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Agile and ITIL: Friends or Foes?

Today, many IT organizations are expanding their IT businesses using ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) and other valuable industry frameworks for ITSM (IT Service Management). They are focussing on improving their service quality. In addition to quality, companies are trying to build agility, with the emergence of new technology and methodology like Agile Software Development.  Recent reports from ITSM.tools emphasized upon the factors that organizations measure during work in IT industry. The following image shows the statistics of the aspects, as measured by the organizations. Even after the use of these methodologies and technologies to speed up delivery, IT operations were not able to get on with the fastest delivery rate of IT services. So industries carried out many discussions regarding the combination of ITIL and Agile- Is it possible that both can coexist within an organization? Can ITIL and Agile play major role after merging service quality with agility and speed? Will Agile and ITIL together becomes friends or foes? The article has tried to address this as precisely as possible.  ITIL provides a framework for the governance of IT from the business and customer outlook. ITIL is referred as the best practice framework for IT service management (ITSM). It focuses on continuous measurement and improvement in the quality of the IT services delivered to the customers. According to the ITIL Practitioner course, ITIL includes 9 guiding principles as follows: Focus on value Design for experience Start where you are Work holistically Progress iteratively Observe directly Be transparent Collaborate Keep it simple Agile is a set of processes for software development which fulfills customer requirements and solutions from the cross-functional teams. Companies need to adopt the key points from the Agile Manifesto to achieve Agile ITSM. The key points are as follows: Individuals and Interactions over processes and tools Working Software over comprehensive documentation Customer Collaboration over contract negotiation Responding to Change over following a plan. If these Agile practices are matched with the 9 principles of ITIL, you will find some striking similarities. ‘Working software’ is an equivalent to ‘Focus on value’- which means develop the right things, the valued software can be used by the customers. The ‘Keep it Simple’ principle clearly explains how close ITIL and Agile are! This principle suggests to act quickly and deliver quality, which is the same as ‘Responding to change’.    One of the main hurdles in the integration of Agile and ITIL is the truth that ITIL follows sequential framework, whereas Agile is an iterative approach where Minimum Viable Products (MVPs) are constructed and updated in a very short period cycle. This may create instability. However, businesses and their clients look for stable and agile IT services. DevOps can be the solution for it. It is a more endurable approach for bringing these two contrasting approaches to enable stability and agility (Development and Operations), together. DevOps is based on the combination and communication between Development (Dev) and IT Operations (Ops). DevOps provides technical practices to produce a software. The goal behind DevOps technology is to automate an application delivery and workflow of the processes (planning, design, implementation, testing).  In future, there will be a lean, fast and agile IT service management. According to Gene Kim, thought leader and co-author of The Phoenix Project- “Patterns and processes that emerge from DevOps are the inevitable outcome of applying Lean principles to the IT value stream […and] ITSM practitioners are uniquely equipped to help in DevOps initiatives, and create value for the business”. Essentially, considering the diverse perspectives, Agile and ITIL can exist without some major conflict. Agile and ITIL can very much go hand in hand, because this combination allows IT organizations to have a new culture called, Agile ITSM. ITIL will offer a framework for stable and quality-assured service rapid delivery, whereas DevOps will ensure to provide the continuous stream of improvements. Due to the alliance of Agile/DevOps and ITIL principles, Agile ITSM can provide guidelines for service and the speediest delivery in an Agile way!   
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Agile and ITIL: Friends or Foes?

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Agile and ITIL: Friends or Foes?

Today, many IT organizations are expanding their IT businesses using ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) and other valuable industry frameworks for ITSM (IT Service Management). They are focussing on improving their service quality. In addition to quality, companies are trying to build agility, with the emergence of new technology and methodology like Agile Software Development. 

Recent reports from ITSM.tools emphasized upon the factors that organizations measure during work in IT industry. The following image shows the statistics of the aspects, as measured by the organizations.


Even after the use of these methodologies and technologies to speed up delivery, IT operations were not able to get on with the fastest delivery rate of IT services. So industries carried out many discussions regarding the combination of ITIL and Agile- Is it possible that both can coexist within an organization? Can ITIL and Agile play major role after merging service quality with agility and speed? Will Agile and ITIL together becomes friends or foes? The article has tried to address this as precisely as possible. 

ITIL provides a framework for the governance of IT from the business and customer outlook. ITIL is referred as the best practice framework for IT service management (ITSM). It focuses on continuous measurement and improvement in the quality of the IT services delivered to the customers. According to the ITIL Practitioner course, ITIL includes 9 guiding principles as follows:

  • Focus on value
  • Design for experience
  • Start where you are
  • Work holistically
  • Progress iteratively
  • Observe directly
  • Be transparent
  • Collaborate
  • Keep it simple

Agile is a set of processes for software development which fulfills customer requirements and solutions from the cross-functional teams. Companies need to adopt the key points from the Agile Manifesto to achieve Agile ITSM. The key points are as follows:

  • Individuals and Interactions over processes and tools
  • Working Software over comprehensive documentation
  • Customer Collaboration over contract negotiation
  • Responding to Change over following a plan.

