those that signal an unusual but not an exceptional operation. It provides an indication that the situation requires a little more supervision.

Example: Utilization of a server’s memory reaches five percent of its highest acceptable level.

Exceptional events

Exceptional events are those that indicate an abnormal operation. Example: A user tries to log in to an application with an incorrect password.

Alerts and Incidents

Events can be classified into alerts and incidents.


An alert is a warning that a failure has occurred. Often alerts are created and managed by system management tools. The event management process manages the alerts.

The objective of an alert is to notify the concerned stakeholders so that an action can be taken to correct the situation.

For example, when you log in to a bank's website or perform a transaction there, you receive an email alert.


An incident is an unplanned interruption of an IT service or a reduction in the quality of an IT service. It is the failure of an IT component that has not yet affected the service but can disrupt the service if left unchecked.

An incident can be raised by IT support teams. Incidents are managed by incident management process.

For example, the failure of a server in a clustered mode is considered as an incident.

It should be noted that all alerts are events, but not all events trigger alerts. All incidents are events, but not all events are incidents.

Problems and Workarounds

Now let us focus on problems and workarounds.

The process of managing problems and solutions to the problems is called problem management.


In the context of ITIL®, the problem is the cause of one or more incidents or potential incidents. The cause may not be known at the time of occurrence of the incident. Problems are classified and categorized as incidents. They are documented in problem records.


A workaround is a temporary way to restore service failures to an operational level, for example, rebooting a server. You may not know why the server failed, but if you reboot the server, the service is restored.

Workarounds are used for reducing or eliminating the impact of an incident or a problem for which full resolution is not yet available. Workarounds for incidents that do not have associated problem records are documented in the incident record. Whereas, workarounds for problems are documented in known error records. Incident or problem records are created in the service management tool.

Known Error and Known Error Database

Following are the facts related to Known Error and Known Error Database:

Known Error

When there is an incident and the solution to it is not known, it is called Known Error or KE. Once there is a problem at hand, based on the priority, the effort is spent to find the root cause of the issue.

A temporary fix or a workaround might be used to restore services to a usable level for the time being. The moment a workaround or root cause of the problem is found, it is called Known Error. The IT services are aware of the issue. Known Errors are managed throughout their lifecycle with the help of problem management process.

Development teams or suppliers may also identify Known Errors.

Example: Application incompatibility reports for Windows by Microsoft

Known Error Database

A database is created for Known Errors, workarounds, and their solutions. This database is called Known Error Database or KEDB. It helps in faster diagnosis and resolution of incidents, by implementing a workaround. This database gives the exact details of the fault and the symptoms.


Now we will discuss impact, urgency, and priority of ITIL Foundation.


Priority refers to the relative importance of an incident, problem or change. It is used to identify required times for actions to be taken.

For example, the Service Level Agreement or SLA may state that priority 2 incidents must be resolved within 12 hours. Priority is calculated based on the impact and urgency of the issue.


The impact is the measure of effect the issue has on the business processes of IT service support.


Urgency refers to how soon the issue can be handled.

Priority = Impact + Urgency

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Let us summarize what we have learned in this lesson:

  • The purpose of service operations phase is to coordinate and carry out activities and processes.

  • Any communication must have an intended purpose or a resultant action. It should include active participation of the audience.

  • There are three types of events, such as informational, warning and exception.

  • The process of managing problems and their workarounds is called problem management.


Next, we will focus on the eleventh chapter Service Operations Processes.

  • Disclaimer
  • PMP, PMI, PMBOK, CAPM, PgMP, PfMP, ACP, PBA, RMP, SP, and OPM3 are registered marks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.

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