Joining up Agile and ITIL for DevOps success

This post was written by Matthew Skelton co-author of Team Guide to Software Operability.

We recently gave a webinar in which we outlined how Agile and ITIL® can be used in a complementary way to help DevOps practices. Here is the video for the webinar; a summary of the talk is below, along with the slides.

Summary: Joining up Agile and ITIL® for DevOps success

Feedback in Agile, ITIL®, and DevOps

Agile methods favour iterative, early delivery, collaboration with stakeholders, responding to change, and working software rather than extensive documentation and planning. ITIL® is a library of good practices for IT service management, not a prescriptive framework. ITIL® also emphasises continual improvement of ongoing services, not ‘finished’ software. A key aspect of a DevOps approach is that handoffs are to be avoided if speed and quality of delivery (and effectiveness of operation) are to be maximised. Agile, ITIL®, and DevOps all have a shared focus on working software, and emphasise iterative improvement and collaboration.

The feedback loops within Agile are tightly focused on the development phase of the software, which maps roughly to the Service Design and Service Transition phases of ITIL® (perhaps to Service Operation too, for more advanced organisations). The feedback loops in ITIL® cover the wider lifecycle of the software system, including specific improvements based on how the software works in operation. DevOps advocates feedback and improvement at ALL stages of the software’s life; Gene Kim’s ‘Three Ways of DevOps‘ show how – by avoiding hand-offs between Dev and Ops teams – we can continually improve software systems. By finding ways to use feedback from existing Agile and ITIL® practices, and making these feedback loops tighter and more rapid, we move towards a DevOps model of continual improvement.

Practical steps for joining up Agile + ITIL®

There are several ways in which Dev and Ops teams can be brought together within Agile and ITIL® contexts to build a collaborative DevOps approach:

Crucially, although the feedback times for improvements for many organisations using ITIL® have until now been slow (days or weeks), nothing in ITIL mandates this kind of sluggishness. The Continual Service Improvement feedback loops in ITIL® can happen within minutes or hours if the right kind of collaboration is set up between Dev and Ops teams, and shared tools are used effectively: a DevOps approach.

Thanks to Unicom Seminars for hosting the webinar. ITIL® is a Registered Trade Mark of AXELOS Limited.

Skelton Thatcher can help you devise, execute, and sustain activities and efforts to bring Dev and Ops teams closer together through workshops, tools on-boarding, and demonstrations. Call us to discuss your requirements: 020 8242 4103 or email

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