Can ITIL and Agile coexist? I believe that the answer is an overwhelming YES! From an ITIL perspective, the move to increased development agility creates an even greater need for a well-defined framework and set of governance in place. This integration helps to ensure a superior level of quality across the entire infrastructure of development.
ITIL also ensures that the development process is focused on the stakeholders or customers, entirely possible and compatible in an Agile or Lean environment.
Former SunView Software CTO, Russ Miller, provided some of his thoughts on mapping RFC processing to Agile:
1. CAB Meeting is Used to Prioritize the Backlog
Take an agile methodology mindset to CAB. Instead of holding weekly or monthly CABs, have daily scrums to prioritize change requests. Place the less urgent and non-routine requests on a backlog. Let the responsible teams decide how much of the backlog they can achieve in a short period of time, say two weeks.
2. User Stories/Story Points Help Document RFC's
Scrutinize the change requests to ensure they are properly broken down, the same way agile software developers break things down feature requests into User Stories with Story Points assigned.
3. Change Manager Becomes Scrum Master
The Change Manager would act as the Scrum Manager overseeing quick daily standup meetings to talk about progress on the current Sprints - RFCs. The Scrum Master's mantra: Plan a little; do a little; test a little - create a tight feedback loop.
Understanding the ITIL Language
35 Key Terms and Definitions - Free Help Guide
4. Continuous Improvement to Optimize Agility
By focusing on well-defined batches of changes (Sprints) and by minimizing the amount of work in progress at a given time, you can judge the velocity of successful changes and provide more transparency into what the bottlenecks are. Using a burn down chart during each Sprint review allows you to measure velocity.
5. Automated Testing is Fully Compatible
A big part of agile software development is automation, especially around testing and deployment. Here ITIL processes and agile software development definitely converge. IT operations can utilize some automated testing practices to monitor systems both for how it functions and how it is configured (desired state monitoring).
Although the entire concept behind the move to Agile process is a faster speed to the market and an ability for developers to implement ideas without overbearing processes in the way, ITIL needs a place at the table. As Richard Stobart with Unboxed Consulting says, "Agile is the catalyst for change, and ITIL helps the organisation deal with it."