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Combining ITIL 4 and Agile best practices for customer focus

Blog posted by: Jonathan Wafford, ITIL 4 Strategic Leader/Managing Professional, 27 July 2022.

Companies are continually looking for ways to solve their service management pain points. However, solutions won’t come from just one source anymore.

Therefore, the key is arriving at the “lightbulb moment” which is about collaboration between people and the various methods they use. Each method is aimed at achieving an outcome for a team based on identifying pain points, the fixes and how value is generated.

In my role as a Service Management Lead It’s about trying to see things from multiple perspectives – including DevOps, Agile project management and ITIL, with the latter focusing on improving value co-creation between teams.

But what are the main challenges in ensuring there is a collaborative way of working between different teams?

Finding common ground and building trust

One of the biggest challenges to creating collaboration between teams is also one of the most normal: “We’ve always done things this way; why should we change?”

If a company wants to really help customers – by putting themselves in their shoes and thinking about how to make the customer experience better – it needs a mindset change among all teams. A mindset change is the most important aspect of an organization’s culture. It defines behaviour that directly impacts relationships with customers. And that involves taking the first step on a journey, producing results and continually improving as you move along.

As ITIL 4 recommends in one of its guiding principles, “progress iteratively with feedback”; gather everyone’s perspective and then choose the approaches that everyone can agree on to deliver a combined, collaborative solution. Pulling together different pieces of the “puzzle” to make a beautiful picture requires common ground and trust between various teams.

Again, the ITIL 4 framework provides the environment for an innovative culture to flourish: allowing people to go places that are best for the company, while offering “guiderails” for safety.

But even an ITIL 4 advocate like me has had to recognize the value of embracing different methods.

Combining ITIL 4 with Scrum

The team I lead is an Agile team, adopting methods such as two-week sprints and retrospectives, etc.

So, recently obtaining PeopleCert’s Scrum Master has given me greater perspective on how the team works. It has also proven to me how ITIL – and indeed PRINCE2 Agile – can work with Scrum and DevOps.

ITIL 4-trained people, I believe, can benefit from iterative, Agile approaches; finding a happy medium between using processes and enabling change, while understanding how standards may look different to each team.

It all goes back to effective collaboration – putting yourself in someone else’s shoes so you can work together better.

Now, having an Agile certification, I can see the differences between this and ITIL and start to bridge the gaps. Ultimately, finding commonality across colleagues in the same and in other teams, plus being cross-trained, is vitally important.

What’s the point of blending different best practice approaches in service management?

Collaborating across different best practice approaches has one, all-encompassing aim: to ensure the common goal of producing results that are better attuned to the customer and delivering valuable outcomes.

If you’re unclear about the value you’re working towards and you’re not adjusting and changing to improve and achieve that for the customer, then you’re sure to be disconnected from both your employees and customers.

By achieving quick wins, demonstrating fixes and producing results you are more likely to encourage people to be open to listening and adopting best practice approaches they may previously have avoided.


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