DevOps and ITSM alignment must be about value, not just compatibility.

The debate around ITSM and DevOps often focuses on the matter of “compatibility” between them. This isn’t the right conversation. The important thing is value.

Simply meshing processes together because they look like they fit, in my experience, tends to result into “throw it over the fence” system integrations, and a lot of WORN (“write-once, read-never”) data.

In 2014, DevOps pioneer and “Phoenix Project” author Gene Kim, wrote an article for the ITSM Review: “Trust me: The DevOps Movement fits perfectly with ITSM”. It’s an good read, because it frames the subject of integration in terms of opportunities to create value:

“…find the automated infrastructure project (e.g., puppet, chef) that provisions servers for deployment. We can help that team with our release management readiness checklists, security hardening checklists and so forth”
“… information from IT Operations is radiated to Development… IT Operations is where value is created, and this feedback is required in order to make good decisions.”

DevOps is, essentially, an application of Lean thinking to software development and deployment. A core principle of Lean is the removal of inefficiencies from the value chain. If it can’t be demonstrated that any integration adds value or removes cost, then no principled Lean practitioner should feel able to adopt it.

Hence, it’s not adequate for ITSM just to ask DevOps to conform to its processes, no matter how brilliantly optimised and streamlined they are. It’s critical to start with why.

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