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ITIL Workforce Talent Management

Updated: Apr 26


An image of workforce talent management

Introduction to Workforce Talent Management


Workforce and talent management within ITIL 4 goes beyond the traditional confines of HR practices. It encapsulates a strategic approach that aligns IT staff's development and management with the organisation's broader objectives and the ITIL framework. This integration is crucial for fostering an environment that supports and accelerates business and IT alignment, driving efficiency, innovation, and competitive advantage. 

Employers who recognize the importance of investing in their workforce have a more productive workforce, a more efficient workforce, a more loyal workforce, less turnover, and, in the private sector, more profitable. - Valerie Jarrett

This article delves into the significance of workforce and talent management within the ITIL 4 framework. It explores its definition, objectives, key components, and processes, providing insight into how it supports IT and business alignment. Moreover, it examines the challenges and best practices for implementing these practices effectively.

A diagram of the changes in ITIL and workforce talent management
Changes in ITIL and workforce talent management

By prioritising workforce and talent management, IT leaders can ensure their teams are well-equipped, motivated, and aligned with the organisation's goals, paving the way for continued success in the digital age.


Maturity Scale of Workforce and Talent Management

Maturity Level



1. Ad-hoc

Workforce and talent management practices are unstructured and inconsistently applied across the organisation.

  • No formal workforce planning or talent management strategies.

  • Reactive recruitment and onboarding processes.

  • Minimal to no alignment of IT staff with business objectives.

  • Lack of defined roles and responsibilities.

  •  Training and development are sporadic and uncoordinated.

2. Basic

Basic workforce and talent management processes are in place but are siloed and not fully aligned with ITIL principles.

  • Initial efforts to align IT staff with business objectives.

  • Some roles and responsibilities are defined.

  • Recruitment and onboarding processes are standardised but not optimised.

  • Ad-hoc training and development based on immediate needs.

  • The beginning of performance measurement is not fully aligned with service management goals.

3. Structured

Workforce and talent management processes are documented and standardised, with efforts to align with ITIL principles.

  • Clear alignment of IT staff with business objectives.

  • Defined roles and responsibilities across IT functions.

  • Systematic recruitment and onboarding processes.

  • Structured training and development programs aligned with skill gaps.

  • Performance measurement systems in place, with some alignment to ITIL service management goals.

4. Managed

Workforce and talent management practices are measured and controlled, with quantitative goals aligned with ITIL principles.

  • Quantitative alignment of IT staff efforts with business and ITIL objectives.

  • Advanced competency and skills management, with ongoing assessment and development.

  • Proactive and strategic workforce planning.

  • Performance management integrated with ITIL service management goals.

  •  Succession planning and talent mobility are actively managed.

5. Optimising

Continuous workforce and talent management improvement, fully integrated and aligned with ITIL principles and organisational objectives.

  • Continuous realignment of workforce strategies with evolving business and ITIL objectives.

  • Organisation-wide commitment to continuous learning and development.

  • Agile and flexible workforce capable of adapting to new technologies and methodologies.<br>- Advanced analytics for predictive talent management.<br>- Fully integrated performance and talent management, driving innovation and competitive advantage.


Understanding Workforce and Talent Management in ITIL 4

Definition and Objectives of Workforce and Talent Management

Workforce and talent management, as defined within ITIL 4, encompasses a broad set of practices to ensure the right people, with the right skills, are in the right place at the right time to meet the organisation's objectives.

It's not merely about recruitment; it's a strategic approach covering the planning, development, and management of IT staff across their entire organisational lifecycle.

Must-Know Talent Management Statistics

  • 40% of companies prioritise workforce analytics within talent management.

  • 42% of talent management professionals believe their organisations lack a defined career path for employees.

  • Only 28% of organisations feel ready to effectively manage today’s diverse, multi-generational talent. (more...)

The primary objectives of workforce and talent management in ITIL 4 include:



Aligning IT Staff with Business Objectives

Ensuring that the skills and efforts of IT personnel are directly contributing to the organisation's goals.

Enhancing Agility and Flexibility

Building a workforce capable of adapting to changes in technology and business practices with minimal disruption.

Fostering Continuous Improvement

Promoting a culture of ongoing learning and development to enhance the capabilities of the IT staff continually.



A software development company embarked on a strategic initiative to align its IT staff's skills and efforts with its strategic objectives; including expanding into new markets and developing machine learning elements within their application.

