ITIL 4 and DevOps: a case for collaboration

Published: Wed Oct 26 2022

Blog posted by: Jonathan Wafford, ITIL 4 Strategic Leader/Managing Professional 25 October 2022.

Organizations are starting to adapt Agile concepts for the service environment - and this means it's time for ITIL 4 and DevOps practitioners to work together in earnest.

This can be a challenge for both sets of professionals, who may have either preconceptions or simply lack of understanding about what each other does and the concepts they use.

A long-standing issue is based on people's mindsets: that what they're using is a formalized best practice that must be done by the book rather taking a flexible and adaptable approach in search of co-creating value for their business.

So, where should people begin on the journey to genuine collaboration?

ITIL 4 and DevOps - a mutual embrace?

At the heart of ITIL 4 is the service value system and value streams.

For DevOps practitioners who are unaware, their work would already sit within the service value system; combining ITIL and DevOps ideas with a focus on transparency, collaboration and following value through from development to operations.

This approach is certainly not about tossing things over the fence from development to operations as often happened historically.

The basic DevOps principles, which also include continuous improvement, team collaboration and breaking down silos, are reflected in ITIL 4's concepts of adaptability and guiding principles such as focus on value and progress iteratively with feedback; essentially, embracing DevOps and Agile methods to enhance the customer journey.

ITIL 4 and DevOps in practice

As an ITIL 4 Managing Professional and Strategic Leader who has also certified in Scrum and DevOps, how do I work with DevOps and Agile professionals?

For example, a project begins with discussing the project brief with the principal stakeholders, identifying what value means to them and what outcome they're looking for. In essence, this is driven by the focus on value guiding principle. After that, using other ITIL 4 guiding principles involves:

Start where you are: for example, what tooling is currently in use and can we use what we've got already before making improvements later, if necessary?

Progress iteratively with feedback: in the process of building a product or service, let's get the customer's feedback, adapt the product/service and give it back to them for further feedback.

Collaborate and promote visibility: let's get people talking to each other; breaking out of a silo and finding a way to collaborate in real time.

Think and work holistically: this is about reminding people of the need for both internal and external viewpoints, so you're thinking about the work you're doing within a wider context.

Keep it simple and practical: can you automate something without over-complicating it?

By ITIL and DevOps teams working in this way, what should they expect?

It ought to bring teams closer to whoever they're creating value for: identifying what the value is and creating something more applicable. By keeping the dialogue going, you should be delivering value continuously and making relevant changes throughout the process.

Rather than taking a waterfall project approach which aims to define everything up-front, it's more about designing the minimum viable product or service, being willing to listen and adjust based on the customer's feedback along the way.

Fundamentally, it's about being open to change and less protective of previous processes you might have built; in this new world, companies are constantly challenged to change and keep up to date. To do this, people need the capability to change too.

Company: AXELOS

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