Computer Weekly recently published a great article about continual service improvement (CSI), by Vernon Lloyd. Vernon says that service providers should “continually be looking for ways to improve the services they deliver or to introduce new services that enable new or better business outcomes to be achieved”. He goes on to describe the use of a CSI register to record and manage improvement opportunities, the importance of categorization and prioritization, and making sure that the benefits are realized. The article finishes with a discussion of the value of assessments in providing input to CSI.
I agree with Vernon that CSI is an essential capability for any service provider. In fact when someone asks me which ITIL process they should implement first, I often answer CSI, because this will provide the environment for them to grow and mature all the other processes.
An organization that implements good ITSM processes, and then relies on CSI to keep improving their efficiency and effectiveness can become very good at what they do, and this can give them a significant competitive advantage, for a while, but there will always come a point where continuing to improve what you already do is not enough. To keep ahead of the competition you need to think about transforming what you do, rather than continuing to do the same things more efficiently.
Imagine a bookshop that may have spent 20 years improving their stock control, creating imaginative window displays, encouraging customers through the door with continual improvement in the value they offer. Is this enough to enable them to remain in business for the next 20 years? Or do they need to stand back and think about what they do, as well as how well they do it? The reason they need to change their strategy is because the external environment has changed, many consumers prefer to use new technology to purchase and consume information.
When IT service providers start to think about transformation they should consider the outcomes that are valuable to their customers, and how these have changed over time. They need to look at what markets and customers they are serving, and whether these will continue to be right in the future. Above all they have to think “are we doing the right things?” as well as “are we doing things right?” This is the first step towards creating a strategy.
If the senior management in your IT organization haven’t stepped back from operational issues to ask these sorts of questions then you run the risk of being left behind, of becoming the bricks and mortar bookshop of the virtual world.
If you want more ideas about how to start thinking strategically then read some of my other blogs:
- Using strategic service management to help create value for your customers
- IT strategy: 4 things you can learn from the U.S. government (yes, the U.S. government)
- IT Strategy: 3 more things you can learn from the U.S. Government
- 3 Steps an IT manager should take to earn their seat on the board
- Prioritizing time to get started on strategic planning
Learn more about HP ITSM Improvement Services and how HP can help you improve the effectiveness and efficiency of your IT operations. Read how HP helped one company streamline its IT service management.
For more info about me and what I can do for your organization, see my profile at our Technology Services Experts page.
Follow me on Twitter @StuartRance