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Continual Service Improvement – An Iterative Approach For Improving IT Services Through ITIL
Let me start by thanking everyone for the amazing response on my previous blog post on incident management last week. I am grateful for your comments and to our content expert who is always very supportive and helping. This week, I have chosen one of the stages of service lifecycle for my blog which is Continual Service Improvement (CSI).
What Is CSI?
It is the fifth stage of the IT service lifecycle and applied over the other four stages of service lifecycle (from service creation to service retirement). In this phase of the service lifecycle, we continuously look for opportunities to improve our IT services as it is an iterative process. CSI aligns IT services with varying business needs by locating and implementing improvements to IT services. Once we identify any opportunity for improvement, we add it in a CSI register, which is basically an opportunity record register where we can input various details. The parameters which refer to an improvement opportunity are:
- - Opportunity Number
- - Date Raised
- - Size
- - Timescale
- - Description
- - Priority
- - KPI Metric
- - Justification
- - Raised by
- - To be actioned by
- - Date required by
It is not necessary to have details of all above parameters and you can ignore some of these if relevant data is unavailable. The CSI manager is responsible and accountable for maintaining the CSI register and keeping track of all this data.
The CSI approach is the next step in this phase which is based on six questions (they can also be considered as six steps). These six questions in order are as follows:
- 1. What is the vision? (your business goals and objectives)
- 2. Where are we now? (your present baseline)
- 3. Where do we want to be? (your goals or targets)
- 4. How do we get there? (service/process improvement)
- 5. Did we get there? (measure your success or failure)
- 6. How do we keep the momentum going? (feedback to start a new cycle of the same above questions with a new baseline)
As it is an iterative process (non-stop), the Deming Cycle approach fits here, which is based on the following four steps:
Its sole purpose is continuous quality control. Plan refers to incorporating things which may result in improvement(s).
Once the plan is in place, you can then apply (Do) it.
In the third step, which is Check, you need to verify if the outcome reflects any improvements as per expectations (or otherwise).
Finally, when you are satisfied (or unsatisfied) with the results, you choose to Act by either accepting the results or rejecting it (depending on outcome).
So, let’s take a real-world example to understand CSI. Let’s suppose a company is running a call center to support its IT customers. This company, on average, facilitates approximately 100 customers per day by taking their calls and helping them in resolving their IT related queries. The company decides to add value to its service and increase the average number of customer calls (for facilitation) from 100 to 200. Now this is the first step where they made a decision based on a vision. Let’s quickly answer the six questions of the CSI approach to establish a plan of action.
1. What Is The Vision?
The vision is to improve productivity by 100% in order to add value to the service. This means the daily calls have to go from 100 to 200.
2. Where Are We Now?
The next step would be to identify the current baseline, and the answer is 100 customers per day.
3. Where Do We Want To Be?
The goal is to facilitate 200 customers per day, so the baseline has to go from 100 to 200.
4. How Do We Get There?
The fourth step is the most challenging one as it may look like a simple question on paper, but everything depends on the answer to this question. In this case, let’s suppose the company feels that by adding a few more technicians in its current work force or by increasing the business hours, they may be able to achieve this target. So, let’s hire a few more people or extend the business hours (or both). This step is not just about creating a strategy but also executing on it within a set deadline.
5. Did We Get There?
In the fifth step, the company needs to measure its output. Let’s say, they realized that after doing the fourth step, now they are able to serve 150 customers per day and the target of 200 is not yet achieved. This shows improvement in productivity but not by the margin they set out to achieve. And this leads us to the sixth and final step.
6. How Do We Keep The Momentum Going?
The sixth step, which is a feedback step, advises the company that it is on the right track of achieving its objectives. This CSI approach should be continued by going back to the first step. In this case, the company’s new baseline will be 150 (not 100) as they have already improved their service in the first cycle. However, it may not necessarily be the same case all the time, there may be little to no improvement in the baseline, and there may even be a decline in it. In that case, they still need to move to step one, however, they may want to reconsider their strategies and goals in the next cycle.
I hope this example clarified the concept of CSI. The sole purpose of CSI is to align your IT services with varying business needs, which is possible by identifying and then implementing the required improvements.
In my next blog post, I will be discussing another ITIL specific topic. I am also planning a blog post on how to become an IT expert. I hope you will continue to read my blogs and won’t hesitate to share your response/feedback with me. Please do visit our community portal for all the resources, blogs, and discussions. Happy New Year and see you guys next time.