As the pace of technological innovation increases and digital disruption becomes the norm, the need to adapt and accelerate ITSM processes is ever more critical. It’s no longer a debate about whether ITSM and DevOps should interface; it’s time now for ITSM professionals to understand how the processes they design and manage can underpin (or undermine) the new flow of work and pervasive use of automation in a DevOps environment.

It’s easy to understand why ITSM professionals are skeptical about DevOps. ITSM performance metrics and service level agreements (SLAs) often revolve around the IT organization’s ability to mitigate risks, minimize impact, and “guarantee” availability. On the surface, these measures aren’t bad. It’s when we sacrifice speed, agility, and innovation in the process that the business starts to suffer.

The what and why of ITSM haven’t changed. A customer-focused culture in which everyone understands how they contribute to the delivery of value will always serve an organization well. It is the how that must be adapted in support of DevOps. It’s therefore important that ITSM process managers and stakeholders gain a breadth of knowledge about DevOps practices and principles, such as The Three Ways, Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery, and DevSecOps, among others. It’s also important for ITSM professionals to have a clear understanding of new approaches to automated pipelines and continuous testing in order to adapt processes. Understanding these DevOps concepts will help ITSM professionals to understand that many of the controls historically addressed through policies and manual processes can now be achieved, perhaps even more effectively and efficiently, through automation.

But what about the “No tools before the rules” mantra we so often hear? That hasn’t changed either. What has changed is widespread acceptance of Agile and Lean values and practices within IT. DevOps doesn’t stand alone. Its roots are in Agile and Lean and the need to take an iterative, incremental approach with minimal waste. By streamlining processes and striving for “just enough” control, ITSM professionals can craft processes and practices that work with – not against – DevOps. By embracing concepts such as “policy as code” and process automation, ITSM professionals can leverage DevOps practices and achieve greater control than could ever be achieved through the use of tickets and queues and manual checklists and approvals. Simply put, rules + tools = modern ITSM.

The DevOps Institute will be conducting a two-day DevOps Foundations workshop from October 14-15. 

Earn your DevOps certification at Service Management World!

In the past 10 years we have seen an explosion of IT innovations, all of which have given rise to the need for transformation. To fully leverage these innovations, along with automation and compatible frameworks and methodologies, ITSM professionals to reassess their skill sets and the ways they add value, evolving from “I”-shaped ITIL or ITSM practitioner into a “T”-shaped digital transformer. They’ll need to broaden their skills in some areas (communication, collaboration, adaptability, flexibility, leadership) and increase their depth in others (business and technical knowledge, process automation expertise).

Whether formal, informal, or experiential, training and development in these areas will makes it possible for ITSM professionals to understand the need to embrace new ways of thinking and new ways of working. The resulting shift in mindset and skills will enable ITSM professionals to focus on higher-value activities and the need to speed up.

Whether an organization is undergoing an Agile, digital, or DevOps transformation (or a combination of of all three), speed is essential. Several approaches drawn from Agile, Lean, and DevOps can be used as ITSM process accelerators, including:

  • Setting goals for improvements in time-based measures, such as lead and cycle time
  • Streamlining existing processes by identifying and reducing waste within and between activities
  • Improving flow by identifying bottlenecks and prioritizing their elimination
  • Shifting activities left, where possible
  • Devolving authority, where possible
  • Leveraging automation
  • Increasing the number of on-demand self-services

Great ideas, but all easier said than done. Change is hard. Many organizations are struggling with the technological, cultural, and human challenges of these transformations. The organization must be ready to change, or your efforts may be in vain. Ongoing education, communication, and collaboration will help shape and socialize the required new values, principles, and behaviors. Only by embracing and embedding these values, principles, and behaviors will organizations achieve the culture of continuous learning and improvement that modern businesses demand, and that both DevOps and ITSM must support.