Bringing Agile Into Service Management

Agile Service Management

What do you know about Agile service management? Agile is not so much a tool as it is a mindset. But how do you use that philosophy to change the way you work? Agile is a set of values that, if used correctly, can help you be more flexible in how you work. It was initially introduced in software development as a solution to work around heavily documented development processes that make it difficult to release new functionalities.

As you may already know, the Agile Manifesto includes four values:

  1. Individuals and interactions over tools and processes
  2. Working software over comprehensive documentation
  3. Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  4. Responding to changes over following a plan to the tee.
Agile is not so much a tool as it is a mindset. But how do you use that philosophy to change the way you work in service management? Here Ruben Franzen of @TOPdesk shares his experience-based insights. #ITSM #Agile Share on X

In recent years, Agile has gained more traction in sales and marketing, and people have found ways to take the Agile core values and apply them to all types of organizations. Agile service management is also a philosophy you may use to determine how you want to set up your work. However, two factors affect your Agile service management implementation efforts – value to customers and your understanding of the organization’s maturity for change.

Making service management more Agile

With Agile service management everything you do should add value for your customers. Unfortunately, IT departments often put too much into projects of little value to customers, dwelling on creations already accessible to customers on the internet or elsewhere. Hence, it is outdated before they even finish their work.

Using Agile service management, or Agile IT service management (ITSM), you involve your customers in almost everything you do. That way, you are working on things other than assumptions. You can come up with solutions together with your customers. You can spare your customer’s frustration, for example, by allowing them to log a call, then tick a box for whether they wish to receive updates. Frustration gone.

Using Agile service management, you involve your customers in almost everything you do. That way, you are working on things other than assumptions – @TOPdesk #Agile #ITSM Share on X

Agile service management is all about having the right people in the right places. While many IT departments rely heavily on processes, it matters who supplies the services. You do not want an unmotivated service desk employee leaving a negative impression on your customers. The process does not fix this. Take time for your team. It is part of the Agile process.

With Agile service management, you want to ensure your team members are good at their jobs and happy with their work. If you have a team member who is no longer motivated, talk to them about how to change their mindset. They might be better suited to a different role.

A few other important Agile service management factors include:

  • Keep your process flexible. Ensure that your Request for Change has a pre-defined set of steps. Have enough flexibility to deal with your team’s ever-changing demands rather than having a process that only allows you to approve or decline a request. This does not mean you have to agree on every change, but you have room for your team to deal with the processes as they see fit.
  • Collect and use feedback to accomplish this. Consider setting up a basic version of your call management process and going live as quickly as possible. It may not be a perfect process, but it is usable. Then, while you continue to work on the next process, collect feedback to improve call management.
  • Keep the process straightforward. Do not include a lot of unnecessary management authorizations. You lose flexibility when you do that. Also, it bogs down a manager who must approve so many authorizations.
  • The process should not be so cumbersome. Discuss with your IT department how much control you want or need. Requests do not each need to be authorized. Instead, have IT set up a monthly overview of costs, so the manager still controls costs but is not bogged down in the authorization process. That way, the employee gets help sooner.
  • Keep it small. Compare your current services with the Agile principles. Make minor improvements and ask for feedback. Then, move on to the next Agile service management improvement.

The most important thing for success

While these strategies are critical to developing and leading Agile service management workflows, ultimately, they add up to one thing: think pragmatically. Thinking pragmatically is as simple as thinking big and starting small.

Starting small may include something as simple as selecting tools that allow you to be Agile with out-of-the-box software or software that doesn’t require coding—choosing a solution based on best practices, which enable an Agile and pragmatic approach. However, one limiting factor for successful Agile service management implementation begins with pragmatic thinking—a mature understanding of your organization to determine the correct approaches to move forward and to secure the right solutions to meet your Agile goals accordingly.

This article via @TOPdesk looks at the most important thing for #Agile service management success. Read it here. #ITSM Share on X

What often happens, however, is that organizational leaders try to become now who they want to be in five or ten years. Thus, they don’t implement the appropriate Agile service management strategies or select the solutions needed to get there but take a path that doesn’t help them connect the now with the then.

Often, they don’t move forward based on their current maturity level, which they can grow with over the coming years. Instead, they move forward with a plan that requires massive amounts of customizations, coding, lengthy implementation, and even hiring external consultants. Ultimately, they haven’t made any progress but have bogged themselves down in costs, resource loss, and even solutions that don’t get them closer to automation or an Agile mindset.

Because they’ve overshot their understanding of their maturity, they’ve done nothing more than hamper the entire organization based on hopes and wishes rather than on truth and a steady understanding of how the organization can reach its goals.

I liken this to purchasing a car or fixing a leaky faucet. For example, in most pursuits (achieving Agile or otherwise), you need a car to get to the grocery store, but you wouldn’t buy a semi-trailer for the task. Instead, a sedan will do. Likewise, you don’t need to renovate the kitchen because you have a leaky faucet.

Often, the quickest solution to the peskiest problems is solving the most pressing problem. The Agile service management approach is fixing the sink or opting for the subcompact for a few grocery runs rather than a convoy to move the contents of a warehouse.

Further Reading

If you enjoyed this Agile article, here is some further reading.

Ruben Franzen
President at TOPdesk

Ruben is the president of TOPdesk USA a leading global provider of innovative enterprise service management solutions.

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