Adapting is necessary to move forward. In the case of ITIL 4, it makes no difference. Both from the people who have collaborated to build the latest version of the framework in such a comprehensive and agile-fueled way and from the companies that have begun adopting it and are experiencing results. Find out how this set of practices helps the IT team (and all other teams) to deliver business value faster and more effectively.
The Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) is a framework that governs Information Technology Service Management (ITSM). Shortly before the pandemic, it has undergone its most significant update in over a decade.
We're referring to the fourth version of ITIL, in which more than two thousand IT professionals working in different sectors and functions have come together to lay the foundations for the edition of a framework that includes elements of Agile and DevOps methods and methodologies, representing a major paradigm shift for IT teams. The main novelty presented in this version of ITIL, known as ITIL 4, is that it moves away from its predecessors as it's not associated with the old ways of working, as it has an agile, flexible, and adaptable approach.
Based on previous versions of ITIL, IT teams used to operate with requirements that entailed a series of burdensome and overwhelming steps to comply with. ITIL 4 offers a more practical orientation that integrates Lean, Agile, and DevOps concepts, applying practices such as continuous improvement or visual dashboards. ITIL 4 adopts an integrated approach to managing work.
3 Tips to implement ITIL 4 at the enterprise level
This ITIL version requires time to assimilate, let it all sink in, and flows into practice. However, once in place, the IT team and the rest of the company's teams that apply ITIL (these practices applied to other company teams correspond to Enterprise Service Management (ESM)) will change from generating more costs to generating more revenue. By applying the following principles based on ITIL 4, teams will have the potential to become technology leaders:
1. Focus on results rather than products
When IT teams focus on accomplishing tasks and business as usual, problems and issues will continue, and the list of unforeseen events will continue to grow. Instead, it's advisable to prioritize work aligned with long-term business goals. Look for ways to minimize unplanned and unnecessary tasks and pursue goals that maximize value.
To achieve this goal while maintaining product quality, the concept of value stream mapping, drawn from the Lean methodology, allows to visualize of each stage of the process from beginning to end, allowing the team to identify which steps in the process are most helpful and which are not, to identify bottlenecks, and consequently, what to improve. This process can be illustrated with the help of a stack of Post-its on a wall in the office conference room.
It's possible to illustrate any process by simply mapping the value stream of any service or product. For example, customer service is a good starting point. To begin this map, it's necessary to consider each step between the service request and the service delivery. Performing this activity will provide enough knowledge to visualize where bottlenecks exist and even determine which steps automation can help improve. This will introduce more collaboration, speed, and fewer requirements that slow down the process.
2. Culture and best practices are more important than tools and processes
Using the "right tools" will not lead a team to work faster. A good tool is only one component, but it doesn't guarantee success; as mentioned in the previous point, the important thing is to achieve results, and the values and attitudes shared in the team and throughout the company; that's the culture that allows to build a resilient organization and adapt quickly to change.
For teams that don't yet have their own values, ITIL 4 offers some "guiding" principles, which enable a greater focus on delivering value, fostering collaboration, promoting visibility, and thinking about work holistically. These foundations enable each organization to build a healthy, resilient, and adaptive organizational culture.
Healthy, progressive teams use adaptive practices and behaviors based on collaboration and transparency, not relying on strict processes that work against their own progress.
To move forward at an acceptable speed, it's necessary to build an open and collaborative culture, and although it may seem daunting, there are best practices that allow you to adopt this change in a simple way. The Atlassian Team Playbook, for example, is a book that presents a series of almost instantaneous implementation practices that allow you to diagnose the situation and move forward.
To get started, for example, it's advisable to perform the "Health Monitor" practice that will let you know the current team health and to move on to more technical issues such as incident management, review the prioritization practice that will help you establish a solid, team-centric incident management practice.
3. Adopt Agile and DevOps practices
One factor that has made ITIL 4 popular is its integrated approach combining best practices from Agile, DevOps, and Lean methods and methodologies. Those keep the rules simple, allowing teams to move faster, delivering value at the same speed, and allowing teams to adapt to the situation.
Continuous improvement is an important ITIL 4 component extracted directly from Agile practices. This type of delivery proposes that instead of making a single delivery of the product, service, or process, teams should work iteratively, structuring the work in smaller cycles, from two to four weeks. Implementing these loops allows a faster feedback process; therefore, the learning between each value delivery will be greater. Consequently, the adjustment and the sum of improvements in subsequent phases will be even greater.
At Deiser, we've been using Agile and DevOps practices for years, both internally and externally, and it has allowed us to observe how these ways of working are becoming a standard in the industry. It's gratifying to be part of these types of changes.
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