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Five AGILE Principles to Apply to Enterprise Service Management

By Jenn Mendyk, Service Management Consultant, Marval North America


The world of Software Development has dramatically evolved. Within the past decade, we have seen tremendous changes in the way applications are built; not only in technology, but also in methodology and the development approach. The development teams are now assigned the challenging task of identifying new market needs and delivering faster, more cost effective but also resilient and reliable products. Project Management tools, DevOps, LEAN, AGILE, SixSigma etc. have been introduced to help the developers manage and coordinate their work in a more efficient way, making sure it corresponds to the business strategy (and the strict deadlines, too!). And while discussions about software development and project management methods go as back as the ‘60s, the link between development and the business strategy has never been so profoundly exposed as it is today.


The same way Service Management has evolved to integrate the link to the organization’s strategy, I reckon. We used to talk about IT Service Management as “those guys in the basement who take care of the IT stuff” (I was one of them) but nobody was quite sure what they actually did, or how their work affected everyone else’s work. This has changed, and ITSM is directly linked to the customer experience and key business metrics, such as customer satisfaction or OPEX. And of course, it’s not about IT anymore; it’s about the organization as a whole, with different departments and functions following the same key principles and culture about customer service.


It’s all about the business; whether in Software Development or in Service Management, the main objective is to serve the primary business goals and support the organization’s strategy. And that’s why some key principles which have positively affected Software Development can be easily applied to have a positive impact to Service Management as well. Starting with AGILE, these five principles can help improve Enterprise Service Management:


  • Bringing individuals and interactions before processes and tools. Our very own, Dr. Don Page, has been evangelizing this for years: Service Management is all about people. Processes and technologies are only 20% of the deal; people are the factor that determines whether customer service is poor, fair or excellent. By bringing people and interactions (either within the Service Desk team, or with customers) in the epicenter, we are more able to identify areas of improvement and act on them, ensuring we make amendments on things that really matter to the customer, and to our staff.


  • Responding to change fast. AGILE has a focus on quick response to change, even at late stages of the development process. This same principle can help significantly improve customer service, with accelerated change and the provision of a more reliable and highly available business environment, and (hopefully) “always on” services for the customer.


  • Close collaboration with the business. AGILE does not encourage silos (although many of the development teams would happily embrace them!). On the contrary, it supports collaboration among the developers and the business teams. This principle is relevant to Service Management, too. Just imagine a Service Desk where Analysts work closely with other business functions; interacting together, sharing the same culture, exchanging views on how to improve customer service… Sounds too good to be true? Well, AGILE doesn’t think so!


  • Sustainability, the ability to maintain a constant pace. If this is important in Software Development, it’s crucial in Service Management, as it promotes consistency of service delivery, supported by well-designed processes and reporting on fix and escalation rates. It’s the basis of service improvement.


  • Regular evaluations of team effectiveness and adjustments. Continual Service Improvement starts with recognizing areas of improvement, and the best way to do so is by having frequent and regular evaluations of the Service Desk team’s performance, reflecting on ways to become more effective, and adopting new ways of working.


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