Goals and Functions of the IT Service Lifecycle Phases

Published: April 25, 2008   |   Updated: October 10, 2008


The following sections discuss the goals and functions of each phase and how the particular SMFs within that phase achieve their objectives.

Plan Phase

Figure 4 illustrates the Plan Phase.


Figure 4. Plan Phase

During the Plan Phase business and IT work together to determine how IT will deliver valuable services that enable the organization to succeed. Doing that requires:

  • Understanding the business strategy and requirements and how the current IT services support the business.
  • Understanding what reliability means to this organization and how it will be measured and improved, as well as reviewing and taking action to improve the current state where needed.
  • Understanding the organization’s policy requirements and how they affect the IT strategy.
  • Providing the financial structure to support the IT work and drive the right decisions.
  • Creating an IT strategy that provides value to the business strategy and making portfolio decisions accordingly.

The goal of the Plan Phase is to make the right decisions about IT strategy and the project portfolio, ensuring that the delivered services have the following attributes and outcomes:

  • Are valuable and compelling in terms of business goals
  • Are predictable and reliable
  • Are cost-effective
  • Are in compliance with policies
  • Can adapt to the changing needs of the business
  • The following SMFs support the primary activities of the Plan Phase.

Table 2. Plan Phase SMFs




Business/IT Alignment

Deliverable: IT service strategy


  • Deliver the right set of services as perceived by the business


  • IT Service Portfolio that is mapped to business processes, functions, and capabilities 
  • Services that support the business needs
  • Knowledge of service demand and usage
  • Customer satisfaction


Deliverable: IT standards


  • Ensure  that service capacity, service availability, service continuity, and data integrity are aligned to business needs in a cost-effective manner


  • Reliability plans
  • Reliability performance reports
  • Predictable services


Deliverable: IT policies


  • Efficiently define and manage IT policies required


  • Documented IT polices that are mapped to business policies
  • IT policies required for the effective management of IT
  • Policies documented for the following areas:
    • Security
    • Privacy
    • Appropriate use
    • Partner and third-party management
    • Asset protection

Financial Management

Deliverable: IT financial planning and measurement


  • Accurately predict, account for, and optimize costs of required resources to deliver end-to-end IT services


  • Accurate accounting of IT expenditures
  • Costs mapped to IT services
  • Budget that supports IT- required investments
  • Model to determine IT investment opportunities and predict lifecycle costs

Deliver Phase

Figure 5 illustrates the Deliver Phase.


Figure 5. Deliver Phase

Once you have a solid plan for IT service strategy in place, you can begin to create new or updated IT services. The goal of the Deliver Phase is to help IT professionals work within a project management discipline to build, stabilize, and deploy IT services, applications, and infrastructure improvements in the most efficient way possible.

Think of the IT service lifecycle as a continuum: it begins with the efforts of IT to understand the services that the business needs and ends with those services operating in a production environment. The Deliver Phase, then, is the part of the continuum where changes to the services are planned, designed, built, and deployed.

Goals of the Deliver Phase

The primary goals of the Deliver phase are to ensure that IT services, infrastructure projects, or packaged product deployments are envisioned, planned, built, stabilized, and deployed in line with the organization’s requirements and the customer’s specifications.

Specifically, that means ensuring that the project team:

  • Captures the business needs and requirements prior to planning a solution.
  • Prepares a functional specification and solution design.
  • Develops work plans, cost estimates, and schedules for the deliverables.
  • Builds the solution to the customer’s specification, so that all features are complete, and the solution is ready for external testing and stabilization.
  • Releases the highest-quality solution by performing thorough testing and release-candidate piloting.
  • Deploys a stable solution to the production environment and stabilizes the solution in production.
  • Prepares the operations and support teams to manage and provide customer service for the solution.

