Better Together: Optimizing ITSM Investments with Value Stream Management
December 06, 2018

Bob Davis
Plutora

Most enterprises supporting critical software releases tend to understand the importance of setting up a strong release management function. Without this, software releases present both unmanageable risks and complexity. While several software tools have been developed to address these risks, many organizations are selecting tools to manage the release process without considering how they tie into IT service management (ITSM).

The general consensus tends to be that in the world of agile and DevOps, ITSM teams are increasingly being left behind. But the truth is, in more forward-thinking IT organizations, this isn’t the case. ITSM can continue to play an effective role in coordinating and automating production releases. They can play this role once they are integrated with the tools whose focus is on managing the value stream from an idea to the end goal of providing increased production and value.

The fact is that ITSM is playing, or at least should play, a growing role in support of agile and DevOps initiatives. But this role still remains limited due to the fact that DevOps teams, and their management, are (more often than not) leaving them out as a tool of choice and not considering them a point of integration. The goal should be to integrate ITSM into the bigger release management picture under the backing of a more complete system for planning, managing, and governing agile and DevOps activities.

Ensure Integrity of Production Environments

ITSM tools have a proven track record of helping IT Operations ensure the integrity of production environments. Enterprises have matured the processes that unify team members in accomplishing that goal. ITSM tools provide a system that adds rigor around the change process and helps support applications after they go live.

Integrating effective release management will dramatically improve the lives of the operations team by making planning and engineering processes visible. By unifying release tracking, organizations will be able to work together more efficiently by automatically coordinating work items, notifying stakeholders, tracking work items across the entire enterprise portfolio and enabling the use of operation’s matured workflows for both traditional and continuous delivery development processes.

Compare and Contrast

Value stream management (VSM) software offers the critical capability of providing visibility, coordination and collaboration across the entire software delivery pipeline. This view from idea to value insures that application delivery is coordinated across development and operations – giving you true DevOps.

On the other hand, ITSM solutions currently lack the ability to deliver visibility all the way through to the idea phase.

VSM solutions offer visibility across all of the sources needed to assimilate into a common project model. This increased visibility provides the ability for improved communication between groups, and added flexibility, so businesses can adjust organizational structures quickly to respond to timing needs for tasks as they arise.

Even the best ITSM solutions around won’t address all of the intricacies of release management, given that its roots remain in defending the production environment. These solutions are good at incident and change management, but solely depending on ITSM for what is needed in release management is akin to going back to the Dark Ages.

Bringing it All Together

There is no single answer for how to go about an effective DevOps/release management initiative. Rather, IT organizations vary in culture, toolsets, processes and needs. Unifying these extensive options with VSM is key.

No matter how high-powered the ITSM platform of choice may be, there will be a critical need to reach beyond it in coordinating processes, toolsets, and stakeholders across the full enterprise toolchain from idea to value.

However, this shouldn’t imply that the role of ITSM in DevOps should be downplayed, or even that it shouldn’t be expected to grow and evolve, making ITSM a more effective form of communication and automation is greatly beneficial. However, most enterprises will still need a larger array of integration, coordination, and governance for release management initiatives.

As the growth of fast-tracked applications continues to rise, this will become even more so the case, and will result in different teams frequently using a growing array of differing tool sets. Given these trends, quality VSM software will shine in its advantages in unifying IT for the full array of release management tasks. With its ability to be both a complement to ITSM, and as a way of optimizing the value of the ITSM platform within the bigger DevOps picture, these advantages will only continue to be magnified.

Bob Davis is CMO at Plutora
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