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What Continual Service Improvement means in the ITIL lifecycle
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ITIL is a framework of best practices that support the delivery of quality IT services. ITIL provides a systematic approach to IT service management helping businesses manage and mitigate risk, improve customer relationships, create cost-effective practices, and stabilize the IT environment for better progress, scale and change.
Poor implementation of IT processes lead to a rift between traditional IT organizations and its leaders. However, there is no universal approach or one flawless solution to define and implement IT service management processes. Businesses need to evaluate business goals and budgets, resource constraints, and organizational culture to determine the right processes that are most practical to adopt.
ITIL guidelines and processes that suit the business needs facilitate a connection between business and technology. ITIL includes five basic publications with best practices for each part of the IT service lifecycle:
1. ITIL Service Strategy—outlines business goals and customer requirements
2. ITIL Service Design—transitioning strategies into action items to help the business
3. ITIL Service Transition—implementing services within the business environment
4. ITIL Service Operation—defines key processes connected to IT service management
5. ITIL Continual Service Improvement—helps ITIL users evaluate and bring in IT service improvements
Continual Service Improvement is the fifth and final stage in the ITIL life cycle. It helps to ascertain the improvement opportunities by keeping an eye on the many service applications and processes introduced during various stages of the ITIL lifecycle. Once the IT service is chosen, designed, built and maintained, Continual Service Improvement’s job is to support and develop the services and processes.
Continual Service Improvement (CSI) uses a metrics-driven methodology to identify opportunities for improvement and to measure the influence of improvement efforts. Although Continual Service Improvement is a phase of the lifecycle and is acknowledged in a separate ITIL publication, Continual Service Improvement can be operative only if it is assimilated throughout the lifecycle, building a culture of continual improvement. Continual Service Improvement should ensure that all partakers in service delivery comprehend that recognizing opportunities for improvement is their responsibility.
A significant mission for Continual Service Improvement is to identify which metrics, out of the thousands that are formed daily, should be supervised. This is done by identifying the critical success factors (CSFs) for each service or process. CSFs are imperative for a process or service to succeed. It is recommended that each process or service identify no more than three to five critical success factors (one or two in the early stages of a service or process).
To conclude whether critical success factors are present, it is important to identify key performance indicators (KPIs) that denote the degree to which the critical success factors are present. Each critical success factor has to be measured by no more than three to five KPIs (one or two in the early stages of a service or process). Although most KPIs are quantitative, it is important to consider qualitative KPIs, such as customer satisfaction, as well.
It is really important to know why an organization calls for a continual service improvement plan. The key reasons are:
It helps an organization discover efficient and cost effective ways to improve processes and services, so that IT can drive business value
It strengthens the bond between the clients and IT service providers
It develops the team’s interactive abilities, efficiency and effectiveness
It provides a better view of the management processes and services. It gives a chance to recognize an organization’s future expansion capabilities
Continual service improvement (CSI) focuses on improving the efficiency and cost effectiveness of the IT services that are delivered to clients. It measures and monitors the performance of the IT service provider. It helps to check if the IT services are aligned and re-aligned with the varying business needs by identifying and instigating ways for service improvement.
Continual service improvement plan encompasses a seven-step process that has activities occurring across multiple stages of the service lifecycle. It augments the business value and focuses on the complete effectiveness of the IT service, the alliance of services to the business requirement and development of advanced IT process.
A fruitful continual service improvement plan delivers value to the business which can be regarded as:
Benefit – gains due to the result of improving existing services
Improvement – a consequence that pinpoints measurable changes as compared to the formerly measured state
Return on Investment (ROI) – a benefit to the investor consequential from an investment of some resource
Value on Investment (VOI) – a supplementary benefit not focused on financial gain
Review, analyze and recommend areas of improvement and opportunities in each phase of the ITIL lifecycle
Classify and implement activities for improved efficiency and effectiveness of IT service management processes
Propose actions to develop the quality of service and cost-effectiveness without impacting customer contentment
Make sure that the applicable quality management methods are used to support CSI activities
CSI is applicable across the entire ITIL lifecycle.