The strategy involved conducting a strategic skills assessment, organising alignment workshops between IT staff and senior management, and creating personalised development plans to bridge skills gaps.

This approach was supported by regular review sessions driven by the HR team to ensure ongoing alignment.

Within a year, they saw a dramatic improvement in projects directly supporting key business goals instead of side-of-desk or pet projects. This alignment led to improved employee engagement, as they could see the direct line from their work to the goals (and their bonuses). It was instrumental in successful market expansion and the launch of its AI analysis features, demonstrating the effectiveness of workforce and talent management in achieving business objectives.


The Role of Workforce and Talent Management in Supporting IT and Business Alignment

Aligning IT and business objectives is a core ITIL principle, and effective workforce and talent management plays a crucial role in achieving this. By ensuring that IT staff are skilled and aligned with the organisation's strategic goals, IT services can be more effectively planned, delivered, and managed.

This alignment involves a thorough understanding of the business's needs and strategic direction. Therefore, workforce and talent management practices must be flexible and responsive, capable of adapting to new strategies, technologies, and methodologies. This adaptability is essential for maintaining the relevance and effectiveness of IT services, thereby supporting the organisation's overall success.

Key Components of Workforce and Talent Management

Effective workforce and talent management is built upon several foundational components. Each playing a vital role in ensuring the IT staff is aligned with the organisation's objectives and possesses the skills necessary to meet the demands of their roles. 

A diagram of the key components of workforce talent management
An overview of the key components

Planning and Recruitment

Planning and recruitment form the cornerstone of effective workforce management.

This component identifies the skills and roles required to meet current and future IT service delivery needs.

Strategic workforce planning ensures the organisation can anticipate and fill skills gaps by training existing staff or recruiting new talent.

Recruitment, on the other hand, focuses on attracting the right talent with the necessary skills and cultural fit to thrive within the organisation.


When facing challenges in meeting project objectives due to a shortage of skilled developers in emerging technologies, consider initiating a strategic workforce planning exercise.

Conduct a skills gap analysis to identify the specific expertise needed, such as cloud computing or machine learning.

Align your recruitment strategy with these findings and target your recruitment efforts towards tech universities and online platforms known for strong communities in these areas.

This approach can help you attract the right talent and potentially reduce project delays, positioning your organisation for future growth.


Onboarding and Development

Once new talent is onboarded, the focus shifts to integration and development.

Onboarding is critical for new employees to understand the organisational culture, their role, and how they contribute to broader objectives.

Development extends beyond initial training to encompass continuous learning opportunities, enabling staff to keep pace with technological advancements and evolving service management practices, fostering a culture of continuous improvement.

The onboarding and development process
The onboarding and development process


If new employees feel overwhelmed by the complexity of your products and the industry regulations, redesign your onboarding process to include a comprehensive orientation program.

This program should combine product training, regulatory compliance workshops, and shadowing experiences with seasoned employees.

A continuous development plan should also be introduced that includes access to online courses and regular innovation workshops to encourage ongoing learning. This strategy can increase employee preparedness and confidence, increasing satisfaction and performance.


Performance Measurement

Measuring and managing performance is essential for ensuring accountability and driving excellence.

Performance measurement in the context of ITIL goes beyond traditional metrics, encompassing individual contributions to projects and their alignment with service management goals.

Feedback mechanisms and regular reviews help identify areas for improvement, ensuring that the workforce remains focused on delivering value to the organisation and its customers.

Performance measurement stages
Performance measurement stages


To better align individual performance with your company's strategic goals, consider overhauling your performance measurement system.

Adopt a balanced scorecard approach that includes metrics for customer satisfaction, process improvement, and innovation alongside traditional productivity measures.

Encourage employees to set personal development goals related to these areas.

This approach can lead to a more motivated workforce, improved customer satisfaction, and enhanced process efficiency.


Succession Planning

Succession planning ensures that the organisation is prepared for the future, with strategies in place to address the potential departure of key personnel.

It involves identifying and developing internal talent to fill critical roles, ensuring continuity and reducing the impact of turnover.

IT teams are particularly vulnerable to knowledge erosion, so it is important to ensure good succession planning alongside knowledge management practices.

By preparing for these eventualities, organisations can ultimately maintain the stability and resilience of their IT service delivery.


Implementing a focused succession planning strategy is crucial for roles like Senior Technical Support Analysts, who may have accumulated a wealth of specialised skills and knowledge.