If these Agile practices are matched with the 9 principles of ITIL, you will find some striking similarities. ‘Working software’ is an equivalent to ‘Focus on value’- which means develop the right things, the valued software can be used by the customers. The ‘Keep it Simple’ principle clearly explains how close ITIL and Agile are! This principle suggests to act quickly and deliver quality, which is the same as ‘Responding to change’.   

One of the main hurdles in the integration of Agile and ITIL is the truth that ITIL follows sequential framework, whereas Agile is an iterative approach where Minimum Viable Products (MVPs) are constructed and updated in a very short period cycle. This may create instability. However, businesses and their clients look for stable and agile IT services.

DevOps can be the solution for it. It is a more endurable approach for bringing these two contrasting approaches to enable stability and agility (Development and Operations), together. DevOps is based on the combination and communication between Development (Dev) and IT Operations (Ops). DevOps provides technical practices to produce a software. The goal behind DevOps technology is to automate an application delivery and workflow of the processes (planning, design, implementation, testing). 

In future, there will be a lean, fast and agile IT service management. According to Gene Kim, thought leader and co-author of The Phoenix Project- “Patterns and processes that emerge from DevOps are the inevitable outcome of applying Lean principles to the IT value stream […and] ITSM practitioners are uniquely equipped to help in DevOps initiatives, and create value for the business”.

Essentially, considering the diverse perspectives, Agile and ITIL can exist without some major conflict. Agile and ITIL can very much go hand in hand, because this combination allows IT organizations to have a new culture called, Agile ITSM. ITIL will offer a framework for stable and quality-assured service rapid delivery, whereas DevOps will ensure to provide the continuous stream of improvements. Due to the alliance of Agile/DevOps and ITIL principles, Agile ITSM can provide guidelines for service and the speediest delivery in an Agile way! 
 

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Who Is a CSPO? - Roles and Responsibilities

