3 Ways Jira Service Management is Making ITSM More Agile

Header image showing two laptops and a curvy arrow representing agile methods

Jira began as an agile project management platform for software development teams. In 2013, Atlassian set their sights on IT operations teams, specifically IT service management, by releasing Jira Service Desk. In 2020, a new, improved version launched: Jira Service Management.

Now, being in the same wheelhouse, you’d think that software development and IT operations would play nice together. The reality is that although their goal is the same – trying to make technology work for the customer – the way they work towards it is very different. Devs make the technology using agile practices. Ops maintain the technology using the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) of best practices.

Technically, Jira Service Management (JSM) is both an IT service management (ITSM) tool AND an agile tool. So how is JSM managing to harmonize the two disciplines?

Jira Service Management goes beyond IT service management

Dev teams and IT ops teams have traditionally been siloed from one another because the frameworks they follow are not just practically different but culturally different. Devs desire continuous change while ops demand infrastructural stability and reliability. It’s the reason a whole philosophy and set of practices have grown up around uniting them: DevOps. DevOps is about getting dev and ops working more closely together, through a process of practical and cultural change.

So, by saying Jira Service Management is both an ITSM tool and an agile tool, what we’re actually saying is, it’s a DevOps tool.

What does this mean in practice? It means that all the core processes of ITSM that IT operations teams are used to are there. Specifically, the four main ones from ITIL: request, incident, problem, and change management. But it also means that JSM has features designed to facilitate the core ideals of agile: moving fast, working in small batches, automating where possible, focusing on delivering value, and improving continuously.

As it happens, ITIL is now going the same way. The guidance was revamped in 2019 to be more flexible, customizable, and, well, agile. ITIL v4 reads like a love letter to the Agile Manifesto and it’s because the ITIL architects have realized the benefits of infusing agile delivery into IT services.

For example, in the past IT services teams faced with a big implementation project would typically default to the waterfall method, i.e. get the entire system, with all its bells and whistles, up and running all at once. Agile, however, promotes implementation in much smaller stages, so that customers can start using the core functionality of a system quicker.

Technically, by being an agile tool that’s also ITIL-certified, JSM was already doing what ITIL v4 is now promoting.

Now, let’s look at 3 ways JSM is incorporating agile delivery into ITSM processes and, by extension, how it’s improving speed and efficiency to offer better customer satisfaction.

1. Incident and change management, DevOps-style

All Jira Service Management Cloud plans come with Opsgenie for incident management. This provides on-call scheduling, alerting, and incident swarming so that critical IT issues are never missed. ITSM teams can take action more quickly with intelligent categorization of tickets and bulk ticket actions. They can also make smarter decisions about changes to services with automated change risk assessments, advanced approval workflows, and integrations with continuous integration/delivery (CI/CD) tools like Bitbucket Pipelines, Jenkins, and CircleCI.

2. Improved ITSM reporting

Now that more people are working remotely, outages and technical issues have a much bigger impact. Understanding how quickly and successfully your ITSM teams are dealing with these incidents is essential for improving resolution times. Four key metrics to look at are mean time to resolve, respond, repair, or recovery, collectively known as MTTR. Jira Service Management reports allow you to measure MTTR and other key ITSM metrics like service-level agreements (SLAs), customer satisfaction, and uptime.

The reports that come out of the box with JSM are much more powerful and insightful than those offered with many typical ITSM platforms. You can, for example, create a detailed and highly visual JSM reporting dashboard to track your SLA performance, created versus resolved issues, how many tickets you have open, etc.

Our Atlassian app, Custom Charts for Jira, offers even more options for JSM dashboard reporting. These include funnel charts that show which organizations are submitting the most tickets; stacked bar charts that show the priority of those tickets per organization; stacked bar charts showing SLAs met versus breached; and all kinds of charts for tracking customer satisfaction. You can also share Custom Charts dashboards with customers in the JSM portal, so that instead of a list, customers get real insights into their tickets.

It’s quicker and easier to create a JSM dashboard with Custom Charts, too. For example, in native JSM, you can generate custom reports to track key ITSM metrics, but you can’t make them directly on the dashboard across all projects. Rather, you have to generate each one on a per-project basis, then pull them over using the Service Project Gadget. None of this is necessary in Custom Charts; you simply build all your ITSM reports directly in the Custom Charts gadget on the dashboard.

3. Better cross-team collaboration

Many service disruptions are the result of things that IT support teams can’t handle on their own. For example, if a software bug is responsible for an outage, the ITSM team needs to communicate with the dev team to get the system working again.

The good thing about Jira Service Management is that it’s a spin-off of Jira Software, and Jira Software is what the dev team are using to track bugs. By default, JSM connects with Jira Software and other Atlassian tools, like Bitbucket and Confluence, to enable the kind of open team collaboration and exchange of information that DevOps is all about. Quickly tailoring the permissions can make it possible for ITSM teams and software teams to view, comment on, and receive notifications about support tickets and software projects.

Conclusion

Although ITIL-certified, Jira Service Management has features that go beyond ITIL and bring some of the hallmarks of agile working and delivery into the ITSM space. These features are set up to enable IT operations teams to adopt a more agile mindset when dealing with incidents, problems, and changes. And agility in ITSM is not only good for internal efficiency; it’s good for your customers. It means that requests and outages can be resolved more quickly, and big, daunting implementations don’t have to be big or daunting.

Christopher is a self-confessed nerd who’d probably take the cake on Mastermind if Star Trek: Voyager was his specialist subject. He writes fiction about time travel, conspiracies and aliens; loves roller coasters, hiking and Christmas; and hates carpet, rom-coms and anything with chilli in it. He’s written extensively for technology companies and Atlassian partners and specializes in translating complicated technical concepts, specs and jargon into readable, benefits-driven copy that casual readers will understand.