How does agile service design work?

A question that many organizations have to deal with is: How do my services fit into an agile environment and how can I integrate my existing service management into agile environments? ITIL 4 has already shown some ways by aligning the terminology of ITIL and various agile methodologies. But how exactly do I operate an agile service design?

The four crucial questions

Basically, service design is about developing services that add value for the customer while being fit for purpose and use. Of course, it is important that a service functions end-to-end and is therefore complete.

Traditionally, this involves questions such as:

  • How high must the availability be?
  • How fast does the recovery capability need to be?
  • When can be maintenance windows?
  • How can we minimize data loss?

These questions are still very important, of course, and have a critical impact on the details of a service, but they should no longer be the focus of the design. Better would be questions like the following:

  • What is the organization trying to accomplish?
  • What are the important business activities?
  • What impact does a service outage have on business?
  • What impact does data loss have on the organization?

If we now look at Agile more closely, then at its core it is about being able to react quickly to change.

In concrete terms, this means that service design in particular needs to be rethought. Continuous analyses, needs assessments and long development times as well as little customer interaction represent major risks for modern design. The focus must therefore be more on what the customer actually needs, what solves his problems, and less on what the "perfect solution" would be.

With Design Thinking to Agile Service Management

Here in particular, one can make good use of the agile environment. One method for agile, customer-oriented service design can be design thinking. Design thinking is described as a human-centered approach to product or service development and helps us in particular to answer the four questions mentioned above. The method can also be found in the ITIL 4 literature.

With the help of this method, the actual problem of the customer can be identified and addressed. It helps to understand the core of a service and then develop it within the framework of a prototype. Developing the prototype is something that is done in short iterations with a lot of customer feedback. Once a prototype is agreed upon, it represents the core of the new service. Now the next step is to make this prototype ready for operation, to "design" it. This means that the first four questions must now be answered and the necessary technical foundations laid.

Service design as a construction kit

If service management and the agile mindset are followed here as well, the new service is now assembled from the various products required for it. At best, these products are already built up in advance to such an extent that the service design team can make use of the construction kit of products and thus also develop the service from the prototype to the finished, operational service in a short time. By assembling the services from the various products of an organization, whether provided internally or purchased externally, it is now possible to respond to changing requirements in the shortest possible time by adapting only a few of the products used. These products can then be managed by small, cross-functional teams within the IT organization.

If this idea has piqued your interest, you will find further content on design thinking on our website, such as a workshop that transfers the use of design thinking to process development. Arrange a consultation appointment or give us a call.


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