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By Isaac Sacolick, President | CIO | Author


Agile development teams that want to innovate and release features faster adopt DevOps practices to plan, deliver, and monitor applications. They automate deployments with continuous integration and delivery (CI/CD) and manage cloud environments with infrastructure as code (IaC). Many Agile development organizations adopt Jira Software and Confluence to help teams collaborate during the development process.

But what happens after development teams deploy applications? The DevOps lifecycle has steps for monitoring and operating applications, followed by providing continuous feedback to development teams. Tools like Opsgenie monitor the applications, databases, and infrastructure and send out alerts when there are incidents. And Statuspage communicates the status to end users. Many organizations then have IT Ops teams and service desks using ticketing systems to address end user requests, respond to incidents, track changes, and oversee problem management.

The question is: How can the service desk help close the DevOps lifecycle and provide continuous feedback to development teams?

My answer is, IT Ops and service desks must extend beyond IT service management (ITSM) and consider collaboration and tool integrations to support Agile service management.

This collaboration can be done more easily with tools like Jira Service Management that have integrations with Jira Software and workflow configuration tools, similar to how development teams construct the lifecycle of user stories and other Jira Issues. IT teams can also use Confluence to share documentation, and Opsgenie to alert on system, networks, database, and application issues. A best practice is to work with an Atlassian Solution Provider to lead the implementation, process adoption, and training.


What is Agile Service Management?

Agile Service Management is particularly important for IT and digital organizations that develop and support many applications. Today, that’s the majority of organizations that are implementing digital transformations, improving customer experiences, driving innovation, supporting remote working, and enabling data-driven organizations. These strategic drives are steering greater investments in application development, cloud migrations, and SaaS tool configurations. As organizations develop and enhance more applications, supporting them with Agile Service Management becomes critical.

Agile Service Management can also address some of the challenges organizations have with implementing ITIL. For example, organizations that try implementing rigid ITIL find it harder to support innovations driven by Agile, Scrum, and DevOps practices.

Agile Service Management should start with these five fundamental principles:

  • From the development team’s perspective, a feature or story’s doneness extends to the production environment and is only fully closed if it doesn’t introduce incidents, problems, or end user issues. Organizations should define a time window for validating the impact of releases and features. 
  • The cause of many incidents are changes to the environment, including infrastructure, configuration, and application deployments, so Agile Service Management must make changes transparent to everyone. Additionally, today’s IT organization requires an efficient tool and process for overseeing changes and can no longer rely on pushing all changes through change advisory boards (CABs). 
  • From the IT Ops perspective, major incidents often require support from Agile developers, testers, and other DevOps team member support. Ops should only close problems once completed root cause analysis leads to the creation and resolution of defects.
  • Measuring customer satisfaction can now extend beyond how the service desk addresses the immediate request or incident, to now include how remediations and application enhancements drive happy end users.
  • Service level agreements and support-oriented knowledge bases are centralized and shared between developers, testers, and operators in a wholistic enterprise service management practice.  

Agile service management is the glue that connects the operations world of servicing end users and maintaining production environments with the development world of delivering enhancements.


Closing the DevOps Mission with Agile Service Management

Many organizations have been investing in two IT ways of working between Agile development on one side and ITIL on the other. DevOps practices and culture bridge these worlds and work very well in smaller organizations with cloud-native architectures and fewer operational risks. Larger organizations see more success on the automation from technologies like CI/CD and IaC, but challenges remain in closing the process and culture gaps.

It’s often the Agile development teams that feel the bottlenecks when they can’t collaborate efficiently with IT Ops. They’re using tools like Jira Software and Confluence that can be implemented quickly and updated as new practice needs become apparent. Development teams find it easy to add new issue types, configure workflows, optimize screen layouts, and develop reporting dashboards as new requirements emerge.

To be fair, IT Ops have their own issues responding to higher end user service level expectations and supporting more moving pieces to the infrastructure. They would love developers assisting them to resolve major incidents faster and to implement enhancements that reduce recurring problems.


Why it’s Time to Transition to Agile Service Management

So if both Agile development teams and IT operations want to collaborate on improvements, then what’s the issue?

All too often, it’s the service desk tools and how they were originally implemented for an era that’s now long gone. 

For example, yesterday’s service desk tools were implemented with long forms to fill out so that the IT department received all the information required to address the request or incident. That might have worked well when many of the tickets were infrastructure issues such as broken laptops, VPN issues, and requests for application installs. But today, the Agile service desk has to solve more than fixing the broken, procuring technology, or providing access to a service.

Yesterday’s service desk tools with complicated integrations are not up to the task of a fast-moving, Agile IT department that must evolve to support new needs and challenges. Digital transformation is one challenge as the service desk must support more business-critical applications that get updated on more frequent release cycles. A second challenge now is with COVID-19 as organizations balance remote working while offices slowly begin opening.

Agile Service Management requires easy to integrate workflows connecting IT employees with development, test, and operational responsibilities. When workflows are connected, it aligns all of IT on providing better support to employees, customers, and end users as they respond to new opportunities and challenging times. 

Implementing Jira Service Management, along with Jira Software and Confluence, with an Atlassian Solution Provider offers IT teams an accelerated, integrated platform to support changing and growing requirements. Isn’t that what Agile, DevOps, and ITSM are all about? 

Isaac Sacolick, President of StarCIO, guides companies through smarter, faster, innovative, and safer digital transformation programs that deliver business results. He is the author of the Amazon bestseller, Driving Digital: The Leader’s Guide to Business Transformation through Technology, an industry speaker, and blogger at Social, Agile, and Transformation.

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