Agile Service Management - From Processes to Value Streams

multiple data arrows built fro 3D cubes on a circuit board background

With the new version ITIL®4, the discipline of Service Management has been catapulted back from the supposedly old, past world to the centre of current reality. No, not bureaucratic processes should manage services or products anymore. Rather, holistic practices are to be developed as strategic capabilities within the organization and aligned with a constant focus on the value of the customer. With the seven central guiding principles, the essential values of the service organization are to be reviewed again and again before important decisions are made during the design and implementation of services and products. Agility is not simply a new method, but anchored in the DNA of the newly created Service Value System.

ITIL 4 Service Value Chain

This new message is very well received by companies. Finally, the framework has opened up to new developments and created a bridge to new technologies, automation and new agile methods. The attempt to define new agile approaches was contradicted. Rather, the coexistence of the various approaches was emphasized, paving the way for the transfer of existing, often rigid IT service management to a more open, flexible and agile service management.

A central concept in the new Service Value System of ITIL®4 is the Service Value Chain with the Service Value Streams. Value chains and value streams are not really new, but derived from lean management. The Lean Management concept derived from the optimization of Toyota's assembly lines to identify and avoid waste in the production chain has basically existed since the middle of the 20th century and was applied in various management areas. This is now also the case in service management. But how can this concept be applied in practice? How do you identify and optimize your value streams? How do I transform an IT service management organization fragmented by many individual processes into an end-to-end value stream oriented service management organization with a common vision and focused on value?

Service leakage

We pursued this question in an intensive workshop with the Service Management Team of Swiss Post. What was important at the beginning was a common understanding of the difference between processes and practices and between processes and value streams. In the beginning, an understanding of value generation, waste, workflow, lead time and effective working time were also important prerequisites for working together on a value stream.

Office of Swiss PostWhen identifying a value stream, it is ideal to look at the entire value chain from the customer request to the delivery of the service or product. In our workshop, we looked at the common process from ordering an electronic workstation with a notebook to providing a managed workstation service. We divided this seemingly trivial process into four phases: Selection & Ordering, Review & Approval, Staging & Deliver and Monitoring & Billing. The question arose right at the start: where do we start? From the beginning of the value flow - or from the desired result?

Traditionally, the process has been viewed from the order and developed through to delivery. If the focus is now to be on the value for the customer, this expected value must first be clearly understood. This means that the result, the outcome, must be the start of our design. During the workshop it soon became clear that the result of an order for a workstation system cannot simply be the provision of a notebook alone. Rather, this workstation should be managed and integrated into the support, lifecycle, security and monitoring.

In two teams, the Value Stream was developed from two sides. One team is based on the outcome of the value stream, the other on the input. The different problem zones on the way from input to outcome were exciting to see. A lot of waste was located around the securing of all necessary information until an order for the provision of the workplace was received. Cost and other release points, roles and permissions, identity and password information, licenses and billing models. Or also input fields such as a "comment field", which ultimately nobody really needs in the processing of the order has been identified as a waste. Media breaks and queues can also be identified as problem zones. All these problem zones must be systematically recorded and systematically analyzed and eliminated by means of suitable problem management methods such as the problem solving circle with 6 steps.

Value stream

In the subsequent examination of the value stream recorded in this way, the various ITIL practices used in the processing of customer orders were identified. These were for this value stream: Service Catalogue, Request Fulfillment, Infrastructure Management, Identity & Access Management, Asset Management, Service Configuration Management, Change Enablement, Event & Monitoring, Service Desk, Financial Management and Information Security Management. Each of these practices must now be able to make an optimal contribution on the path to value creation of the value stream. These practices now provided by ITIL4 can help design an optimized value stream with all four dimensions (people and organization, information and technology, value stream and processes, and partners and suppliers).

Team at work

This is one of the key findings of this workshop. If the focus has so far been on the performance of the respective process, the interaction of the practices up to the desired value suddenly becomes obvious. Alignment of the processes with the overall result now seems much more central to the workshop participants than measuring any self-defined KPIs. The focus on value demonstrated in this way and the insight gained that all employees involved in the value stream will now be able to better identify their performance with the overall result was also regarded as one of the main benefits from this workshop.

Group picture of team in front of wall with project work on

This is one of the key findings of this workshop. If the focus has so far been on the performance of the respective process, the interaction of the practices up to the desired value suddenly becomes obvious. Alignment of the processes with the overall result now seems much more central to the workshop participants than measuring any self-defined KPIs. The focus on value demonstrated in this way and the insight gained that all employees involved in the value stream will now be able to better identify their performance with the overall result was also regarded as one of the main benefits from this workshop.

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Comments

19 Mar 2020 Florian Zbinden
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nice article, interesting to change the approach
28 Apr 2020 Christopher Lim
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Good read. Extremely helpful to have a practical example of how the new ITIL V4 is applied. Would love to see more of these case studies. Thanks
16 Jun 2020 Bhupendra Negi
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Great article for understanding Value Stream concept in IT. Thanks for sharing.
Not sure if this is right channel to point a duplication of last two paragraphs in this article.
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