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A Trilogy – The One-Hour Service IT Service Management Improvement Plan

IT Service Management

It would be fantastic to think that after completing an ITIL® course delegates started creating service improvement plans.   All too often whilst the IT Service Management enthusiasm is very much evident most people struggle to know where to start.

I’d like to share some tests you can try to provide the focus needed to start to drive improvement.

Most of us take time to apply new knowledge; often because work priorities mean that changing the way of working takes second place to being a part of it.  When we have the time to implement new ideas, things are often not as clear as when we attended a training course.

Most organisations already have some processes in place.  They might not be fully ITIL-conformant but may be effective.  Few managers are willing to ‘plough-up’ everything that is currently in place, in favour of ITIL-conformant IT Service Management processes, that they may feel are unproven in your environment.

With this in mind, I’ve devised some simple actions you can try…  They are designed to be executed in under an hour to highlight a process that might require review.

These tests are not meant to replace a full review but might provide the impetus and justification for one.   You may not be able to perform every check here as they depend to some extent on available information and processes being in place.

1.    Everyone — Get some ownership

We don’t all have the ability to align every ITIL process to a dedicated manager. You probably don’t have every ITIL process working anyway.   Don’t confuse process with people.  Use the simple and effective RACI matrix to allocate some roles and responsibilities for the processes you are undertaking.  Actually putting someone ‘in charge’ drives focus.  Being accountable sharpens the mind.

2.    2nd line support — stop cherry picking

Analyse the Incidents for long running issues.  If you don’t have a dedicated problem manager nominate a process owner and make someone responsible for regular progress reports on problem (of a frequency that matches the stated priority).  If they are not, initiate a review of the priority of the problem.

Check that problems, when closed, have not been closed with “re-open if it happens again”, or had their priority reduced, not because the impact on the business has lessened but because insufficient resource is available.

Many organisations find it difficult to justify the effort for the resolution of long-term problems.  The longer it has been there, the harder it is likely to be, the less anyone will want to champion it.

3.    Change management — zero tolerance to unauthorised change

Determine the percentage of changes that ‘slipped through the net’.  These might be things that have cropped up as ‘unplanned emergencies’ or those things perceived not to be real changes.

Many organisations are not willing to implement full change management because of the perceived bureaucracy.  Of course, low cost low risk changes can be approved as standard changes, still process led and authorised but more fluid and thus ‘palatable’. There is some investment in assessing suitable candidates but there is a longer term payoff.  Swift application of change management that is still auditable and risk/cost controlled.

Poorly controlled or bureaucratic change can lead to high levels of Incidents, extended time to resolve such Incidents and ultimately dissatisfied customers.

Service managers — flag waving

Solicit good news and improve perceptions.  Ask your customers what it is that they think you do well.  It might be that you always attempt to resolve issues that your staff are always accommodating or demonstrate good customer service skills.

Publicise the things you do well but check that these things are of value to your customers.   Are they ever at the expense of other activities, more valued by your customers, which you aren’t doing well?

Be careful about the language you use when asking questions about the service.  Always asking “what did we do wrong” creates a poor perception of your own estimation of the service and misses the opportunity to get customers thinking about the positive aspects of what you do.

I did say this was a one hour service improvement plan.  Whilst I don’t think you can action all of your findings in that time I think you can assemble a focused plan.  With any IT service management improvement activity quick wins are important.  Demonstrating success inspires and motivates, it’s what keep the momentum for improvement going and promotes the much sought after ‘service culture’.

This article was first published in the itSMF Australia Bulletin

Watch for part 2, coming very soon.

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