ITIL4® embraces Agile more than any of the previous versions of ITIL, making it easier to implement and less of an organizational impact when implemented.
While ITIL4 still focuses on providing value to customers, the shift of focus from offering only service management practices to the customer and the value that programs bring to the customer makes it very different from prior iterations of the framework.
Agile is a software development methodology that focuses on making small, iterative changes quickly and with more focus on customer needs.
The seven guiding principles of ITIL 4
One of the ways ITIL 4 shifts its viewpoint from ITIL v.3, 2011 is with a focus on the seven guiding principles that were originally introduced in the Practitioner guidance, but which form the foundation of ITIL 4:
- Focus on Value
- Start Where You Are
- Progress Iteratively with Feedback
- Collaborate and Promote Visibility
- Think and Work Holistically
- Keep It Simple and Practical
- Optimize and Automate
The first principle, “focus on value,” sets the context for why an organization is adopting ITIL and what it is trying to accomplish.
The ITIL foundation guide adds some additional questions to consider when adopting the guiding principles. This helps IT when it engages with customers to determine the services they would consider valuable and which also helps frame the basis of why an organization is adopting ITIL 4 in the first place:
- What? What is the current issue that must be solved?
- Why? Why must this issue be solved?
- How? How can the guiding principle(s) prevent mistakes during the process to the best solution?
The remaining principles are used to deliver on the promise of the framework, but several of these demonstrate why ITIL 4 and Agile work well together.
Start where you are
This principle works well in many organizations and reduces the impact of change often associated with adoption. In its purest sense, this is saying “don’t trash all of the good work you’ve done.”
The idea is to assess and align what works well in an organization and tweak it to be more effective. It also enables an organization to put any pain points to the three questions listed above and determine how to address them. This forms the basis for the work to be performed.
Agile: Progress iteratively with feedback
This is the Agile part of ITIL 4. It brings the concept of making many, small improvements to what’s working well and implementing new practices in small bites, making it far easier to adopt and adapt with ITIL 4.
By working on changes to existing practices in many small iterations, the team can gather feedback and determine if the process is moving in the right direction before implementing more change. This enables an organization to adjust before moving towards the next iterative change.
Optimize and automate
Once the organization has a base ITIL4-adoption program, the work continues, looking for ways to optimize iteratively and automate as many functions as possible.
The ITSM-ITOM connection
The configuration management database (CMDB) is a core component of every ITIL adoption program, because of the data it provides to the other processes, making it possible to diagnose issues and determine the risk of making a change, for example. The less obvious area is the use of automation to improve ITIL4 practices, such as problem management.
Most organizations still use problem management primarily to troubleshoot the root cause of major and repetitive incidents. With appropriate monitoring tools and a good CMDB, however, an organization is poised to become more proactive in its approach.
One of the keys to automating these areas is the use of predictive analytics and artificial intelligence capabilities that are now available in many service management platforms. Applying these capabilities to leverage the CMDB and historical data from event monitoring can help an organization identify problems earlier, prioritize them based on the services they support and then address them as needed.
All of this can be implemented iteratively, starting with an organization’s current state and working closer and closer to a more proactive service management style with every iteration.
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