Agile, DevOps & Lean piquing the interest of ITIL adopters

June 08 2015

Last week I attended the always superb IT Service Management Show, SITS15, having been invited to present a seminar talk on Kanban, its uses, benefits and how it can accelerate improvement within IT Ops teams. As usual this meeting of global ITSM thinkers represents a bellwether, indicating what is preoccupying the minds of service leaders and practitioners in our ever changing and challenging world. Over the years I have seen topics such as Cloud, Gamification, Business Metrics, Customer Service rise to the fore as the domineering themes, interspersed with the ever useful presentations offering insight into specific ITIL processes; CSI, Problem Management, Service Catalogue etc.

Last year at SITS14, as a guest of Axios, I presented on behalf of Network Rail describing their transformational improvement journey, reconfiguring IT Service Operations, re-tooling and implementing several “working out loud” practices, such as Kanban, and realising dramatic increases in customer satisfaction, staff engagement and performance improvement. At that event I was extremely pleased to see (only or should I say at least) one other presentation, by Kaimar Karu no less, illustrating the direction Axelos/ITIL are taking in adopting practices from the Agile domain. Thankfully this was the day before my own seminar and so it gave me a good platform to tell the story of NR’s Kanban adoption to a packed room, full of very intrigued people, teed up by Kaimar.

Fast forward to June 3rd 2015; Linkedin and #SITS15 are lauding the takeaways from this years conference as Communication, Collaboration & Culture. Noteworthy, especially in the context of 36 seminar slots I counted 7 given over to subjects like Agile, Swarming, Kanban & Devops – methods and practices I believe deliver the three Cs implicitly, explicitly, by definition and by the bucket load. 7 from 2 the previous year is a conspicuous and encouraging upturn. At last, I say, this is how it should be.

I am a great user of ITIL and, I believe, I use it in the way that it is always sold to us at conferences and in classrooms alike all around the world. I use it as a framework. I leave the whole “if you had all the money and all the buy-in in the world” nonsense at the door and I adopt which ever bits support the needs of the culture I am in at any given time to best enable the organisation IT is a part of. There are a few processes that always get a look in and there are some that have a tendency to take a back seat. The theoretical value of all is understood, but context is everything in my book and shoe horning seldom works on anything but slip-ons.

In any case, regardless of which context you are landed in and which ITIL processes you find there, they all release the best value if your people are engaged, collaborative, trusted & trusting. Transparency, a remarkably difficult state to achieve, underpins all of this and “working out loud” through devices such as Kanban, Scrum, Blame-Free Retrospectives and so on are the perfect ways of engendering the best return on your ITIL framework. Create and encourage teams by swarming around issues, access knowledge untapped or made inaccessible by silos, accelerate your CSI process by getting this work out of registers and on to a board in the middle of an office, or on Trello, leankit or some other on-line tool if your team’s are in disparate locations (but please put these up on the same massive screens you give over to SLA metrics – doing the work is, in fact, more important than reporting on it). Make it all visual, conspicuous and shared then invite input, it’s amazing how quickly you will improve with everyone working together.

Interested? Give it a go, start small, don’t expect to get everything right first time, learn, pivot and progress…find your path, with ITIL as your boots and bivvy and Agile disciplines as your compass and stars. If you need a guide to get you going you know where to find me.