LibTechConf 2014: Agile Project Management and ITIL for Libraries

Presented by Andrew McAlorum

As a whole, libraries do a bad job of managing IT projects and services. Agile and ITIL are two sets of frameworks or methodologies that can help with that.

Some Context

Strong Science, Math, Computer, Engineering areas and strong set of co-op students.


Old Way = Waterfall method: Requirements, design, implementation, verfication, maintenance. Doesn’t work, too rigid, technology changes too fast.

Agile Manifesto

  • individuals and interactions (vs. processes or tools), working software (vs. comprehensive documentation)
  • customer collaboration (vs. contract negotiation)
  • responding to change (vs. following a plan)

Constantly iterating, continual improvement.

More of a philosophy.

In Practice

Many methodologies: one of most well known = SCRUM. Meet with client, get vision, brake everything down into workable units, move a small number (5-10) of tasks to complete during a sprint, ship product increment.

Still leave 30% of time for maintenance, and break fixes.

Team based approach.

Keep meetings focus: What did you work on yesterday? What are you working on today? What is stopping you from getting that done?

Get feedback which informs the next release.

Project Management Tool

Very important to help get it done. Had requirements which not only do issue tracking, but also spring planning and management with time estimates and story points, analysis and reporting.


  • fulfilled functionality requirement
  • project-based
  • customizable workflows
  • lots of add-ons available
  • code integration
  • scrum philosophy baked-in
  • cheap if 10 user license (expensive if more)

Visual e.g. health bar

Sprints in 2 weeks with planning and review every two weeks under 90 minutes, daily for 10 minutes, one scrum board for all projects, keep simple and clean.

No one is good at estimating time, and need discipline in not adding tasks to the spring. Ideally, your remaining tasks go down in steps, and time spent goes up smoothly.

Need a project charter to create consensus, have technology plan. Better if everyone knows where they’re going.


Set of best practices for IT service management. Things were so broken, needed to re-evaluate and come up with a standard.

5 major area: Strategy, design, transition, operation, CSI.

IT Best Practices Project lead by central IT.

Request Tracker

  • moved to RT to manage user requests
  • took some time to convince staff because needed to change communication practices of contacting a specific person
  • staff now really like it because they get updated on issue and see get done
  • other departments asking for it e.g. e-resources, facilities
  • external help desk (JIRA for internal development)

Knowledge Base

  • integrate and document
  • Service catalogue model
  • everything was buried and hidden, so created a list of services

Change Management

  • set up a group (IT governance board) to vet and approve projects: major and high risk changes
  • focus is on risk management

Need service level agreement (service provider and customer), and operational level agreements (between two department)


Need to follow a continual service improvement method is key. Doesn’t need to be perfect. Tight feedback loop between developers and users.

Author: Cynthia

Technologist, Librarian, Metadata and Technical Services expert, Educator, Mentor, Web Developer, UXer, Accessibility Advocate, Documentarian

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