Identify potential successors within your team or organisation who show aptitude and interest in technical support and specialised areas of expertise.

Develop a mentorship program where the senior analyst can transfer knowledge through regular one-on-one sessions, shadowing opportunities, and hands-on project involvement.

Additionally, create a tailored development plan for these successors, including specialised training courses and certifications relevant to the role.

 This approach ensures continuity of service and preserves critical technical knowledge within your organisation.


Processes in Workforce and Talent Management

Several key processes support workforce and talent management within ITIL

  • Organisational Planning: Aligning workforce strategy with business objectives and organisational design.

  • Employees' Journey Management: Managing the employee lifecycle from onboarding to offboarding, ensuring each phase supports the individual's and the organisation's growth.

  • Talent Management: Assessing and developing competencies to meet the current and future needs of the organisation, ensuring a fit between individual aspirations and business requirements.

These processes are interconnected, transforming inputs into outputs through a defined sequence of actions.

Organisational Planning

The organisational planning process is important for defining and implementing an organisation-wide workforce and talent management strategy.

This strategic approach is continually maintained and aligned with the organisation's evolving direction. It includes several key activities:


Organisational planning flow
Organisational planning flow


Strategic Analysis and Service Value Chain Analysis

These activities involve thoroughly analysing the organisation's strategy, principles, and service value chain.

The goal is to ensure that the IT workforce and talent management practices are fully aligned with the organisation's objectives and capable of supporting its value streams.

Organisational Design

This activity focuses on planning and agreeing on the IT workforce and talent management strategy.

It includes documenting guidelines and obtaining approval from relevant stakeholders.

The output is a program of organisational changes and improvement initiatives to enhance the workforce's efficiency and effectiveness.

Initiating and Monitoring Organisational Changes

This involves implementing approved organisational changes through various practices like organisational change management and project management.

Progress is closely monitored, reported, and corrected as needed to ensure the desired outcomes are achieved.

Organisation Monitoring and Review

The IT workforce and talent management practice are regularly analysed to identify areas for improvement.

This ensures the practice remains aligned with the organisation's strategy and continues to effectively meet its needs.


Employees' Journey Management

This process focuses on managing the end-to-end employee journey within the organisation, from recruitment to offboarding.

Its goal is to ensure all employee journeys are relevant and contribute positively to the experience and follow a journey model.

A "journey model" refers to a conceptual framework or methodology used to map out, understand, and manage the various stages and experiences an employee goes through during their tenure at an organisation. This model encompasses all phases of an employee's association with the company, from recruitment (onboarding) to offboarding (exit), including development, engagement, and organisational transitions.

Key activities summary:

Employee Journey Management Process
Employee Journey Management Process

Segmenting the Workforce and Identifying Employee Journey Models

This involves understanding the demand for the workforce and segmenting employees accordingly to apply the appropriate journey model.

Verifying and Adjusting the Employee Journey Model

The selected model is reviewed and adjusted to fit the situation's specifics and the organisation's needs.

Following the Model and Managing Exceptions

The agreed-upon model is followed, with exceptions handled in line with the organisation's values and culture. This ensures a flexible yet structured approach to employee management.

Reviewing the Journey

Regular reviews of the employee journey models are conducted to update them based on feedback, changing requirements, and new opportunities.


Imagine Alex's journey as a new software developer at a technology company. The employee journey model for Alex begins with the Recruitment and Onboarding Phase, where Alex is introduced to the company's culture, values, and expectations through a series of welcome meetings and orientation sessions. This phase is designed to ensure a smooth transition into the company and to build a strong foundation for Alex's future development.

The journey model focuses on growth and learning opportunities as Alex progresses to the Development and Engagement Phase. Alex is enrolled in a mentorship program and given access to professional development courses tailored to software developers. Regular check-ins with a manager help gauge Alex's engagement and satisfaction, ensuring Alex feels valued and supported.

The Transition Phase in Alex's journey occurs when Alex expresses interest in working on a new project that involves artificial intelligence, a departure from the initial role. The journey model accommodates this by facilitating a cross-functional team experience, allowing Alex to explore new skills and collaborate with different departments.

Finally, the Offboarding Phase might be many years later when Alex decides to pursue opportunities outside the company. The model ensures a positive and respectful transition, with exit interviews designed to gather feedback and insights to improve future employees' journeys.

Throughout Alex's tenure, the employee journey model adapts to changes in career aspirations, life circumstances, and the organisation's evolving needs. Regular reviews of the journey model allow the organisation to refine and improve the employee experience, ensuring that the workforce remains engaged, motivated, and aligned with the company's goals.


