Every IT Service Management professional has probably heard about The Manifesto for Agile Software Development. I find the basic concept of it very much applicable with the BYOD challenge: a flood of employee-owned mobile devices in your organization, and poor you trying to cope with the chaos. (Note. You don’t have to be a software developer to get some ideas from the Agile Manifesto.)
This setting is familiar: Standardized Device Policy versus Bring Your Own Device Policy. The old way of doing collides with the wild way of doing. Enablement versus security is one of the major concerns that we in IT share, and we must learn to balance between these two aspects. Enablement and security, both super important issues, must be managed side-by-side.
If not yet familiar, these are the key principles of the Agile Manifesto:
- Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
- Working software over comprehensive documentation
- Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
- Responding to change over following a plan
“That is, while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more”, the manifesto states further. That is a pretty good description of the personal infrastructure transformation – how BYOD is affecting the work in the IT departments.
I will quickly run through and comment these four aspects of agile from IT, BYOD, and support perspectives.
1. Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
The first principle is BYOD in a nutshell. You need to find the ways for individuals to use the tools they are most efficient with. In addition, you need to work at the schedule determined by the individual: interact when and how it fits the user.
A process and supporting tools are a must, of course. But when it comes to IT Service Management activities related to the BYOD challenge, we at IT can profit from taking the individuals and their way of using the various smart devices into consideration.
Ask yourself for example:
- What are the new kinds of business interactions that must be supported?
- What are the employee roles and devices that we at IT must match?
- What software and tools IT needs for enabling the new kind of support and interactions, and for ensuring the security?
- What does all this mean device-wise?
In addition, the new end-user requirements may give you valuable ideas that can be used for innovation within your IT department and the entire organization. Take that innovator role if it is at your reach.
I also recommend that you check out Apollo 13 business-simulator-game-founder Paul Wilkinson’s excellent ABC of ICT (ABC stands for Attitude, Behavior & Culture). This trio helps IT professionals to better cope with the change, diversity, and…the people.
2. Working software over comprehensive documentation
The second principle of agile – this is where Mobile Device Management tool fits in. It doesn’t make sense to force your engineers to document BYOD in a shared Microsoft Excel or SharePoint. You need working software to find out the current situation instead of using outdated inventory sheets of assets you don’t even own!
In the BYOD context, we could also take advantage of this sentence of agile manifesto in the situation where we are composing the BYOD Policy for the first time. Of course, a policy is needed, but when your company is starting its BYOD life, it would be wise to take small steps, accepting trial and error as well.
A complete BYOD Policy does not emerge magically as a simple desk exercise. To be truly useful and applicable, it needs much iteration and tons of feedback. Most importantly, be open in your communication, try and learn, and only then create the first version of your organizations BYOD policy. And keep on tuning it.
3. Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
This is the very core in BYOD. The requirements are those set by the most time-pressed high-output individuals in your company. They will most probably not collaborate on your “byod-stategy-word-document-in-100-pages”. They reveal what they need as they go.
I’ve always felt a bit uncomfortable with the age-old tendency of IT organizations: the passion for ‘guessing-what-people-need’ and ‘standardize to death’. Don’t get me wrong though, standardization is not entirely a bad thing. Standardization can be required both in terms of what services we make available to your organization and also how we apply use cases, and learn from those. Sadly, it is not uncommon that IT departments waste months trying to solve complicated problems within the IT silo without simply testing and finding out what would work best. Leave your cubicle and meet the guys on the factory floor. When some genuine customer collaboration is included in the process, you have a chance to cope with today’s complex business environment.
Summarized, move away from systemizing all possible conditions and start utilizing unique human skills of pattern recognition and response. The best alternative is to find a model combining these two spheres.
4. Responding to change over following a plan
In a predictable environment you know what devices are relevant, as you have planned it yourself. With BYOD, it’s vital to track ahead what is happening. In a global organization you need to be doubly aware of what is going on, for example, make sure that early indicators are properly tracked with mobile device management so that you can rapidly respond to them.
When a strict ‘IT asset plan’ is the law that the end-users are right away wildly breaking with their BYOD solo performances, it can cause not just frustrating disorder for IT, but also deep customer dissatisfaction. Many of us have heard of panic situations where (perhaps the newly appointed) CIO looks at the organization, its plans and objectives against the present status, and solves it with a lazy quick and dirty decision: Please outsource this chaos right now.
We all know that that is not working for BYOD. So it’s indeed time to include BYOD in your IT plans. One remedy for this is a good Mobile Device Management (MDM) tool. (Disclaimer: I am a CEO of a company developing modern MDM tools. If you like check out Miradore’s free of charge tool set.)
Towards flexibility, learning and business innovations
The good old process view of things, our passion for frameworks (ITIL , CobIT and such), has led to many drawbacks in our swiftly transforming business environment. Agile approach, DevOps and many other models and methods are now available for us, and helping us in many ways. Aligning your BYOD program with agile makes sense. It becomes a part of a larger whole and becomes instantly recognizable as a part of something the management has already committed to.
‘Bring your own devices’ as well as ‘Buying services in the cloud’ can both be beneficial for your organization – and might help in finding a new competitive edge and business innovations. It is your choice if you choose to fully utilize and support this opportunity, or continue to see BYOD only as a major source of trouble.
There are many of us who feel that agile is going to take over IT – BYOD, SaaS and cloud computing are only the first incarnations of agile in IT.