Sometimes people ask me which service management process they should implement first, or which process is the most important. They probably expect me to give the typical consultant’s answer of "it depends", but I don’t because there is one clear and obvious answer. Every IT organization that wants to implement service management should start with continual service improvement (CSI). (Yes, CSI doesn't always mean Crime Scene Investigation!)
I’ve never come across an IT organization that does nothing at all to manage their IT services. They all manage incidents, changes and releases, and they all monitor the infrastructure and design new solutions to meet business needs. I have carried out ITSM assessments for organizations that insist they have no capacity management or availability management, and discovered that technical staff are actually doing most of the required work, they just haven’t formalized the process and they don’t measure and report what they are doing.
What do you think would happen if you attempt to “implement” a process such as problem management or availability management without first really understanding what work is currently being done, what outputs it is creating, how effective it is, and what resources it is using? The most likely outcome is that you would design a process that conflicts with existing activities, that people won’t accept the new process, and that the overall effect will be to reduce service quality rather than improve it.
Many people think that implementing continual service improvement involves lots 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:
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 prioritised and that the ones you decide to implement are managed to completion.
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.
I worked with one organization that implemented CSI and some years later the parent company asked outsourcing companies for proposals to take over from their in-house IT. After they had selected a preferred bidder, the chosen outsourcer reviewed the existing IT organization and withdrew, because they couldn’t improve on the efficiencies that were already being achieved.
If you want to be a world-class IT organization then start implementing CSI now, you will reap the benefits for many years to come.