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Author  Lisa Hodges – Principal Consultant, Cornerstone Service Management

June 15, 2020 |

 3 min read

  • Blog
  • Service management

Companies need to seriously re-think how they change direction to ride out crises. And not just to survive, but to thrive.

In uncertain times like now, high-velocity IT is something organizations need regardless of industry. And that’s not only about speed but the ability to adapt quickly to a changing environment – today’s normal operating mode – and decide on the right direction to take.

In practice, this means shifting resources and using the best practices available as soon as possible. High-velocity IT organizations make this transition more smoothly, having developed the capability to respond quickly in evolving circumstances.

And this all requires high level commitment in the organization to avoid playing around tactically.

Varying approaches to high-velocity IT

Those doing well with high-velocity IT recognize that some elements of their operations and the services they provide are good candidates for this, but not everything.

You need an intentional, methodical approach to drill down into the components and risks in their portfolio of services, identifying good candidates and services that are business/mission critical.

Conversely, poorly performing organizations are adopting high-velocity IT in an isolated way between teams and, consequently, working at different speeds. For example, an organization with a service portfolio supporting millions of end-users may have a software team using Scrum for development but may only have 10 release windows in the year. Equally, operational teams may need help with live services, but development has moved onto the next thing.

What does an organization need to do to adopt high-velocity IT?

  1. It’s about culture not technology

High-velocity IT is not about buying automation technology and hiring people to work it.

Instead, it requires a number of behaviours that support collaboration rather than competing for resources – something many teams do in the mistaken belief it fosters creativity. So, you need to do a “culture check” to know if your teams are ready to collaborate.

  1. Willingness to take risks and be rewarded

IT organizations have put resources into not breaking things so when disruption happens, they are less good at responding to it. Organizations need to get better at experimenting and deliberately breaking things (introducing disruption intentionally under controlled conditions) to know what to do when things go wrong. This is a paradigm shift, demonstrated – for example – by the “Simian Army” tools created by Netflix to test the resilience of its IT infrastructure.

  1. Improvement versus fix

Developing high-velocity IT means creating systems that not only recover but get better as a result; just going back to normal isn’t enough today.

The ITIL 4 approach to high-velocity IT

High-velocity IT is addressed directly in the ITIL® 4 Specialist module High-velocity IT (HVIT) and has elevated culture and organizational change management (OCM) aptitudes and methods for achieving significant enterprise-wide change.

By embedding OCM across service management organizations, it has achieved a new level of criticality. Also, ITIL 4 HVIT defines the technologies (not specific tools) that are integral to the concept and outlines the necessary competencies.

The ITIL 4 framework brings together different parts of an organization to achieve these goals. And this is why it needs people who are cross-trained – from service management to project management; from design and development through infrastructure and operations.

High-velocity IT across the value chain

To make high-velocity IT work, everybody along the value chain needs to adjust velocity to support the ultimate goal. Each “cog in the wheel” needs to embrace the approach and deliver services.

That involves every human link in the value chain appreciating the work that comes both before and after. Like a relay race, there isn’t time to stop and think: “what’s next?”; it needs smooth transition – at a compatible speed – in the hand-offs from one team/one component to the next.

ITIL 4 has provided many practices, methods and techniques to help, such as value chain mapping. And though few organizations will make everything they do high-velocity, their experiments will positively influence even the slowest legacy systems.