Don’t be “that guy”

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One of the biggest challenges for any ITSM implementation is resistance. I’ve discussed resistance in a previous blog.

But when it comes to including DevOps within your ITSM implementation, are you resisting? Are you being “that guy (or gal)”?

I think that DevOps and Agile represent a great opportunity for ITSM. These approaches can help break down barriers between business and IT. Let’s go one step further. These approaches can help break down barriers that exist within IT between application developers and operations.

One could argue that ITSM has long been resisted by application developers. That may be true. But if you think about what ITSM and DevOps are both trying to do, you’ll see a lot of common goals:

  • Enable or produce business outcomes
  • Deliver business value
  • Deliver timely results having good quality at reasonable cost

Why shouldn’t DevOps be leveraged to help IT achieve what are common goals?

Is DevOps a threat to ITSM?

Unfortunately, some see DevOps as a threat. I don’t see it that way; in fact, I see DevOps as another tool in the ITSM toolbox that can help move IT closer to the business it serves. When combined with an Agile approach, DevOps results in reduced risk while doing what is most important to the business first. There are fewer handoffs within IT. There is a more iterative approach for delivering services.

Consider this – if traditional ITSM had the answer all along, then why have so many ‘gone gaga’ over DevOps?

Could it be that those ITSM implementations missed the target? Didn’t move fast enough? Didn’t have senior IT management support (in other words, wasn’t driven from the CIO)? Never got the support of the business (ITSM should be approached as a ‘business initiative’ enabled by IT)? Only addressed IT operational issues, by rolling out an incident management, request fulfillment, and a bad change management process – then stopped? Never really embraced continual improvement?

The issue is many ITSM implementations fell victim to over-engineering. Rather than implement enough process to keep IT from “screwing up”, ITSM processes were designed and implemented that resulted in IT being “screwed down” so tightly that it can’t move.

I think DevOps and Agile can and should be used to make us rethink some of what we’ve done within our ITSM implementations.

How not to be “that guy (or gal)”

First, DevOps and Agile belong in the ITSM sandbox, just like ITIL®[1] and COBIT®[2] and other methodologies. Develop the vision, define the strategy, then plan how your organization will leverage the right combinations of the right methodologies to deliver the right results. The recognition that we all in IT must be aligned on a single objective – enabling the businesses we serve to have success – is way, way overdue. So IT folks – play nice.

If you’re coming from the (traditional) ITSM side of things and haven’t read or explored more about DevOps, take some time to learn about it. You’ll see a lot of things you’ll recognize. If you’re coming from the DevOps side of things and haven’t read or explored more about ITSM, take some time to learn about it. You will also see a lot of things you’ll recognize. Things like success depends on positive cultural change. Things like having a service mindset. These are just two of the many concepts both ITSM and DevOps are built upon. Go on – explore.

Do a little soul-searching. Has your ITSM implementation truly delivered on the promise? Is what DevOps advocating so different than what other ITSM approaches set out to do? As with anything ITSM, it more about the application of the method, not necessarily the method itself. While the approaches may differ, the goals are similar. Again, I look at DevOps as another tool in the ITSM toolbox. If I can leverage some DevOps concepts within my ITSM implementation to deliver on the promise – why not?

Leverage DevOps to mature your ITSM implementation. Use DevOps as an opportunity to get to some of those things that perhaps you’ve always wanted to do, but could never get buy-in or support. For example – have you tackled release and deployment management? DevOps relies on having a solid release and deployment approach. How about pushing some change authorizations away from the CAB and closer to the people doing the work? DevOps can help with that. Maybe there’s opportunity to automate the obvious – things like password resets, or the provisioning of a standard-configuration virtual server.

DevOps may be just the catalyst your ITSM implementation needs.

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Image credit:  Cartoonresource

[1] ITIL is a registered trademark of AXELOS Limited.

[2] COBIT is a registered trademark of ISACA.

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