Continual Service Improvement

1Introduction 2Serv. Mgmt. 3Principles 4Process 5Methods 6Organization 7Consideration 8Implementation 9Issues AAppendeces

4. Continual Service Management Processes



The business needs to be involved with CSI in decision making on what improvement initiatives make sense and add the greatest value back to the business. There are some key questions that will assist the business in making decisions about whether a CSI initiative is warranted or not.

The following questions are often asked from a business and IT perspective. Not understanding some of these questions can lead to challenges, perceived poor service or in some cases actual poor service:

Before starting, it is important to remember that CSI activities cannot take place for a service that does not exist yet; the service has to be operational to identify improvement opportunities. However, don't overlook the fact that CSI can be actively engaged in identifying improvement opportunities on the elements that were involved in building or modifying a service. CSI activities can be executed within Service Strategy, Service Design, Service Transition as well as Service Operation.

Where are we now?
A baseline must be established for all future measurements to be meaningful. Measurements may often reflect a single snapshot or a point in time but analyzing these snapshots over time will give us the trends we need to identify areas of improvement. The first snapshot is the baseline, the starting point. It is essential that the same measurements be used consistently to establish trend patterns.

What do we want?
This question provides the best answers when the business and IT work in partnership to identify what the business wants from IT services. The compiled list can be akin to a wish-list of all the nice things that the business would love to have. Here are a few samples:

It is important to also identify the reasons behind what the business wants. These reasons must be valid and failure to address them may result in difficult times ahead for the business. Here are a few sample valid reasons:

This question will require a few iterations to complete. It is important to identify long- and short-term goals and objectives for the business as a whole as well as for each major business units. Table 4.16 maps the goals and objectives and the reasons for the 'want' to help ease the process.
DepartmentWe want ...To support our goal or objective of .The reason is to address ...
SalesImproved availability for web servicesImprove web servicevavailability by 25%Lost sales opportunities

Increased competition

Cost of working incidents and problems

MarketingImproved availability for web servicesImprove use of web for marketing initiatives by 40%Reach a larger potential customer base

Gain knowledge of customer perception of our business

Current web marketing surveys are always breaking down

Department N<...>Goal
Table 4.16 Mapping wants, goals and reasons

What do we need?
This question is similar to the 'what do we want' question and is actually a fine-tuning activity of the outputs identified in Table 4.16. The first step is for the business and CSI to prioritize the 'wants'. This exercise can be emotionally charged as people might be reluctant to let go of any 'wants'. Deciding on the priority must be based on rational, well-defined criteria. That is why goals and objectives are also identified - to give the business the opportunity to really address the most important goals and objectives based on the vision and mission of the organization and of the departments.

It is therefore important to start at the top and understand the priorities of the organization's senior executives (CEO, CFO, COO, CIO etc.). Once they have established the priorities in terms of goals and objectives for the long and short term, their subordinates will, in turn, prioritize their goals and objectives based on that list.

A recommendation is to ensure that a detailed analysis of services has been conducted and that the business and IT clearly understand what the mission-critical services are. This doesn't mean that only mission-critical services are reviewed as a part of CSI, but we don't want to lose focus on these. Incident Management, Problem Management and Change Management talk about assessing the impact on the business and the urgency to get it done when determining the priority. CSI should be no different and should use a similar rating scheme albeit with different parameters.

There are many factors that can go into choosing what improvement projects to work on in what order. Below are some of the driving factors.

Policies must be established for such cases to determine the answers to such questions as:

What can we afford?
Most business and IT organizations have a budget they need to work within. If an organization is working from a zero-based budget, i.e. every project has to go through a review for ROI or other standards to obtain funding, there are still questions that have to be answered. So a part of the determining what improvement projects to work on first will have to do with the cost of the improvement project. Is the business going to fund the improvement or is IT going to fund the improvement? From a service management perspective, it is imperative that Service Level Management and Financial Management work together to understand the ability to fund from IT or work with the business to define what the priority is for funding of improvement projects.

What will we get?
It is important that CSI ensures that IT works with the business to clearly define what the requirements and output are of any improvement project. It doesn't do any good for IT to guess what the business needs. This leads to perception problems for both the business and IT.

What did we get?
Service Operation will do the actual monitoring and reporting on the achieved service levels. Based on the results and any gaps to the desired results, CSI working with the business will identify improvement opportunities.

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