Service management adoption in an Agile organization
Blog posted by: Alfredo De Ninno, service architect & Carlos Magalhaes, service desk customer representative, 22 October 2021.
How do you adapt the ITIL® service management framework to a genuinely integrated agile environment?
In short, it’s not easy but definitely offers a challenging, engaging and surprising journey – one that we’ve been on recently.
ITIL challenges in an agile environment
For example, in a young and purely Agile company devoted to successfully developing HR software for large, prestigious companies, neither service management nor ITIL are necessarily “loved”.
However, despite the outstanding quality of the software developed, the company’s clients were keen to have a clear, well-structured, documented and continually evolving service management structure.
Our goal was to provide a valid and solid response to the customer’s expectations and, at the same time, combine the best of the ITIL framework and an Agile mindset.
The starting point – creating a single point of contact
Beginning with the existing incident process and major incident procedure, we found lots of simultaneously-active communications channels, producing confusion and misunderstanding.
So, the first step was to establish a classic single point of contact (SPOC) – provided by a team (i.e. service desk) or person (i.e. service manager). With all support activities flowing through a simple and effective channel, this had a transformational power: offering clear ownership, reducing waste, removing duplication and enabling a single source of truth.
Where is the value?
With a demanding customer, it was vital and meaningful that we constantly asked the question: does this activity, procedure or practice add any value to our customer or to us as an organization? ITIL 4’s guiding principle tells us to “focus on value”.
So, we added a lean service request fulfilment process to order and prioritize the numerous service requests that had been handled previously by an incident process. With the clear need for an ITSM tool we selected Jira Service Desk, which was already used by the DevOps teams and ready to integrate with several other tools.
The power of iteration
To iterate means continual and progressive improvement; where failure is not a threat but an opportunity. In ITIL 4, the guiding principle recommends us to “progress iteratively with feedback”.
The concept of the Minimal Viable Process perfectly lines up with the practice of iterations. Therefore, we experimented with incident and service requests to test how our assumptions were working, how our colleagues responded and how our workflow and automation were operating. This helped remove bottlenecks, waste, confusion and fostered simplicity.
Collaboration, Collaboration and more Collaboration
Our work's most valuable resource has been the continual collaboration with all stakeholders: the DevOps teams, Operations management, product owners and business relationship managers. To “collaborate and promote visibility” as ITIL 4 suggests covers multiple perspective, needs, and expectations. This was the toughest task we faced but it enriched us and ensured the final results.
Simple and Practical
We started with an MVP (Minimal Viable Process) based on the core elements, kept it simple and practical, encouraged feedback and then we started again with another iteration.
Once we achieved an acceptable result with change enablement, we moved to the problem management practice and then to the Information Security Management practice.
We created simplicity to be a failure-proof tool and the first, essential weapon against error and inaccuracy. Therefore, we achieved the goal to cover a large number of requirements with a limited number of processes and adopt a coherent approach.
With Jira, we have automated communication, synchronization among records, SLA management, teams assignment, access management without the need for code development. This has been one of the biggest surprises – the effectiveness and the simplicity of this ITSM configuration tool has really made our lives easier.
The overall result has been a lean and effective framework of service management practices, stable and mature enough to provide reliable services to a demanding customer.
This has been a great experience and an excellent opportunity to merge ITIL and Agile mindsets.
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