ITIL® and DevOps – better together
Blog posted by: Leif Andersson: Change leader, coach and facilitator – IlluminEight, 22 September 2017.
In the world of best practice frameworks there is a risk that people jump on the latest thing, believing a particular framework is the answer to all their problems. As a species it seems we chase the one, universal quick-fix that doesn’t exist!
As an expert who’s been working with a range of frameworks for many years – including ITIL®, DevOps, Lean and Business Relationship Management (BRM) – I think this is a huge problem that prevents value creation for our businesses.
I still see this “hype” today, such as the idea that using DevOps means you can forget ITIL. This belief might take hold because practitioners haven’t seen the big “wow” factor they’re looking for and end up seeking something “sensational”. And although larger companies – certainly in Sweden – are not dismissing ITIL, they are losing focus while hunting for new frameworks.
In fact, I think you must keep what you have, what you are already good at and add what you need from other frameworks. A framework is only useful when it is adapted to the organization’s need – whatever the name of the framework.
Taking the business perspective
To overcome the risks of this framework hype, it’s necessary for companies to consider things from a business perspective and take a holistic, long-term approach.
For example, if a CEO were to look at the IT department and see that something was working well, why should IT stop doing that in favour of starting over with something completely new? So rather than stopping ITIL, the service catalogue and incident management, why not add DevOps, Agile and BRM?
Without a more framework-agnostic approach, what can happen is what I’ve seen in some companies more recently with DevOps: you can end up with organizations going in two different directions – one part with development focusing on Agile and DevOps and the other part working with legacy applications. Although DevOps is meant to involve the old legacy operations I have seen several companies ignoring the legacy and just going for the new, cool stuff. Failing to work together creates huge issues, meaning that organizations are less able to realize their goals and causing infrastructure problems. Clearly, users experience problems too.
In the case of DevOps, it needs incident management and a well-functioning change process to be effective. As it tends to be more product-focused, it benefits from an ITIL approach to support the service perspective. BRM is also complementary, lifting and aligning IT with the wider business and focusing on value and strategic partnership.
Bringing business and IT together
When people from different departments and at various levels in a company and IT meet and start to talk to each other, good things happen! We need to build trust between the business and IT so we can start to discuss strategic issues, not just throwing breached SLAs at each other.
Discussing and collaborating on different perceptions of a problems can be a huge success, regardless of which framework you’re using.
But who should be responsible for bringing all sides together and how?
Previously, it was the responsibility of the CIO to solve everything. Today, the CEO and the board need to take greater ownership of organizational issues involving IT, though they need help to understand what’s happening and what the solutions are.
I see BRM as occupying a key role in helping the CEO to understand what the IT department can enable and ensure that IT knows it is enabling value in the business.
The latest ITIL certification – ITIL Practitioner – helps as it has a focus on value which is extremely important for all sides to understand. Knowing the value of services we deliver is an important key for motivating people and “ITIL practitioners” are a key in this. The 9 Guiding Principles are also essential in supporting the concepts of Continual Service Improvement and organizational change management.
From what I’ve witnessed here in Sweden with ITIL initiatives, organizations need to be better at implementing processes correctly. That includes training people how to use new processes, setting up tools and managing attitude and behaviour. This probably falls under the umbrella of programme management rather than project management, as it involves the realization of benefits.
Organizations are probably far less concerned with choosing frameworks. What they want is value and that needs more than just creating new processes. It relies on changing the behaviour of people.
The universal, quick-fix, one-size-fits all, generic framework that solves all our issues doesn’t not exist, so it’s time to stop dreaming!
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