Development and operations, aka DevOps, is the marriage between software development and IT operations. The goal of a DevOps team is two-fold: to more quickly make products that are better for customers, and to align more closely with business goals.
While it sounds pretty great, something doesn’t sit well. What about your service department?
Service department representatives often become wary at the mention of DevOps. Why? They don’t want to be left behind or lose their seat at the table. Both DevOps and service teams work toward better customer experience, so how do you keep your services relevant with DevOps at the wheel? Will DevOps be the end of IT service management (ITSM)?
To answer that last question: no, DevOps isn’t going to end your service department. The fundamental goal of having a DevOps team is to improve the alignment between how IT products are created by development and how the operations staff run them once they’re in the real world.
It’s excellent that DevOps wants to be more efficient, but your services have to be able to keep up. How will you match services to customers’ demands if the DevOps team goes its way? The solution is easier than it sounds, and there are real benefits to the ITSM-DevOps collaboration.
Creating a Complete Story
What’s your service department’s main goal—helping your customers? And the primary purpose of DevOps? Are you helping those same customers? One reason a DevOps team exists is to improve customer experience through better alignment across the organization. But, customer experience is your service team’s area of expertise. So, what do you do?
You hop on the DevOps train and change the destination to the ITSM-DevOps department. DevOps is about breaking down silos. The word says it all. You go from the development team and the operations team to a single team working toward the same goal. The DevOps team is all about the product, and your team is all about the service. But, what if the DevOps team makes products you can’t support with excellent service?
Once again, the solution is to work together. As you’re breaking down silos, break down another wall—the wall between product and service.
Bringing ITSM and DevOps Together
Although ITSM and DevOps serve the same customers, they work very differently. DevOps creates and manages the product with the goal of keeping things running. They are responsible for the product as a whole but usually focus on a few changes or improvements at once. They often work according to Agile methods.
In ITSM, however, you’re always getting questions about everything. Your work is unpredictable, and while Agile has a lot to offer, you also need guidelines to create more structure in your team’s work. You probably use the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) framework, which may seem slow and complicated to your DevOps colleagues.
How do you go about uniting the two teams?
Service desks face two main problems when they aren’t that close to DevOps. The combination is paradoxical because DevOps tends to move too fast and too slowly, depending on who is asked and when something is asked.
Here’s what happens: The DevOps team has its own pace and plans, working on products and features according to the demands of key stakeholders. The service desk is the place where your customers go to get their issues fixed or to gather help with existing features, and when existing features don’t provide as needed.
The two tracks aren’t always in sync. For instance, DevOps releases new features faster than they did before development and operations teamed up. That means your service agents are receiving questions they can’t answer yet. Plus, the answers are always changing, so they can’t rely on experience.
Simultaneously, it can feel like you’re waiting forever for DevOps. You may get calls—even recurring calls—about features that need fixing or functionalities that you don’t offer yet. And receiving help from DevOps can sometimes take time because they are currently working on another part of the product.
Getting in Sync
Bringing together DevOps and ITSM can seem like a pacing issue. But you don’t need to work on the same things at the same time, and the question isn’t which branch should be in control.
Collaboration requires communication. DevOps is excellent news for your service desk, provided your service team knows what’s going on. DevOps should always keep ITSM updated on what they’re working on and expected release dates.
At the same time, service teams should always communicate their needs to DevOps. If customers have issues you can’t solve with the means you have available, make sure DevOps knows and provide them with the information they need to understand what customers are asking for, prioritize projects and provide a better product.
DevOps shouldn’t be feared. There is no battle for survival between DevOps and ITSM. Everybody will win when they work together.