Value streams and ITIL 4 CDS: looking holistically at service management

A city all lit up by technology

How is ITIL® best practice important to people in IT operations teams getting “dirty” in the day to day tasks of managing changes, transition and delivering flexible and stable service?

Well, I think that ITIL 4 Specialist: Create, Deliver and Support (CDS) gives them a unique gift: helping them move from a technology focus to collaborating on service management, supporting value streams and enabling customers to achieve the service outcomes they want.

This also includes understanding more about the workflow; doing value stream mapping to figure out how stuff really works – finding the gaps, the bottlenecks and then progressing to improvement.

Understanding value streams

Organizations already familiar with Lean methods will know about value streams. If not, this may come as a new idea.

In essence, value streams start with a demand for something and end in value accrued by everyone involved. It’s about flow and feedback; learning what’s going on in order to get better and shifting the conversation beyond process to practice, service delivery and value co-creation.

For example, if IT receives a new hire request for support (the demand), the value streams are what needs to happen in terms of hardware, software and access rights before the new person arrive at their desk on day one (the value).

However, people often don’t really understand the triggers, i.e. what has to happen to start the work. Those tasked with providing services know their own link in the value chain but don’t know all the upstream and downstream work necessary. So, the real value of ITIL 4 CDS is in helping siloed operations people­ lift their heads out of the “cave” and see what they contribute to the value stream, who the stakeholders are and how to improve flow.

Improvement in the ITIL 4 service value system is a verb – an action you have to do. This means creating a culture of experimentation to improve your organization and teams’ efficiency and effectiveness continually. Without identifying improvement actions, there’s no improvement.

Visualizing the whole

Having worked with many organizations that narrow their focus to adopting a tool or process, I know this won’t work if people aren’t thinking holistically about value. It involves knowing the impact on everyone – the customer, providers, supplier, shareholders, etc.

Getting the “engine room” people in operations – who are predominantly concerned with “keeping the lights on” – to look up and see the horizon is helpful. This is easier said than done, either because it’s so long since they’ve looked, or they’ve never looked because of what’s been in the way.

Working with value streams gives people the ability to visualize the whole service value system. And while there’ll be things they don’t like, it means they know where to put their energy and investment.

ITIL 4 also helps consolidate what we’ve learned from other best practices – such as Agile and DevOps – over the past 10-20 years. While CDS does not explicitly describe DevOps, it talks to how value stream mapping can work that way and, therefore, opens up a sensible conversation with DevOps people.

Ultimately, what CDS does well is put these ideas into core service management practices without reinventing the wheel.

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Comments

30 Sep 2020 Marek Krajewski
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I think this is a very useful summary on the importance of Values Streams in SM (and beyond)
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