As every company becomes a software company, your role as an IT professional is evolving from supporting the business to differentiating the business. You’re now enabling change and technical innovation to drive competitive advantage.

To keep up in this world, it’s time for IT teams to move toward agile approaches that value ease of use, collaboration, and delivering value.

Moving the IT industry forward

Recognizing this shift, IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL)—the most commonly used ITSM framework—is experiencing its biggest update in over a decade. For the first time, the development was crowd-sourced by over 2,200 IT professionals across roles and industries.

The ITIL 4 release represents a major paradigm shift for IT teams. What’s new is that ITIL 4 moves from the overly-prescriptive frameworks associated with the old ways of working to a more flexible and adaptive approach.

IT teams used to operate with heavy and burdensome requirements, but the new ITIL 4 guide offers more practical guidance that integrates Lean, Agile, and DevOps concepts. Think best practices like continual improvement, value streams, and visual boards. Shifting from step-by-step processes to more holistic practices, ITIL 4 embraces an integrated approach to managing work.

What it means for you

The future of IT is here, and there’s a lot to digest! In addition to the guidance laid out by the ITIL 4 Foundation, we’re sharing three helpful principles to enable you and your team to move from cost center to revenue driver, and helping you become a tech leader in the process.

1. Focus on outcomes, not outputs

When IT teams focus on checking the boxes and “business as usual,” the never-ending flow of issues, defects, and incidents continues. Instead, prioritize the work that is aligned to long-term business goals. Look for ways to streamline your work to minimize unnecessary tasks and maximize value. The goal is to move from “doing things right” to “doing the right things.”

Tip #1:  We recommend a familiar concept from lean methodology—the value stream. By visualizing the end-to-end process, your team can identify wasteful steps, bottlenecks, and ways to improve. It can be as easy as using a stack of Post-its and a conference wall.

You can map the value stream for any service, product, or process. For example, your service desk is a good place to start. Consider each step that is taken between service request to service delivery. This can help you see where bottlenecks exist, and where automation can help improve your flow of work.

Instead of legacy change control processes that are time-consuming, bring in more collaboration and speed. You can automate low-risk change requests, and use peer reviews for faster approvals.

2. Culture + practices > Tools + processes

Many IT teams believe they’re using the “right” tools and following the “right” processes, but still fail to achieve results. They spend time and money on complex tools with little to show for it, except higher costs and decreased velocity.

The problem is that they are missing culture and practices. Shared values and attitudes allow you to build a resilient organization that can quickly adapt to change. For teams who don’t yet have their own values, ITIL 4 offers “Guiding Principles,” such as “Focus on Value,” “Collaborate and Promote Visibility,” and “Think and Work Holistically,” as a starting point for building a healthy organizational culture.

Instead of insisting on strict processes, healthy teams adopt adaptable practices and behaviors, based on collaboration and transparency.

Tip #2: Building an open and collaborative culture can seem daunting. Based on our experience working with thousands of high-velocity teams, we created the Atlassian Team Playbook. Start with a Health Monitor, which provides a baseline for team health, allows you to track progress, and builds trust among team members.

For more technical matters like incidents, a strong, team-centric incident management practice transforms how you respond to and recover from major incidents. Set up your own practice using the Atlassian Incident Response plays which cover everything from establishing a game plan, to how to communicate, to continuous improvement with Post Incident Reviews (PIRs).

3. Embrace Agile and DevOps

It’s no longer ITSM versus Agile, or ITSM versus DevOps. ITIL 4 encourages an integrated approach that combines best practices across all ways of working, such as Agile, DevOps, and Lean. These methodologies keep rules simple, allowing teams to adapt based on the situation, focus on good outcomes for the customer, and learn from failure.

Tip #3: Continual improvement is one major component in ITIL 4. Instead of a single “big bang” release, teams work iteratively by breaking work into smaller, two-to-four week cycles. Implement faster feedback loops by learning, adjusting, and building capabilities for later phases. 
Agile retrospective meetings use a people-centric approach to help teams reflect on and discuss what works well (and what doesn’t), so they can improve.

Atlassian has been incorporating Agile methodology and DevOps practices into our IT processes for years, and we’re excited to see this way of working become the industry standard. From quickly delivering new functionality, to recovering from outages, to planning and managing available resources, organizations are facing an unprecedented rate of change. Now is the time for high-velocity IT teams to embrace the shift from rigid rules to flexible guidelines to move the business forward.

Looking for practical tips on how to bring agility and collaboration into ITSM?

Get Atlassian’s guide to ITIL 4

What ITIL 4 means for you and your team