Agile in ITSM: The Current State
Talking to IT leaders routinely, I see a strong demand for Kanban boards to orchestrate the service desk. The ITIL 4 foundation documentation talks about agility as one of the key drivers for updating from ITIL 3 to ITIL 4 (yes, it took quite some time to get that one out). Agility is on top of the agenda of many CIOs in Europe. Several ITSM tool vendors have presented their Kanban boards for incident management. But what about the other ITIL processes? And what about other enterprise services? Don’t they deserve a Kanban board to help organization to transition to a lean and agile way of working?
Kanban boards help teams to create clarity about what needs to be done next and what is currently being worked on. Self-organizing teams use Kanban boards to manage their daily work without supervisor. Having a Kanban board for the service desk is a great way to transition the support organization away from dispatching the tasks by a supervisor or a rule-based machine towards employees picking up issues themselves and starting to work on them. And if your ITSM tool has a Kanban board for the service desk, then that’s really great.
But wouldn’t it be even greater if agility in your organization doesn’t stop right there? Wouldn’t it be fantastic if you could run your change management, your release and deployment, and even your service lifecycle management on a Kanban board? Yes, your IT teams could use another tool such as Monday, Trello, or Jira to organize the processes and projects in each team on a Kanban board. Believe me I have seen happening in many organizations. The question is only when you organize agile work in other tools than your ITSM tool, how do you enforce the workflows (or “value streams” if we follow the new terminology of ITIL 4) that you implemented in your ITSM tool over years? You do want to adopt these existing value streams to be more agile, to be more interactive with your customers, and to be more flexible for change, but you still want to have structured workflows to automate routine tasks. So, how can you seriously consider running permanently Kanban boards for each team in tools that have little connection to your ITSM tool?
The Next Frontier
In recent months, I have seen ITSM vendors following the trend around agility by launching Kanban boards for incident management (and even “incident management” is theoretically the wrong process according to ITIL 4, “service desk” would be more appropriate). Some Kanban boards in ITSM tools are so well hidden in the user interface that even demo personnel on trade shows don’t find them. How can we as an industry accept such a half-hearted approach to supporting IT organizations in becoming truly agile? How can we make the Kanban board of your team to be the first thing they see when they open the workstation each day? How can we facilitate that issues flow naturally between different teams and different ITIL processes without losing the benefits of workflow automation?
When Axelos will publish the documentation for the High Velocity-IT training later this year, I’m sure many organizations, if they haven’t done so already by now, will look for ways to implement agility across the entire IT organization. The majority of ITSM tools are not ready yet. However… Efecte might have an answer to this challenge so stay tuned…