Guaranteeing that all the services meet the agreed service level and the processes presented in each of the phase of ITIL lifecycle have accomplished the desired output
Meticulously evaluate the processes and activities and recommend ways for improvement to the senior management teams
Routine inspections/audits to validate employee and process adherence to the company policies
Creating and maintaining strong customer relationships
Ascertaining CSI opportunities by observing the existing deliverables and internal/external services
Making sure that the service improvement activities are given adequate support to implement the solutions
A continual service improvement plan is an onus towards maintaining and improving the existing services. It emphasizes on regular assessment and re-assessment of the processes and functions of IT service management.
Continual service improvement is built on the Plan-Do-Check-Act approach developed by W. Edwards Deming. This is applied in the CSI approach, as follows:
What is the vision? What is our long-term objective?
Where are we now? What are the current values of our KPIs?
Where do we want to be? What are the desired KPI values?
How do we get there? What’s the plan?
Did we get there? Do the KPI values after implementation of the plan meet our objectives?
How do we keep up the momentum? Let’s go back to the beginning.
CSI uses a 7-step process to monitor how data is gathered and used:
Define the objectives
Determine what to measure
Collect the data
Process the data
Analyze the data
Present and use the information
If continual service improvement is carrying out its role as it should be, there will be improvement suggestions coming from all areas of service delivery. If an organization is not likely to have adequate resources to implement all of the suggestions, it is necessary to take note of the improvement opportunities, understand the impact, scope, and resource necessities, and place in order, their implementation. Continual service improvement uses the CSI register as a tool to document, analyze, and strategize for improvements.
As organizations depend more on IT services, it is imperative that IT organizations continually gauge and improve their IT services and the IT service management processes that support those IT services. A formal, hands-on continual service improvement (CSI) practice is essential to meet and accomplish service level agreements.
To implement CSI, establishments need to inculcate the right attitude and drive the right behaviors until they turn out to be second nature. IT providers must set in a culture of measurement that constantly tests the value, quality, performance, and agreement of the services within their portfolio and implement improvement inventiveness that result in the sought after business outcomes.
By description, alignment requires bringing together two distinct entities, often with contrasting goals and objectives. However, in today’s multifaceted IT environment, it is more challenging to understand the difference between an IT service and a business service. Along with this alignment, IT must become a fundamental part of the business. Instead of having disconnected goals and objectives, there must be a single, integrated business operation that operates with fitting technology.
Continual service improvement for IT is recognizing an IT area that is significant for the business and looking for ways to improve it. ITIL defines CSI as a stage in the lifecycle of a service. Continual service improvement ensures that services are aligned with the varying business needs by identifying and implementing improvements to IT services that sustain the business processes.
Continuously monitoring the performance of the IT service provider and then improving the processes, services and infrastructure enables increased efficiency and effectiveness.
The 7-step improvement process in ITIL is combined with the Deming Cycle and the DIKW (Data-Information-Knowledge-Wisdom) model. Enhancements can be made across the ITIL lifecycle with each phase of the lifecycle support providing feedback to the other phases for collective and coordinated improvements.
Continual Service Improvement
Identify the strategy for improvement
Use the data for improvement decisions
Distinct attention should be given to the commercial value of improvements because all establishments have to recover the cost of the services delivered in order to sustain. Financial management models and metrics pertaining to ROI, TCO, VOI, and ROA help here.
Continual Service Improvement is the fifth publication in the ITIL series, but this does not mean that this is the last stage of the ITIL lifecycle. It should rather be a fundamental part of every stage. If you have areas demanding improvement, you can follow the CSI process, revel in quick wins, and validate to the business that it can trust IT. This will open doors and empower businesses to further work on strategic initiatives which is the service strategy component of the ITIL lifecycle.
Implement a continual service improvement program so that you can take optimum advantage of your IT capabilities and resources. Find ways to make IT even more effectual, beneficial, and cost-effective so that it can carry on to drive business value. Continual service improvement will also help you determine value with metrics. By applying a continual service improvement program, you can develop standards and maturity assessments.
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