January 9, 2015

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Continual Service Improvement ? The Need for IT Service Management

When an organization is thinking about implementing ITIL® processes, the first question that comes to mind is, “Where do we start?” Interestingly, it is always a good thing to commence with the Continual Service Improvement (CSI) route.

Organizations discuss it and ponder over it, but in reality often don’t plan for it, schedule it, allocate resources to it or monitor it. Improvement initiatives are often reactionary in nature to a specific event, and not proactive.

Implementing a CSI practice requires the management’s commitment and participation to move from a reactive to a proactive practice. Whether improving services, service management processes or the service lifecycle itself, there will be a cost to implementing a CSI practice; however, there is a much higher cost to not implementing it.

Organizations will spend big bucks and maybe even millions of dollars to develop and implement service management processes; yet, they don’t have any plan on how to continually improve their processes.

Many think that implementing continual service improvements involve a lot of bureaucracy and extra work, but it can actually be done as a very light-touch process, with lots of value and little additional work. Here are the key things that you need to do:

  • Create a continual improvement register. This can be as simple as an excel spreadsheet. It enables you to capture all the suggestions that people come up with so that you can compare the costs and benefits and pick the improvements that offer the best ROI. The continual improvement register also enables you to track the status of outstanding improvement actions, to ensure they make progress.
  • Review what reports you are creating. Make sure that these reports are useful to the people you deliver them to. Often you can save time and cost by eliminating reports that aren’t creating value, and this will also generate goodwill among technical staff who don’t like creating reports that nobody uses. Then you can define the new or updated reports you really need, to understand how well your processes, services and technology are working.
  • Make sure you are measuring the things that matter to you. Since you have already defined what reporting you need, it should be fairly easy to identify what needs to be measured.
  • Carry out regular assessments of your services, processes and technology. You could do this yourself or you could get external consultants to help you, but make sure the output includes benchmarks against industry norms and best practices that you can use to help identify improvement opportunities.

These simple steps will provide the framework you need to continually improve everything you do as an IT organization. By measuring and reporting the things that matter and carrying out regular assessments you will identify the improvements you need, and by managing your improvement register you will ensure that these improvements are correctly prioritized and that the ones you decide to implement are managed to completion.

The 7 Step Improvement Process:

The ’7-Step Continual Service Improvement’ process is a best practice for improving IT services. It follows the steps defined in the diagram below.

The 7 step improvement process is an integral process of CSI as this makes it possible for service resources and teams to identify and actually understand which processes and aspects of their operations are in need of major monitoring and enhancement.

It is really easy to start, and the benefits can be enormous. At first you may not notice the impact, but as CSI becomes embedded in your culture the IT organization will become more efficient, more effective and will deliver higher quality services to your customers.