How applicable is Agile to service operations? This is a question that we get asked a lot and about time we addressed it. Firstly, here, by considering overlapping principles between Agile and what we believe at ActiveOps. Then another piece will cover why we think leaders are looking to introduce Agile in service operations and how it can be done without making everything more fragile.
The discipline of Agile was generated as an approach to software development and has been credited with dramatically improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the process. There is no doubt it has caught the management imagination and the method is now being applied to projects other than software development, and is increasingly being seen as a philosophy for management more widely.
So, as fans of a good method, what do we at ActiveOps think about Agile? What do we see with service operations best practice? Will it help to transform the kinds of service operations that we like to work with? In short, our answer is this: Agile is great. We use it ourselves to build Workware and if that is the banner under which you want to optimise the performance of your operation then it is a sound place to start. The values of self-organising teams, emphasising adaptability over long-range planning, and pulling work on a “just in time” basis are all positives.
If Service Operations are going to make the best of Agile principles, they will have to adopt and adapt – not just copy blindly. Software developers have adapted the language of Kanban from Toyota car manufacturing principles and applied it to project management, and so Service Operations will have to make further adaptations– which will have to be made in a way that shows a fundamental understanding of the principles of service operations..