The following SMFs support the primary activities of the Deliver Phase:

Table 3. Deliver Phase SMFs





Deliverable: Vision document


  • Clearly communicate the project’s vision, scope, and risk


  • Vision and scope of the project are clearly documented and understood by the team and the customer
  • Conceptual design of the proposed solution is recorded as part of the vision document
  • Project’s risks are documented and understood by the team and the customer

Project Planning

Deliverable: Project plan document


  • Obtain agreement from the project team, customer, and stakeholders that all interim milestones have been met, that the project plans reflect the customer’s needs, and that the plans are realistic


  • The design and features of the solution are clearly documented in the functional specification
  • The design and features of the solution are traceable to business, user, operational, and system requirements


Deliverable: Developed solution


  • Build a solution that meets the customer’s expectations and specifications as defined in the functional specification


  • A final design that meets business, user, operational, and system requirements
  • A solution that meets the customer’s expectations and specifications as defined in the functional specification


Deliverable: Tested and stable solution


  • Resolve all issues found by testing and through pilot feedback, and release a high-quality solution that meets the customer’s expectations and specifications as defined in the functional specification


  • All issues found by testing and through pilot feedback are resolved
  • A high-quality solution that meets the customer’s expectations and specifications as defined in the functional specification


Deliverable: Service in operation


  • Deploy a stable solution that satisfies the customer, and successfully transfer it from the project team to the operations and support teams


  • A stable solution deployed into the production environment
  • A customer who is satisfied with and accepts the deployed solution
  • A solution successfully transferred from the project team to the operations and support teams


Operate Phase

Figure 6 illustrates the Operate phase.


Figure 6. Operate Phase

The Operate Phase of the IT service lifecycle represents the culmination of the two phases that precede it. The Operate Phase focuses on what to do after the services are in place.

After an IT service has been successfully deployed, ensuring that it operates to meet business needs and expectations becomes the top priority. This is the focus of the Operate Phase, which depends on four primary endeavors:

  • Effective ongoing management of the service
  • Proactive and ongoing monitoring of its health
  • Effective and readily available help to assist with use of the service
  • Restoration of a service to health when things go wrong

The primary goal of the Operate Phase is to ensure that deployed services are operated, maintained, and supported in line with the service level agreement (SLA) targets that have been agreed to by the business and IT.

Specifically, that means ensuring:

  • That IT services are available by improving IT staff use and better managing workload. 
  • That IT services are monitored to provide real-time observation of health conditions, and ensuring that team members are trained to handle any problems efficiently and quickly.
  • That IT services are restored quickly and effectively.

The following SMFs support the primary activities of the Operate Phase:

Table 4. Operate Phase SMFs





Deliverable: Operations guide


  • Ensure that the work required to successfully operate IT services has been identified and described
  • Free up time for the operations staff by reducing reactive work
  • Minimize service disruptions and downtime
  • Execute recurring IT operations work effectively and efficiently


  • Improved efficiency of IT staff
  • Increased IT service availability
  • Improved operations of new/changed IT services
  • Reduction of reactive work

Service Monitoring and Control

Deliverable: IT health monitoring data


  • Observe the health of IT services
  • Initiate remedial actions to minimize the impact of service incidents and system events


  • Improved overall availability of services
  • Reduced number of SLA and OLA breaches
  • Improved understanding of the infrastructure components responsible for delivery of the service
  • Improvement in user satisfaction with the service
  • Quicker and more effective responses to service incidents

Customer Service

Deliverable: Effective assistance for service users


  • Provide a positive experience to the users of a service
  • Address complaints or issues


  • Maintained levels of business productivity
  • Increased value added by IT
  • Improved business functionality, competitiveness, and efficiency

Problem Management

Deliverable: Effective problem resolution process


  • Provide root cause analysis to find problems
  • Predict future problems


  • Reduced number of incidents and problems that occur, and lessened impact of those that do occur
  • Increased number of workarounds and permanent solutions to identified problems
  • More problems resolved earlier or avoided entirely

Manage Layer

Figure 7 illustrates the Manage Layer.