Talent Management

Talent management ensures the organisation possesses the competencies to fulfil its current and future needs.

The process activities;

The Talent Management Process
Talent Management Process

Defining a Competency Vision

Collaboratively identify key organisational competencies' vision, considering internal and industry benchmarks.

Competency Assessment

Assessing the current competencies within the organisation, identifying gaps, risks, and development opportunities.

Planning Development and Optimisation

Designing competency development programs integrated into employee journey models and supporting professional development.

Steering the Development Programme

Overseeing the realisation of development programs, collecting feedback, and making adjustments as necessary to ensure alignment with the competency vision.

Managing Exceptions and Reviewing the Programme

Handling exceptions and regularly reviewing the competency development program to ensure it remains aligned with the organisation's needs and objectives.


Picture a technology company which aims to enhance its workforce's cloud computing skills to maintain a competitive edge in developing innovative software solutions.

The talent management process begins with defining a competency vision focused on becoming an industry leader in cloud-based technologies.

An assessment of the current workforce identifies significant gaps in advanced cloud skills, leading to the design of a competency development program. This program includes hands-on workshops, support for obtaining industry certifications, and a mentorship initiative, all integrated into the employees' journey models to ensure continuous professional development.

The HR department, in collaboration with technical leadership, oversees the program, making adjustments based on feedback to align with the company's competency vision.

Regular reviews and flexibility in managing exceptions ensure the program remains relevant and effective, positioning the company as a leader in cloud solutions and ready to meet future challenges.


Integrating Workforce and Talent Management into the ITIL 4 Service Value Chain

The ITIL 4 framework introduces the Service Value Chain (SVC), a flexible model for creating, delivering, and continually improving services.

Workforce and talent management are integral to the SVC. They ensure that the right people with the right skills are involved in every step of the service lifecycle.

This section explores how workforce and talent management practices enhance service management practices and support the development and delivery of digital products and services.


Impact on Service Management Practices

Effective workforce and talent management has a profound impact on all aspects of service management.

By ensuring that employees are well-aligned with the organisation's goals, skilled, and motivated, organisations can improve efficiency, innovation, and customer satisfaction.

Alignment is crucial for:

  • Design and Transition: Ensuring that services are designed with the end user in mind and that transitions are smooth and efficient.

  • Operation and Delivery: Improving the reliability and quality of service delivery.

  • Continual Improvement: Fostering a culture of innovation and continuous improvement, driving the evolution of services in line with customer needs and technological advancements.

Enhancing Digital Product Development and Service Delivery

Developing and delivering digital products and services are increasingly central to organisational success. Therefore, workforce and talent management practices must support agility, flexibility, and a culture of continuous learning. This involves:

  • Developing digital competencies and a mindset geared towards innovation and adaptation.

  • Encouraging collaboration across teams and disciplines to break down silos and enhance service delivery.

  • Leveraging technology and automation to streamline processes, freeing human resources to focus on areas where they can add the most value.


Challenges and Considerations

Implementing effective workforce and talent management within the ITIL 4 framework presents several challenges.

Organisations must navigate these complexities with agility and adaptability to harness the full potential of their IT workforce.

This section explores common implementation challenges and provides insights into overcoming them.

Overcoming Common Implementation Challenges

Several challenges can impede the effective implementation of workforce and talent management practices, including:

  • Resistance to Change: Implementing new practices or changing existing ones can meet resistance from staff accustomed to traditional ways of working. Overcoming this requires clear communication of the benefits and providing support throughout the transition process.

  • Skill Gaps: Rapid technological advancements can lead to skill gaps within the IT workforce. Continuously identifying and addressing these gaps through training and development is crucial.

  • Alignment with Business Objectives: Ensuring workforce and talent management strategies align with overall business objectives requires ongoing collaboration between IT and business leaders.

Navigating the Complexities of a VUCA World

The VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity) nature of today's business environment adds another layer of complexity to workforce and talent management.

Organisations must be agile and adaptable, responding quickly to technological changes, market demands, and other external factors. This necessitates a workforce that is not only skilled but also resilient and flexible.

Best Practices for Effective Workforce and Talent Management

To navigate these challenges successfully, organisations can adopt several best practices:

  • Cultivating a Culture of Continuous Learning and Improvement: Encouraging and facilitating continuous professional development helps keep skills relevant and enhances the organisation's adaptive capacity.

