Agile ITSM Manifesto – are we there yet?

A group of people in an office brainstorming ideas

Agile ITSM is on the rise, now becoming more and more a reality and even making it into ITIL 4®.

So, what are the next steps in the Agile ITSM evolution? I think the most critical one is defining an Agile ITSM Manifesto that works holistically across IT.

The Agile Manifesto was written almost 20 years ago, changing software development permanently. Agile was defined by four values and twelve principles. So perfect that it remains current today.

We can do the same for Agile ITSM, but it will be hard. That’s because we have not been clearly articulating the most critical pain points to show how an IT service management framework can solve them.

These include:

  • Focusing on processes, tools and documentation rather than the people delivering a great service
  • Failing to deliver the service and value until SLAs are designed, signed and implemented
  • Designing processes and implementing tools without involving customers to co-create value
  • Creating robust processes that are difficult to integrate and hard to change

We can add many more practical topics to the list of current ITSM challenges: remote work, cloud, artificial intelligence, machine learning, security, self-service, etc. This list will only grow in the next few years. So, to define an Agile ITSM Manifesto we should make it as general as possible, like the Agile Manifesto 20 years ago.

An Agile ITSM Manifesto

While you think about four possible values for an Agile ITSM Manifesto, I’ll put forward my view:

  1. Holistic service design over process and tool implementation
  2. Deliver value from day one over detailed, signed SLAs and KPIs
  3. Co-create value over delivering in response to customer demands
  4. Mapping value over integrating processes

You might have other thoughts and even better ideas. These are just to show we have the tools but have just been missing a clear understanding of what we’re fixing.

ITIL 4 – the tool of choice

I strongly believe ITIL 4 can address the values listed above. Why do I think that?

  1. Holistic service design
     
    We now have the concepts of service value system, service value chain and value streams. Most importantly we have the four dimensions: organizations and people, information & technology, partners and suppliers and value streams and processes.

    By covering all four dimensions, we will not only focus on technology but also on the people side of change and the organization itself. Culture needs to be built from day one, but also needs to be maintained.

  2. Deliver value from day one
     
    ITIL 4 doesn’t advocate defining processes first and delivering services later; we are now given the possibility to easily define our value in the form of activities and practices and deliver a service.
     
    Do we need signed SLAs and complex KPIs to be sure we have delivered the promised value? Of course, we will still need SLAs and KPIs; the question is: “Can we start delivering the service and finalize agreements and measurements later?

  3. Co-create value
     
    Value is not just delivered from supplier to customer, but co-created. All stakeholders must unite to deliver value. We need our customers to work with us, give us feedback and we should involve them as much as possible in all we do.
     
    In my experience, the more two-way communication there is with customers the better the result. Having a customer who just nods when you propose something is not co-creation. Even if we are experts in our field, the customer is expert in his/hers.
     
    Listen and ask questions and don’t provide solutions to unstated problems

  4. Map value
     
    Value streams are my favorite topic in ITIL 4. We are now able to easily remove cross-team silos by mapping the value flow across the organizations. This starts with demand and ends with value creation, showing how the mix of activities and practices interact to deliver what is needed. When new requirements come in, we will just need to adapt the value stream or – if needed – create a new one.
     
    Activities and practices working together to deliver value: when done properly, each person will understand how his or her action contributes to the delivery of value.

So, are we there yet? I believe we are. 

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