Figure 7. Manage Layer

The Manage layer integrates the decision making, risk management, and change management processes that occur throughout the IT service lifecycle. It also contains the processes related to defining accountability and associated roles.

The Manage Layer represents the foundation for all phases of the lifecycle. The Manage Layer promotes consistency in planning and delivering IT services and provides the basis for developing and operating a resilient IT environment.

The primary goal of the Manage Layer is to establish an integrated approach to IT service management activities. This approach helps to coordinate processes described throughout the three lifecycle phases: Plan, Deliver, and Operate. This coordination is enhanced through:

  • Development of decision making processes.
  • Use of risk management and controls as part of all processes.
  • Promotion of change and configuration processes that are controlled.
  • Division of work so that accountabilities are clear and do not conflict.

Specific guidance is provided to increase the likelihood that:

  • The investment in IT delivers the expected business value.
  • Investment and resource allocation decisions involve the appropriate people.
  • There is an acceptable level of risk.
  • Controlled and documented processes are used.
  • Accountabilities are communicated and their ownership is apparent.
  • Policies and internal controls are effective and reliable.

Meeting these goals is most likely to be achieved if IT works toward:

  • Explicit IT governance structures and processes.
  • The IT organization and the business organization sharing a common approach to risk management.
  • Regularly scheduled management reviews of policies and internal controls.

The following SMFs support the primary activities of the Manage Layer:

Table 5. The Manage Layer SMFs




Governance, Risk, and Compliance

Deliverable: IT objectives achieved, change and risk managed and documented

Purpose: Support, sustain, and grow the organization while managing risks and constraints


IT services are seamlessly matched to business strategy and objectives

Change and Configuration

Deliverable: Known configurations and predictable adaptations

Purpose: Ensure that changes are planned, that unplanned changes are minimal, and that IT services are robust


IT services are predictable, reliable, and trustworthy


Deliverable: Clear accountabilities, roles, and work assignments

Purpose: Agile, flexible, and scalable teams doing required work


IT solutions are delivered within specified constraints, with no unplanned service degradation

Service operation that is trusted by the business

The following list describes how each of the Manage Layer SMFs can be applied to the phases of the IT services lifecycle:

  • The Plan Phase purpose is getting business and IT to productively work together. In this phase, the focus of GRC is on the clear communication of strategy, IT decisions being made by the desired stakeholders, and an overall consideration of risk and benefits in terms of the service portfolio. Change management is oriented to issues related to program plans and approaches to initiatives. Plan accountabilities described in the Team SMF are Service and Architecture.
  • The Deliver Phase is focused on building the desired solution in the right way. Here, GRC is focused on project scope decisions, project stakeholder involvement, and project risks. Change management is also project-focused, often driving risk management activity for each project. The Deliver accountability described in the Team SMF is Solution,
  • The Operate Phase is primarily focused on the daily running and service delivery tasks of IT. In this phase, GRC focuses on capturing information from processes and applications, as well as on demonstrating compliance to policy and regulations. Change management is applied to minimize unplanned changes, preserving service performance and availability, and smoothly introducing standard changes. Operate accountabilities described in the Team SMF are Operations and Support.

There is also an interrelationship among the Manage SMFs themselves. The Change and Configuration SMF processes provide information needed for the Governance, Risk, and Compliance (GRC) SMF processes. In turn, the GRC SMF helps determine who is involved in change management, defines the process for identifying, evaluating, and managing risk associated with the change, ensures that changes reflect policy, and documents these changes appropriately. The Manage accountabilities described in the Team SMF are Management and Compliance.

Objectives, Risks, and Controls

To ensure that the work done in each phase of the IT service lifecycle meets its key objectives, MOF identifies internal controls to minimize the risks to those objectives. Controls are processes and procedures put in place in each phase to ensure that the tasks are performed as expected and that management objectives can be achieved. Many of the controls are driven by the management reviews.

Further information about controls can be found in the Manage Layer Overview. The specific controls to ensure that the work performed in each phase is completed as agreed are described in the individual phase overview documents.