  • Leveraging Technology and Automation: Using technology to automate routine tasks frees staff to focus on more strategic activities that add value to the business and its customers.

  • Fostering Agility and Flexibility: Implementing agile workforce management practices allows organisations to respond swiftly to changes, ensuring they remain competitive in a rapidly evolving landscape.

Adopting these practices requires a concerted effort from all levels of the organisation, from executive leadership to frontline staff.

By addressing challenges and considerations head-on, organisations can maximise the effectiveness of their workforce and talent management practices, driving success in the digital age.


Key Performance Indicators




Measurement Method

Alignment of IT Staff with Business Objectives

The degree to which IT staff skills and efforts contribute towards achieving organisational goals.

To ensure IT staff work on projects and tasks that directly support the organisation's strategic objectives.

Survey of project alignment with business goals, review of individual objectives and contributions towards strategic initiatives.

Staff Agility and Flexibility Index

The ability of the workforce to adapt to changes in technology and business practices.

To build a workforce capable of adjusting quickly to new technologies, methodologies, and business needs with minimal disruption.

Number of staff who have undergone cross-functional training, speed of deployment to new projects or technologies.

Continuous Improvement Participation Rate

The percentage of IT staff actively engaged in learning and development activities.

To promote a culture of ongoing learning and development, enhancing the capabilities of the IT staff.

Attendance in training programs, certifications achieved, participation in innovation initiatives.

Employee Satisfaction and Engagement Score

Satisfaction and engagement among IT staff are measured through surveys and feedback.

To maintain a motivated and engaged workforce aligned with the organisation's culture and goals.

Annual employee satisfaction surveys, engagement metrics, and turnover rates.

Skill Gap Closure Rate

The rate at which identified skill gaps are addressed through training or recruitment.

Ensure the IT workforce possesses the necessary skills to meet current and future demands.

Number of skill gaps identified vs. gaps addressed, time taken to close skill gaps.

Performance Alignment with ITIL Goals

The extent to which individual performance contributes to achieving ITIL service management goals.

To ensure that all IT staff activities are aligned with the principles and objectives of ITIL v4, enhancing service delivery and management.

Performance reviews, alignment of individual KPIs with ITIL v4 objectives, and feedback from service management processes.

Succession Planning Effectiveness

The readiness of the organisation to fill critical roles from within in the event of turnover.

To ensure continuity and reduce the impact of turnover by preparing internal talent for critical positions.

The number of roles with identified successors, time to fill critical roles internally vs. externally, and employee readiness levels.

An empowered and enriched workforce is the backbone of a company's success framework. - Ananya Birla  


The importance of effective workforce and talent management cannot be overstated in the rapidly evolving landscape of information technology and digital services. Within the ITIL 4 framework, this practice is foundational for aligning IT services with business objectives and ensuring the agility, resilience, and continuous improvement necessary for long-term success.

The strategic management of the IT workforce—ensuring the right people with the right skills are in the right roles at the right time—is crucial for navigating the complexities of the digital age. From planning and recruitment to development and performance measurement, each workforce and talent management component is vital in building a flexible and competent team capable of driving innovation and delivering value.

However, as we have explored, implementing these practices has challenges. The dynamic nature of technology, coupled with the volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA) world we operate in, requires IT leaders to be agile and forward-thinking. Overcoming common implementation challenges and leveraging best practices, such as cultivating a culture of continuous learning and leveraging technology for automation, are essential for success.

As ITIL 4 continues to guide organisations in effective IT service management, integrating workforce and talent management into the Service Value Chain becomes increasingly essential. By prioritising this practice, IT leaders can ensure their teams are prepared for today's challenges and equipped to seize tomorrow's opportunities.

In conclusion, workforce and talent management within ITIL 4 is not just a set of HR practices but a strategic imperative. By embracing these practices, organisations can enhance their service management capabilities, foster a culture of continuous improvement, and ultimately achieve sustained organisational success in the digital era.


This article discusses concepts and practices from the ITIL framework, a registered trademark of AXELOS Limited. The information provided here is based on the ITIL version 4 guidelines and is only intended for educational and informational purposes. ITIL is a comprehensive framework for IT service management, and its methodologies and best practices are designed to facilitate the effective and efficient delivery of IT services. For those interested in exploring ITIL further, we recommend consulting the official ITIL publications and resources provided by AXELOS Limited.



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