In IT, and especially within Service Management, it is very easy to get caught up in the day to day running of operations. Dealing with incidents, audits, onboarding new services – it can be incredibly hectic and sometimes you feel like you are operating in an entirely reactive manner. You can have the best laid plans then a major incident happens and wipes out your entire day (or week!).
To operate in a more proactive, ever-evolving way Continuous Service Improvement (CSI) has to become embedded in your culture. The underlying concept of CSI stems from the 20th-century management consultant W. Edwards Deming who came up with the four-step loop of plan, do, check and act known as the Deming Circle. The Deming Circle is executed repeatedly to provide steady, ongoing process or service improvement.
A practical example of implementing CSI in your service function is to focus on Problem Management. I have seen so many examples where service teams are so busy putting out fires and dealing with incidents that they never take the time to step back and understand why they are having so many of these incidents in the first place. Putting good Problem Management processes in place would (in this example) get to the underlying root cause of major and repeating incidents, propose a solution, and prevent those incidents from reoccurring. Over time Problem Management would become part of the ‘business as usual’ in your team and a steady ongoing reduction in incidents would be seen.
It is important to pick your battles when deciding to implement CSI. Rather than trying to improve everything focus on a manageable number of areas where real value and improvement can be achieved.
Once you have identified the areas where you need to adopt CSI you can measure your current capability and put plans in place to reach a desired level of improvement. You don’t have to be perfect in every area, so set achievable targets. Maturity models such as the Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) exist to help you assess your current capability and maturity. They also provide guidelines to streamline process improvement and encourage productive, efficient behaviours that help motivate your teams, improve service and decrease risk.
At Fundamentals First we have many years’ experience of helping organisations of all sizes embed CSI into their day to day running, as well as supporting them with their improvements in maturity and capability, using tools like CMMI.