What is Agile?
Agile is a mindset. It’s a set of values that helps organizations be more flexible. Agile was introduced in software development, as a solution to the long, heavily documented development processes that made it hard to quickly release new functionalities.
In 2001, the software branch introduces the Agile Manifesto for Software Development. The manifesto comprises 4 values:
- Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
- Working software over comprehensive documentation
- Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
- Responding to change over following a plan
Over the past few years, agile has been getting more traction in other fields, such as Sales and Marketing. People started to find a way to take the agile core values away from just software development and made them applicable for all types of organizations. This resulted in several versions of the Agile manifesto, the most popular of which is Modern Agile.
What is Agile Service Management?
Now you know what Agile is, the next question arises: How do you translate it to IT service management? This is actually quite simple. You only need one adjustment in the second value of the Agile Manifesto:
- Individuals and interactions over processes and tools.
- Working services over comprehensive documentation.
- Customer collaboration over contract negotiation.
- Responding to change over following a plan.
The idea is that you keep to these principles when designing and delivering services. How you do this exactly, depends on the organization you’re in.
Agile Service Management in practice
How does Agile Service Management work in practice? Some examples of how an IT-department can work more agile:
- Involve your customers in designing your processes and services.
- When releasing a new product, release a basic solution to a small test audience and iterate based on their feedback.
- Aim for simplicity in your processes, remove steps that have no value for your customer.
- Allow your team to deviate from the default process when it results in a better solution
ITIL vs Agile
ITIL is still the most widely used framework for IT-organizations. How do these Agile principles relate to the ITIL framework? Is it possible to combine Agile Service Management and ITIL?
Well, yes. Agile and ITIL are not mutually exclusive. Agile is a philosophy, a set of guidelines that helps you make decisions in your everyday work, but they don’t tell you how to complete specific tasks. ITIL is a framework, a collection of procedures that describe how to do your work.
While ITIL does have a reputation for being rigid, the idea behind ITIL has always been that you apply the best practices to the way your organization works. This means you could implement ITIL Incident Management in an agile way.
Scrum in Service Management
Scrum is the most widely adopted framework to implement an agile way of working. Just like the Agile Manifesto, the Scrum framework was first created for software development, and is now also used in other fields as well.
Scrum works with small, self-managing, multidisciplinary teams of 3 to 9 people. A Scrum team delivers a new or improved product within one ‘sprint’, a period of 1 to 4 weeks. At the end of the sprint, the team shows the product to the stakeholders, and, when necessary, uses the feedback to make improvements in the next sprint. The goal of short sprints and regular feedback is to make sure you can quickly respond to customer feedback and changing circumstances.