Bringing agile and ITIL together in an agile organization

Post-It notes on board representing the stages of the ITIL lifecycle linked by other Post-Its with arrows

Services are about people and processes and how technology enables the service delivery. These services need service management and, as a product manager, it has been useful to recognize that designing services is different to designing products.

In order to deliver a consistent, continuously-improving customer experience it is important to consider every aspect of the service; not only delivering a product but also how it is implemented and supported.

Our customers are local governments, we help them to transform their own service delivery and provide a more consistent user experience by moving their line of business systems to the cloud. This facilitates people’s interactions with their local government, reducing the costs and improving the efficiency of those interactions.

Our initial focus is on product delivery and creating a user experience based on their requirements. In order to understand this in detail, we will create a service design blueprint. For example, that would show how someone submits a planning application and how that is handled by the service from submission to approval. We will then use this service design to ensure our technology supports the service delivery and facilitates continuous service improvement.

We take an agile approach, running four-week sprints and stacking up mini-projects which are passed to Scrum Masters. It’s an effective way of working; tracking the success and how much resource we’re using, identifying issues and problems in processes and using retrospectives to ensure continuous improvement.

It’s an iterative approach to product development; doing something, validating it and regularly checking that we’re building the right thing. This means any issues – if they do arise – can be rolled back easily. We validate what we’re doing by doing through “show and tells” with the customer and user testing to continuously improve the user experience.

Agile and ITSM?

So, alongside our agile product development, where does IT service management fit? There’s always a lot happening and we’re reaching the point where products are being more widely adopted by increasing numbers of customers. That’s where I think service management helps, for example, using some ITIL® approaches – such as product portfolio and service catalogue.

As our organization has grown from 20 to 120 people in five years there are now many processes we need to introduce which we didn’t have as a start-up, including incident management, portfolio management, customer satisfaction, capacity and capability management and risk management. Our business is always changing and there’s always room for improvement.

With IT service management supported by ITIL there’s more structure around development processes and – especially with the adoption of agile and DevOps – it allows people space and autonomy to work within a consistent framework.

The ITIL update

For me, getting involved with the ITIL update is a great opportunity to understand how ITIL can be useful and how it can be applied to our way of working.

As for many organizations, we want to ensure we have the necessary structure to deliver a better service to our customers and ITIL has a long history of doing this on an organization-wide basis. We want to utilize best practices and we don’t want to be reinventing the wheel.

The new version of ITIL is evolving and changing with the new and different ways that software services are being delivered. It’s taking a range of approaches, from DevOps to agile, into account and I am happy to represent the way that we work during the design process of the next version of ITIL.

The learning never stops and it’s about understanding what’s useful and what can help us get to the next level of maturity without affecting the good things we already do.

Current rating: 3 (2 ratings)


1 Aug 2018 Ravi Kandalam
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Great throught Sarah. I have been working to find a best fit for ITIL in SDLC, more in terms of incorporating Service Management right from Identifying a Business service, mapping to the corresponding IT components (App and Infra) and monitoring it in Service Operations and CSI stages. Any thought on this would be helpful.
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