By Chris Gordon, ITSM Managing Consultant, Logicalis US

This is another installment in a series of blogs that gives IT leaders a better understanding into the realm of possibilities enabled by an effective IT Service Management (ITSM) strategy. Each of these blogs offers ITSM best practices that can help you innovate and improve your IT processes and strategies so they align to the needs of the business.

The true value found inside an organization that provides a service to customers is in how effectively and how efficiently the organization functions in order to deliver the highest quality of service possible. The needs of the customer are never static—they change and shift over time.

This means the service provider must recognize or even anticipate where improvement is needed. The practice of Continual Service Improvement (CSI) within an IT Service Management (ITSM) organization thus becomes critical when demonstrating that services are relevant and provide value.

The expectations for CSI should include examining the overall maturity and effectiveness of a process area—and then identifying key controls or efficiencies to simplify or add stability that improves the maturity levels. Two of the most heavily-referenced continuous improvement cycles that best apply for ITSM include Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) and Define-Measure-Analyze-Improve-Control (DMAIC), both of which you can do a quick search on Wikipedia to learn more.

My recommendation is to also direct attention to the three areas outlined below—you won’t find them in any best-practices books, but they play key roles in ensuring CSI success:

  • Bring Your Enthusiasm: Establishing a CSI practice within IT goes back to how well you define and measure a process area, deliver a service, and perform an important function. Improving on something that is not accurately measured becomes an exercise of skepticism or guess work, which in my humble opinion is not what professionals in our industry should endorse or lead by example. However, if your organization has an experienced or knowledge-filled ITSM evangelist, then setting up a practice area for CSI should be a worthy and fun exercise. In fact, I highly encourage including enthusiasm, optimism and confidence as the main ingredients when leading the practice area for Continual Service Improvement.
  • Create a Checklist of Quick Wins: Long term, improving a process area can take months without any noticeable or tangible results. This can be alleviated by speaking to the functional teams who can help identify mundane, repetitive tasks or inefficiencies that slow down the assembly line. I recommend creating a checklist of quick-win improvements that provide tangible results to the service desk or operational teams and will make their day-to-day jobs that much more tolerable. These can be simple things like designing a template that can be reused again and again, creating an automatic notification that provides additional communication for what was once a manual task, or even implementing a workflow that automatically updates a request or moves the status forward. Although these seem like trivial improvements that only affect a few analysts, the gesture is appreciated, and when many small efficiencies are in place, they can provide dramatic results in helping the staff work smarter.
  • Go Agile: The preferred methodology used by development teams for quickly delivering new features and functionality to the business is called Agile. Essentially, the Agile process involves a backlog of things that development team prioritize and rank to determine what can be ideally delivered in a short cycle of two to four weeks, called a Sprint. Developers crank out a deliverable at the end of the Sprint that provides immediate value to the customer. I recommend using the same Agile approach for attacking a list of quick wins in Continual Service Improvement. Each month, the CSI team can share all the short-term and long-term successes they achieve.

From efforts like these that are made in relation to CSI, the feeling of shared enthusiasm and optimism can go viral. They are also the key attributes found in thought leaders. Yet another unexpected benefit from CSI are the cultural affects it has on individuals who take the initiative and break down the barriers to collaborate—with a common shared goal to continuously improve that can permeate throughout your organization.

For more information on ITSM strategies and best practices, contact Chris Gordon at Chris.Gordon@us.logicalis.com.

To view of all of Chris Gordon’s ITSM blogs published to date, visit https://logicalisinsights.com/categories/chris-gordon/