Agile & ITIL How They Complement Each Other

There are many different approaches to IT management. As with management in other fields, IT has developed its own certified and carefully researched management methodologies. You’ve likely heard of many different ones with ITIL and Agile Management being among the ones most commonly mentioned. Despite the two appearing very different at a brief glance companies are trying to combine these two approaches to create a superior management framework.

The Differences between Agile & ITIL are chiefly based on philosophy ITIL values a structured planned approach while the Agile method prefers flexibility and responsiveness. However, despite these apparent contradictions these two management methods can work well together and are not as adversarial as they first appear. Agile management courses can help trained ITIL experts to incorporate these two methods into their management approach.   

Understanding Agile Management

If you're seeking to understand agile management you should focus on its core approach to flexibility. With agile management, it divides large projects into easier to manage parts. This allows you to focus on each part as needed and respond accordingly to any needs or changes. It's an approach that allows quick responses to changing circumstances make it easier to change course when issues arise.  

ITIL An Overview

By comparison, ITIL (which formerly stood for Information Technology Infrastructure Library) is a structured approach that is focused more on results. The idea is to deliver value to your customers and assist them in meeting their goals. Where IT shines is in organizing the often complex and messy process of IT work and development. It also favors open communication and transparency allowing for greater cooperation towards a stated goal.  

Bring The Two Together

As each has its own well-defined management approach it can a challenge to see how these two different methods can work together. Agile management, however, is an excellent addition to your existing ITIL strategies as the two methods are more compatible than they first appear. Here are four common traits of agile management and how they can complement your existing ITIL methods.

  1. Individuals and Interactions over processes and tools: a well-defined process and toolset certainly make projects go smoother but they are nothing without skilled people to make use of them. Agile Management with its focus on individuals can strengthen a well crafted ITIL based plan. With proper communication, a process can be refined and the tasks assigned to the employees best suited to handle them.     
  2. Working Software over comprehensive documentation: the IT industry as a whole is known for impressive detail-rich documentation. However, it's entirely possible to get too caught up in the process as opposed to fixing problems. A quick fix of “no changes to our apps can be made without lengthy QA testing” can prevent bad features from sneaking into the software. Detailed documentation about how app changes should be submitted, tested, and the various steps of this process can (and should) be written later.   
  3. Customer Collaboration over contract negotiation: it is entirely possible to meet all the stated goals of a business contract and still have an unhappy client. Your IT company has to do a bit more than simply guarantee uptime and functionality you have to listen to customers. By listening to your clients you can see what their issues are in terms of expectations such a usability, features they want, and so on. This creates a much happier business relationship while still meeting all your agreed upon service goals.   
  4. Responding to Change over following a plan: a well thought out and detailed plan is a useful thing, however, a plan shouldn’t be so complex and so detailed that it becomes inflexible. Inflexibility can cause other wider reaching problems such as a lack of innovation, which has put more than one well-known company out of business. To simplify have a plan but make sure it is adaptable and responsive to outside challenges.   

Final Considerations

The differences between ITIL and Agile Management is what makes them so compatible. Each is focused on different things which make for systems that when properly combined complement each other nicely and make the other stronger.