Managing Software Maintenance with ITIL and Agile

Professor Miguel Mira da Silva of INOV and his PhD student, Carlos Mendes, joined us for the second of our morning sessions. INOV is an OutSystems partner and a non-for-profit innovation institute focused on IT, networks and electronics. INOV includes an IT Governance group and a Software Development group that delivers custom web business applications based on OutSystems methodology and technology.

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They presented their research on managing software maintenance with ITIL and Agile. First, Miguel talked about how, we in IT, tend to focus on just one of the three aspects of Information Systems – technology – but we forget to manage organizations and people that need to be managed. So, he challenged the audience to consider all three aspects: technology, organizations and management. Miguel asserted that Management is what can really make the difference to success – because people, and the technology they use, are relatively difficult to change.

Since maintenance represents 60-80% of software cost – this is what they decide to focus their research on, but (especially in relation to Agile,) we must remember that maintenance has no scope, no budget and no fixed time frame.

THE RESEARCH QUESTION:  Miguel asked his research team (represented at NextStep by Carlos): while they know how successful they can be using OutSystems for systems development and management, they wanted to know how we could better manage the maintenance of OutSystems-built systems?

In broad terms, they found the answer to be to use the same method for managing an overall company (which are also Organizations + Technology + Management) to manage maintenance – and so they looked to ITIL first and made the assumption that Agile was not appropriate for maintenance (an assumption they worked to dis-prove in their research.)

Carlos explained that since ITIL is a set of concepts and practices for managing IT services, and that maintenance is a service – ITIL can be used to manage software maintenance. These concepts have been implemented in their Service Manager – a prototype application – which includes a service catalog for managing service lifecycles, Service Level Management to manage SLAs and indicators, and a Request Fulfillment component for managing the request lifecycle.

Service Manager has been piloted in several local Portuguese organizations including PrimeDrinks and Turismo de Portugal – and have achieved success in their pilots.  Hugo Sousa, CIO of Turismo de Portugal was very happy with the results, saying “With INOV we did in 4 months what others in 8 months couldn’t. It’s not about *ology. It’s about the right orchestration. Always remember that a fool with a tool is always a fool.”

FINDINGS: When it comes to maximizing the performance and predictability of the maintenance management process, the team concluded that Agile could be used for maintenance, but important differences need to be taken into account: that while development projects have scope, budget and time frames – maintenance does not. Miguel summarizes that their research and pilots have shown that while you should use Agile for development (and not maintenance) and ITIL for maintenance (and not development) – they can be combined into a single integrated management framework.

Miguel closed by offering to the audience that their work is openly available, and while they are an OutSystems Partner, their research results are available to anyone.

About the author

Michel Ozzello

Although he's been working in Marketing for the past decade or so, Michel is still a geeky Software Engineer at heart. He tries to fit technology in every bit of marketing activity he does - from SEO to websites and digital advertising.


Miguel Baltazar

Is there a place online where we can see these findings?

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