Visible Ops & Agile Service Management

I highly recommend The Visible Ops Handbook by Gene Kim, Kevin Behr and George Spafford.

There are a lot of intersections between Visible Ops (VisOps) and being Agile.  In fact, following Visible Ops practices allows you to achieve an Agile perspective in a shorter time scale. 

There is an area in particular where I think alignment between VisOps and Agile is very strong. One of the four tenets of the Agile Manifesto is that we value “Responding to change”.  This is further underpinned by the principle “Welcome changing requirements, even late in development”.   Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage.   This also ties us to the goal and objective of Agile Service Management in “Improving IT’s entire ability to meet customer requirements faster”.

Responding to change does not equate to bypassing process or controls.  Every business decision triggers an IT event.  Industry statistics tell us that 80% of outages are a direct results from poorly planned, unauthorized, undocumented or poorly executed changes that had limited risk assessment and no back out plans.  Consistent responsiveness requires processes that are designed to be agile and adaptive.

High performing IT organizations have incorporated elements from both this methodology and framework. As an example, Agile processes are designed with “just enough” structure and controls.  Visible Ops states CAB meetings should be restricted to evaluating and approving RFCs.  The goal is to keep change management meetings focused on management of change.  The CAB function is to identify which changes are risky, not come up with the solution for risk reduction. CAB meetings should be completed within 15 minutes.  Very Agile/Scrum like, no?

In high performing IT organizations, change management is not seen as burdensome, bureaucratic and a consumer of resources, time and money.  That’s because it is not.  It is well designed with “just enough” in place and ties success measures to business outcomes. Benefits such as increased availability, increased changed success rate, reduction of risk and reduction of MTTR comes often and early. This is due in part to creating a culture of change management through integrated processes, defined accountable and responsible roles and communication between all stakeholders.


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