ITIL 4 – embedding Lean and Agile to move quickly and disrupt markets

ITSM practitioner in suit with briefcase holding smartphone as bright lines of binary code emerge from central point against backdrop of tall office buildings at night

Today’s organizations need greater flexibility to create new products and services, which requires agility to build, test and deploy much faster.

This need has led to movements such as DevOps and – in fact – ITIL® 4, the latest evolution of the ITIL best practice framework.

Mauricio CoronaBut how should we answer the question about ITIL that might have come previously from software developers and enterprise people interested in agility and being lean: “what’s in it for me?”

In the past, developers using Agile methods may have struggled with ITIL adoption, including its processes, governance, policies and procedures.

However, the desire for high velocity delivery doesn’t mean you can avoid policies and procedures! As an analogy, if you want to get a bank loan you need to complete an application and be assessed before they’ll give you the money.

This is why ITIL 4 provides an answer to the question above: it enables high velocity working along with governance and the updated framework’s Service Value System (SVS) recognizes the need to move faster but with efficient procedures (not bureaucracy).

Mapping Lean/Agile to ITIL 4

ITIL 4 addresses more comprehensively the ways in which Agile and Lean communities can use it as an approach to enable high velocity. For ITIL and Agile communities, agility is the ability to innovate and respond to change as well as the ability to balance the structure and flexibility.

The SVS which underpins ITIL 4 – including the Guiding Principles, the Service Value Chain, value streams and processes – all incorporate Lean and Agile thinking to deliver products and services more quickly. It’s important to mention that in Agile as well in ITIL, high velocity is not the end; high velocity is the consequence and the most important thing is that every single iteration has to deliver value.

And it’s now possible to map the Agile Manifesto to ITIL 4 with principles such as “progress iteratively with feedback” and “keep it simple and practical”.

Therefore, development communities and Lean/Agile organizations can now start to look to ITIL 4 and see how it fits in their world and how they fit within the overall SVS. The Service Value Chain could help organizations that are using Kanban as a visual system for managing work throughout the Service Value Stream to make sure every single piece of work is adding value to the whole system.

ITIL and Agile works well for projects in complex (and less complex) environments, where you need to get results soon, where the requirements are poorly defined and where innovation, competitiveness, flexibility and productivity are fundamental.

Organizational benefits

Today is a story of survival for many organizations in the face of new competitors entering their markets. These competitors are often small and agile with the ability to design and develop new products within weeks, not months or years.

Speeding up the time to market is vital at a time of pressure from global and digital economies, as is disrupting existing business models with new technology.

This process of digital transformation is about companies identifying opportunities in the market and using high velocity approaches in products and services to fulfil these opportunities.

Therefore, adopting the Lean and Agile approaches in ITIL 4 will enable organizations to introduce new products/services more quickly and disrupt their markets.

Read more AXELOS Blog Posts by Mauricio Corona

ITIL update: Mapping IT services with ITIL to drive business value

ITIL Practitioner: why it’s always best to Keep It Simple

ITIL Practitioner: Tackling the challenges of Service Strategy

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