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Author  Avinash Singh – country manager and principal consultant, Fox IT

August 24, 2023 |

 8 min read

  • Blog
  • MSP

Today, there is little demarcation between a business and its technology, as technology is now a fundamental part of most organizations’ value streams.

Both aspects must now be highly converged to co-create value for the customer. Most frameworks and methods in use today have a view on the co-creation of value, yet address how to achieve it differently.

How frameworks complement each other

It may help to visualize each method as a planet orbiting the sun, where the sun represents enterprise value. Together, they form a unified system. In Agile, value derives from addressing the business drivers to reduce time-to-market, while new features or functions deliver regular value through incremental delivery. On the other hand, Lean focuses on reducing “waste”, eliminating all non-value-adding activities from the value stream to reduce the overall lead time for delivering products and services.

DevOps addresses cooperation between development and operations teams, fostering collaboration and agile co-creation. Finally, ITIL is the umbrella framework that manages service delivery using any or all the above methods, aligned with its Service Value System (SVS). The key output of the SVS is value, which is the guiding star that all business activity should strive to create. Lean, Agile, and DevOps can all be slotted into the enterprise within an ITIL environment to help deliver value according to the customers’ expectations, with teams borrowing from each method as necessary to achieve their goals.

The ITIL 4 SVS can really help IT service providers to glue and embed multiple frameworks together in a coherent, cohesive manner to create customer value. Each complements the other well and solves a distinct, organizational problem. These unique strengths, when combined, become greater than the sum of their parts.

All the major frameworks now have many similarities as they have become ever more culture-oriented rather than technology-oriented. They all seek to enable and instil a culture of value co-creation and provide a unifying approach – such as ITIL’s Guiding Principles – to steer practitioners in the right direction. As well as their concerns with culture and mindset, each provides practices to help deliver the work itself, which can be adopted and adapted by businesses according to their particular requirements.

Why and how should they be used together?

Within an organization some teams can be “ITIL heavy”, whilst others are “DevOps heavy”. This can sometimes create issues of semantics and barriers to mutual understanding. Scaling frameworks across the organization rather than within specific silos can reduce or eliminate ambiguity.

Using Agile, Lean and DevOps alongside ITIL can provide a more cohesive, end-to-end approach to value. In particular, when they are aligned across the enterprise and to each other within the service value system, the results are not incremental but exponential. Applying them to as many different dimensions as possible, including quality, time to market and cost optimization as part of a combined approach, makes great business sense.

Challenges and potential pitfalls

Many organizations have framework biases and say they “only do ITIL” or “only do Agile”. This is unhelpful and inherently limiting. Instead, they should start with the end goal in mind – the valuable product or service – and work backwards, adopting frameworks and tools as appropriate to meet their objectives. Frameworks are like a big buffet of practices from which organizations can pick and choose the most appropriate aspects required to create value.

Similarly, it is vital not to slavishly adhere to specific processes or tools. Instead, exercise judgement and “intelligent disobedience”, allowing yourself to deviate from established processes where it makes sense to do so. Don’t lean too heavily on technology, and remember to invest equal effort in people, process, value streams, IT, partners and suppliers.

Top tips on using Agile, Lean, DevOps and ITIL together

  1. Get the culture and mindset right first, then embed processes and ways of working. The tools come last.
  2. Don’t adopt a framework just because it is the latest fad. Instead, look at the specific opportunities available in your business.
  3. Spend time with your business to understand where value is leaking, or value creation opportunities exist.
  4. Then look at selecting appropriate frameworks to enhance value or to plug the leaks.