Bringing IT service management (ITSM) together with DevOps and Agile development approaches is a  smart way to innovate. While Agile can be vital to instituting a nimbler and more flexible ITSM function  or operational management style, DevOps helps you work toward your goals in the timeliest manner  across the entire ecosystem.  

ITSM, when stoic and monolithic, can become burdensome to an organization’s entire operation.  Cumbersome ITSM practices also can act as a roadblock for many IT organizations and can’t be  abandoned in the current state of helpdesk and ticket management. However, resolving to make change  and enabling nimbleness in your ITSM can ignite your organization to become one that responds  exceedingly quickly to grow and scale people and processes. 

In many ways, ITSM and DevOps are symbiotic. When placed in relation together, both the tangible (the  helpdesk or ITSM) and the intangible (DevOps-focused approaches) support each other. Thus, it’s time  to talk about nuptials.  

Marry DevOps with ITSM 

DevOps and ITSM have similarities in that they both deliver value to boost customer experience. But  they have very different focuses: DevOps has a narrower focus on the software delivery lifecycle and  building and delivering software, while ITSM has a broader focus on all aspects of customer  engagement. So, for example, one is the approach taken for how to do such and such, while the other is  the platform that everything gets done on.  

DevOps helps deliver and fulfill standard services and ongoing development to support future  development activities. ITSM serves as bookends for DevOps, the rails upon which to roll.  

Using DevOps and ITSM in harmony will increase efficiency because DevOps redefines IT adaptability and agility, while ITSM rules the processes to meet all requirements for successful and secure  deployment. ITSM absolutely can play nice with DevOps. While they have different approaches, they  work to deliver customer interaction and engagement. 

But there is no single right way to integrate ITSM and DevOps. ITSM continues to provide controls while  DevOps allows for flexibility. Look at mutual values, like objectives. 

Keep in mind why they all must work together. Don’t lose sight of the objectives you are trying to  achieve by using ITSM and DevOps together. Help your DevOps team understand your ITSM needs with  proper training and vice versa. This will help both teams learn integration rather than just learning  technology. 

ITSM’s strong suit is its disciplined approach to change management. DevOps benefits from that  disciplined approach to managing rapid software changes and delivering higher quality software. Of  course, there will be issues and outages when there are software changes, but change management is  needed to provide crucial customer-facing systems and provide analysis to investigate issues.

Automate implementing good and known changes that allow for iteration, agility, and innovation. Hold off on making high-risk changes that need more than one person to sign off on before making it in front  of a customer. 

There are some preconceived notions about ITSM that breed skepticism around using ITSM to support  DevOps. However, ITSM no longer has to be the entry point for getting things done like it was in the  1990s. These systems now allow for automation flows and self-service requests. ITSM happens in the  background and is automatically created, maintained and measured using DevOps tools. 

There is no longer a need for rigid silos between ITSM tools and DevOps approaches. Many  organizations still use them. They talk to each other, so there is no need for developers to have their  own product-backlog management tools or bug-tracking. 

ITSM professionals can instead bridge the gap, enabling the speed of DevOps. Many organizations still  depend on old versions of ITSM that do not include add-ons. However, the latest ITSM tools have tons of  integration points. As well, there are several forms of iteration, including finding small ways to  streamline processes or automating in incremental ways. Then, over time, you can marry ITSM to  DevOps practices. 

Gaining agility with paired ITSM and DevOps 

ITSM tools can build and maintain the platform for practicing DevOps. ITSM is one of the three central  pillars of IT implementation. Those pillars are people, process, and technology. While DevOps brings  automated technology, ITSM brings the processes. Together, both can bring improvements to the  customer experience. 

ITSM processes can be adapted to become more agile and underpin a faster workflow. ITSM is an  ever-evolving archive of practices to codify processes and procedures to underpin world-class IT  operations. As a result, ITSM can become more agile to ensure its processes reflect values designed with  enough control and structure to deliver services efficiently and effectively for better customer  outcomes. 

The agility of any ITSM process may need to be reviewed to meet current business requirements. In  addition, roles such as supplier management, request management, or service level management may  need to be combined or responsibilities dispersed. So, instead of deciding between DevOps and ITSM,  integrate them together to provide a crucial set of tools to move your company forward and more  closely align with customer needs. 

The risks of marriage 

When setting up a DevOps project, it is useful to establish a common vision for operators and  developers. Teams that prioritize user experience tend to be more effective than teams focusing on  writing the ‘perfect code.’ Often, high rates of scalability produced by DevOps can outpace ITSM  scalability. So, establishing a common vision can result in a consistent rise of scalability. 

One final thing to take into consideration during project design is the differentiation between all-around  professionals that have a broad knowledge of testing, deployment, support and development, and  experts specializing in each of those sections. This can be of excellent value when an organization is  shifting away from a legacy ITSM platform and needs to avoid various process bottlenecks.