1.1 What is a Product Owner?A Product Owner is a role defined in Scrum. Scrum is a framework for complex product development (*). The Product Owner is responsible for maximising the value of the product resulting from the work performed the Development Team. The role exists in Scrum to have 1 person with a clear accountability of WHAT product or service will be built. 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Product management is a multi-disciplinary job, and it involves to understand, empathise, quickly inspect & adapt, each time with the accountability to make the right choices in terms of what to built next, in order to continuously (incrementally) deliver value to end-users. In order to better understand what kind of profile is needed to fulfil the product owner role, it’s valuable to list skills required and activities performed.When looking for a Product Owner, you’re looking for a profile with generic product management skills and product-specific skills.  The generic skills are needed to be able make decisions on a strategic and tactical level.People skills a Product Owner must have:A Product Owner also needs people skills:To empathise with users of the productTo build connections with stakeholders and to create a healthy working relationship with the team building the product. These people skills include- to be able to listen (to stakeholders, end users, team members), to translate information (between people with a different background), to be able to make  informed decisions without undermining longer-term objectives, etc.The product-specific skills are defined by the product or service that’s being built. 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This is a certification offered by the Scrum Alliance, specifically for the Product Owner role. PSPO is an abbreviation which stands for Profession Scrum Product Owner. This is a certification offered by scrum.org, specifically for the Product Owner role.In my opinion, both certifications are equivalent and define a high-quality standard. There’s a difference in the way of obtaining certifications and how to maintain this. Certifications issued by Scrum Alliance are obtained by taking an online exam after mandatory attending a 2-day training given by a Certified Scrum Trainer.Certifications issued by scrum.org are obtained by taking an online exam without the prerequisite of attending a training. Certifications issued by scrum.org do not expire. Of course, to test and validate your knowledge, having a decent understanding of the product owner role is mandatory, therefore preparation and study are key. Participating in a training to learn, and to experience what Scrum is about, is always highly recommended.1.6 Product owner in agile software development The manifesto of agile software development does not specify anything about the Product Owner role. Therefore, it’s perfectly possible to have an agile team without a Product Owner.The manifesto for agile software development does state a few principles which illustrate how we want to work regarding product and value delivery, for example:“Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software;”“Welcome changing requirements, even late in development;”“Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale;”“Business people and developers must work together daily; ““Working software is the primary measure of progress;”You can interpret these principles as following, in what you should NOT be doing…Waste time & effort creating long-term plans, long cycle times, etc without actually delivery usable product increments to the end-users, …Waste time & effort on unnecessary specifications; unfinished product (“inventory”); or unvalidated requirements (which are assumptions in disguise), …Waste time & effort on unnecessary handovers between business people and development teams, …Waste time & effort on assuming what’s valuable for the end-users, and not verifying this by letting end-users try out working software and based upon their feedback, inspect & adapt, improve the product together, …Wasting time & effort in demanding upfront detailed estimates for unreasonable long periods (e.g. all estimates for the next year…)Wasting time & effort on detailed long-term planning, fixing agreements, treating change as evil, …1.7 Product owner in Scaling AgileLets first make the statement that you need to consider it twice before blindly scaling up any development efforts. In general, we are trying to deliver value by keeping things simple, simplify working processes, and collaborate to maximise effectiveness and customer satisfaction. In case you need to align several development teams to work together on the same product, take the following into account:A product has 1 product owner, this means in case of several teams developing on the same product, there’s 1 product ownerA product is defined as something meaningful and valuable for a customer or end-user, not a technical componentA product has 1 product backlog, as long the product lives, the product backlog existsA product owner can delegate areas of the product to other product owners, but take care to not have “proxy” product owners, with a mandate to decide. The ‘chief’ product owner remains accountable for overall prioritisation. Some scaling frameworks make a distinction between “product management” and “product ownership”, in any case ensure there’s alignment regarding product management, no conflict in priorities, and no unnecessary handovers of information.1.8 Who is accountable for the business value delivered by a Scrum team?The Product Owner is responsible for maximising the value. A Scrum Team collaborates to deliver value together. The Product Owner remains  accountable.1.9 What exactly is the role of the Product Owner during the Daily Scrum?The Product Owner is not required to attend the Daily Scrum. The Daily Scrum is an inspect & adapt time-boxed event for the development and performed by the development. This is defined in this way because otherwise the Daily Scrum will quickly be run as a status meeting (and not a daily planning event). Of course, the Product Owner can be present during the Daily Scrum, as it’s a great moment to check-in with a team, listen how a team is synchronising, ask and answer questions - after the Daily Scrum. The Product Owner, nor the Scrum Master should be leading the Daily Scrum. They can be present, but the Daily Scrum is an activity (‘Scrum’ metaphor of Rugby), for and by the development team. The Product Owner defines a sprint goal (a sprint is a time-boxed iteration to deliver a potentially shippable product increment); the Development Team inspects its progress on a daily basis towards that sprint goal, using the sprint backlog.1.10 What are certain anti-patterns regarding Product Owner?Some example anti-patterns regarding Product Owners; this can be used in an exercise to coach Product Owners. Ask what should be done to be the WORSE Product OwnerIdentify what’s actually being done of that listIdentify what should be STOPPED doing, in order to improveSome anti-patterns of Product Ownership Becoming a bottleneck in communication, so that’s there’s a delay in the flow of value between the development team, end-users, and stakeholders, …Taking decisions in isolation, so that the reason why decisions are taken are not known, nor understood, …Specifying technical solutions, and not articulating the business value, … (technical solutions are the responsibility of a development team)Pressuring the speed of delivery, resulting in less quality and inability to validate if value is being delivered, …Not listening to the product development team’s recommendations, not engaging in any healthy dialogue, …Not articulating the product’s vision, and/or strategy, resulting in development teams functioning as “feature factory”, without investigating what’s valuable and what’s not, …Inadequate product backlog management, resulting in unready items to plan, long inventory, unclear prioritisation, …Not accepting or rejecting work according to the definition of done, resulting in unclear standards of what’s a done product increment, …Not thinking how to delivery slices of value, forcing development teams to deliver components, instead of ready-to-use product increments, …Not facilitating a sprint reviewNot participating in any retrospectiveNot updating any forecast after finishing a sprintNot engaging with end-users / customers to get feedback etc2 What is the process to get a CSPO certificate?You can also follow the below steps to understand clearly.Find a Certified Scrum Product Owner course on the Scrum Alliance websiteRead and understand the Scrum GuideRead and understand the manifesto for agile software developmentRead and understand the learning objectives of a CSPO courseAttend the 2-day CSPO courseComplete the online CSPO exam, the fee is included in the course price. After completing the course, your Scrum Trainer will upload your user information into the system of Scrum Alliance, next you’ll receive an invite to do the online exam. Recommended books and material to read and further prepare:Articles by Roman Pichler,Book Product Mastery, by Geoff Watts,  Path forward after CSPO at Scrum AllianceCertification gives you access to a renewable, two-year membership with Scrum Alliance. As a Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO™), you can continue your educational development to become an:Advanced Certified Scrum Product Owner (A-CSPO™)Certified Scrum Professional - Product Owner (CSP-PO™)Certified Team Coach (CTC™)Certified Enterprise Coach (CEC™) Certified Scrum Trainer (CST™)Remember, if you’re starting as Product Owner, the CSPO certification is only the start of your journey!ConclusionBeing a product owner is a satisfying job! You are the main spokesperson for the product. You act as a catalyst between the Development Team and the outside world. You take decisions to maximise product value while taking into account various constraints.
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Who Is a CSPO? - Roles and Responsibilities

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