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ITIL and the Rise of Agile, DevOps, and Lean

Integrating best practices to make High Velocity IT possible

Pierre-Olivier Portmann Service Management Consulting - 14/10/2019

Although ITIL continued to be adopted due to its proven IT practices implemented by many thousands of organizations through the mid-2000s, many organizations were looking for something more when it comes to service management.

Three key practices emerged: Agile, DevOps and Lean, each of these practices brought something of real value to IT service providers but in different, complementary ways.

Agile: a framework for rapid, quality development

To keep up with the increasing pace of business and technology change, a new framework for application development was required. The focus of Agile is on speedy development through developing and delivering the features of applications and products in production in smaller functional units in an iterative manner.

Agile provides a software development framework that filled a real need – enabling development teams to carry out fast, effective delivery of software that provided value in a constantly changing environment.

DevOps: a movement to break down silos between teams

Although many development teams had adopted Agile to speed the lifecycle and delivery of new and improved software, a barrier still seemed to exist between many Dev and Ops teams. DevOps emerged around the mid-2000 as "movement" to address this common barrier, and the "siloed" nature of many IT organizations – with the fact that many IT organizations were structured around technology, with departments composed of technical teams, application teams, and other operational teams.

By adopting DevOps, organizations began to learn how critical it was for Development and Operations teams to work closely together. The notion of vertical cross-functional teams became popular among many "high-velocity" organizations as a way to tear down silos and empower teams to work in a collaborative way and take End-to-End responsibility of a service and its components.

Lean: a practice to maximize quality by eliminating waste

In addition to Agile and DevOps, many organizations began adopting the practice of Lean IT to bring added focus on continuous improvement. Lean IT practices focused on increasing customer value, eliminating waste from the existing processes and procedures, and optimizing operations.

In addition to reducing wastes and improving a specific process, Lean IT also emphasized building a culture, one that respects all employees and enables them to pursue opportunities to improve their work and share ideas for continuous improvement.

Each of the three practices brought something to the "IT Table." However, an overall operating model was required.

ITIL 4 provides the overall framework for High-Velocity organizations

To enable organizations to be responsive to the faster pace of business change, and to function as a flexible and adaptable framework for all types of businesses, ITIL 4 provides a new operating model — the Service Value System, so that all the components and activities of an organization can quickly and effectively work together to enable value realization for all stakeholders.

ITIL 4’s guiding principles provide the high-level decision-making guidance that Agile, DevOps, and Lean practices need — enabling an organization to improve the quality of decision making under all circumstances.

As a conclusion, the ITIL 4 framework is the overall, integrated framework that helps guide, enable, and equip organizations of all types and sizes to meet the challenges of the new digital age that is upon us.


“Lean IT”: https://itsm.ucsf.edu/lean-it

“Agile, Mobility and the App Economy: Driving a New Approach to ITSM”: https://www.thinkhdi.com/library/supportworld/2015/itsm-app-economy.aspx

“Combining Different IT and ITSM Frameworks for Business Benefit: ITIL 4”: https://www.axelos.com/news/blogs/february-2019/combining-it-itsm-frameworks-for-business-benefit

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Pierre-Olivier Portmann Service Management Consulting


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