ITIL, the popular IT service management (ITSM) best practice framework, is no longer the de facto approach for ITSM. Not only are there valid alternative approaches, so much has changed in the world since the last version – ITIL 2011 – was released, with more and more organizations now potentially requiring guidance and help from a mix of different ITSM approaches.
There’s currently a lot of talk about how DevOps and ITIL are complementary rather than mutually exclusive. That DevOps helps to improve the traditional ITIL best practice approach for change and release management, along with incident and problem management, and continual service improvement (CSI). And some ITIL practices can help with DevOps.
From my point of view, this makes sense, as:
Plus, this blending of approaches is nothing new – there have been “ITIL-complementary” approaches to ITSM and IT management for decades. With something called “ITIL Plus,” the use of ITIL and one or more other approaches, in vogue circa ten years ago.
It’s something that still happens, we just haven’t talked about it as much as we could have – that is until the potential tension between DevOps and ITIL brought talk of complementary approaches front-and-center again.
Over the last three decades, ITIL has helped tens (potentially hundreds) of thousands of internal IT teams to improve their IT service delivery and support. Plus, of course, the business operations and financial results of their parent companies.
And in 2017, savvy organizations are now blending a variety of approaches – in particular ITIL, Lean, Agile, and DevOps – and enabling technologies (including ITSM, software development, and collaboration tools plus machine learning) to optimize both IT service delivery and the value that IT ultimately provides to the business. (For ease, “approaches” is used here as a single term to represent methodologies, frameworks, and standards.)
So, what was previously thought of as “pick a card, any card” (albeit usually ITIL) to create an organization’s ITSM operating model and management system is now somewhat of a jigsaw. But not a single jigsaw, more like the fitting together of various pieces from multiple jigsaws to create an entirely new jigsaw puzzle.
Clear as mud? What I’m trying to articulate is that solving a single jigsaw puzzle is hard. Then solving multiple jigsaws, all with similar pictures and where their pieces have been mixed up, is even harder. And finally, trying to create the “perfect picture” from the best individual jigsaw pieces is harder still. It’s what organizations currently face, and have previously faced, if they want and need to deviate from using purely ITIL to use the best of the available approaches.
The solution is out there, which I cover in a generic way below, and is already used by some organizations. However, the use of multiple approaches is not necessarily as easy as organizations would like it to be – please read on to find out more.
(Editorial note: this blog was written before the 2018 ITIL update was announced.)
In many ways, what ITSM pros need is “ITSM alchemy” – with alchemy the mixing, or blending, of various ingredients to “purify, mature, and perfect” something; in this case, IT service strategy through service operation, and continual service improvement.What #ITSM pros need is “ITSM alchemy” – with alchemy the mixing, or blending, of various ingredients to “purify, mature, and perfect” something - @StephenMann Click To Tweet
It’s not easy to blend approaches though – it takes time and money, thought, and trial and error. It’s also potentially very complex without access to guidance on where to source different good practices – for different ITSM and business needs – from the available approaches. But don’t despair, there’s a lot of knowledge out there, the ITSM industry just needs to get better at making it available to all.
Sidelining the currently hot Lean, Agile, and DevOps for a moment, ITSM professionals have traditionally opted for ITIL (industry surveys usually have ITIL at circa 50% adoption) over alternatives (each with 10% adoption or less) such as:
However, the use of multiple approaches is probably more prevalent than industry research suggests. And, as we stand talking about the blending of ITIL and DevOps, are we not ignoring many other sources of guidance, inspiration, or good practice?
(Editorial note: this blog was written before the new VeriSM approach was announced.)
While this might already seem overly complicated (with ITIL, Lean, Agile, DevOps, and the four bulleted approaches above), there are also additional, niche, approaches that can be employed to help with more-specific ITSM needs, including:
Plus, there are various “improvement” approaches to add into the mix, such as:
And finally, we have:
Of course, your organization could opt for solely blending ITIL and DevOps (plus the associated enabling technologies). But surely DevOps’ third way of “continual experimentation, taking risks and learning” opens up the organization to the consideration of other approaches and how best to choose and blend the right ingredients (certain elements from these additional approaches) to achieve better IT and better business results?
Let’s consider the premise that finding the right ingredients from multiple approaches is both viable (we know that it is based on exemplar organizations, it’s just not that easy) and is in the best interest of your organization. So, what can you do?
For me, the industry, and all who work within it, deserve option number five – but who is going to participate (and invest) in its creation? The IT Service Management Forum (itSMF) country chapters, the ITSM tool vendors, AXELOS (the custodian of ITIL), or maybe another profit-making entity that would then license the IP?
Who would take the risk? And who would be trusted to act as a broker?
This article was never intended to have all, or even most, of the answers. Instead it was written to get you thinking about how you can use different approaches to optimize your ITSM capabilities and outcomes, and how the ITSM industry could create a workable solution for its participants. So, what do you think about the need for, and viability of, ITSM alchemy?