ITIL Intermediate CSI - Continual Service Improvement Processes Tutorial

ITIL Intermediate CSI – Continual Service Improvement Processes Tutorial

Last updated on 29th Sep 2020, Blog, Tutorials

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Continual Service Improvement Process

Welcome to the lesson 3 ‘Continual Service Improvement Process’ which is a part of the ITIL Intermediate CSI Certification Course. This chapter deals with details about the Processes in continual service improvement, covering the managerial and supervisory aspects.

Objectives

By the end of this ‘Continual Service Improvement Process’ lesson, you will be able to:

    li>Understand and describe the knowledge, interpretation, and analysis of improvement principles, techniques, and relationships, and their application to ensure continual service improvement.
  • Know what the seven-step improvement process is, how each step can be applied and the benefits produced
  • Know how CSI integrates with the other stages in the ITIL Service Lifecycle
  • Understand how other processes play key roles in the seven-step improvement process.

The Seven-Step Improvement Process

Let us start with the Purpose or Goal of the process.

The goal is to define and manage the steps needed to identify, define, gather process, analyze, present and implement improvements.

The objectiveof the seven-step process is to identify opportunities for improving services, process etc and reduce the cost of providing services. The objective is also to Identify what needs to be measured, analyzed and reported and continually review service achievements.

CSI’s Scopeis identified with the Analysis of the performance and capabilities of service, processes throughout the Lifecycle, partners, and technology.CSI’S Scope is to continually align the portfolio of IT services with the current and future business needs.

Let us now move on to our next section which explains the Value to the business of the Seven-Step Improvement Process.

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Value to business

With the help of these processes in CSI, current and future business outcome requirements can be met by monitoring and analyzing the delivery of service It also enables the continual assessment of the current situation against business needs The organization achieves the capability to identify opportunities to improve service provision for customers.

Let us now move on to our next section which explains the Policies to be considered in Seven-Step Improvement Process.

Policies

All improvement initiatives must use the formal change management process All functional groups within IT have a responsibility for CSI activities This might be only one person in the group, but the intent here is that CSI is not usually a functional group within an organization.

Everyone has hand in supporting CSI activities Roles and responsibilities will be documented, communicated and filled within IT Services must be checked against competitive service offerings to ensure they continue to add true business value to the client, and the service provider remains competitive in its delivery of such services.

All the Services must be reviewed in the light of the new technological advance (e.g. Cloud computing) to ensure they are delivering the most efficient services to customers.

Let us now move on to our next section which explains the Policy example of monitoring services.

Policy Example Of Monitoring Services

Let us see what will be in the Policy statement IT and the business must agree on what to monitor and collect data for each service This data should be aligned with the SLAs, OLAs, and contracts

The Reason for this policy is that it Provides inputs into CSI activities to identify gaps and improvement opportunities Benefits result to Ensure agreement on defining what to monitor.

The organization gets benefited in Defining monitoring requirements for new services/ existing services to support CSI activities, Identify trends and gaps. It also Supports prioritization and improvement projects. Let us now move on to our next section which explains the Basic Concepts related to the seven-step improvement process.

Basic Concepts

There are certain basic concepts that need to be taken care of during the seven-step improvement process. Let us learn more about these concepts below:

The first concept is to take business commitment.

CSI requires a commitment from everyone in IT working throughout the service Lifecycle to be successful in improving services and service management processes.

The second concept of CSI is to gain ongoing attention, a well-thought plan, and consistent attention to monitoring, analyzing and reporting the results with an eye toward improvement.

These Improvements can be incremental in nature but also requires a huge commitment to implement two new services or meet new business requirements.

Lastly, the IT services must ensure that proper staffing and tools are identified and implemented to support CSI activities.

Let us now move on to our next section which explains the Process activities, methods, and techniques.

Process Activities, Methods, And Techniques

Let us see what are the Process activities in the following points:

  • The first activity is to Identify the strategy for improvement
  • Second activity is to Define what you will measure
  • Third activity is to Gather the data
  • Fourth activity is to Process the data
  • Fifth activity is to Analyze the information and data
  • Sixth activity is to Present and use the information seventh activity is to Implement improvement

Let us now move on to our next section which explains the Process activities, methods, and techniques of seven-step improvement process in pictorial form.

Seven Step Improvement Process

The following image explains the Process activities, methods, and techniques of seven-step improvement process in pictorial form.

process_in_pictorial_form

Let us now move on to our next section and learn about these individual activities in detail.

Step 1 – Identify the strategy for improvement

In each activity it is important that you know, what do you actually measure and where do you find the information?

These are two very important questions and should not be ignored or taken lightly. Before any further activity can be started it is imperative that the overall vision is identified.

What are we trying to achieve for the business as a whole?

How can improvements enable the business vision to be achieved?

One needs to Compile a list of what you should measure. This will often be driven by business requirements. Don’t try to cover every single eventuality or possible metric in the world. Make it simple. The number of what you should measure can grow quite rapidly. So too can the number of metrics and measurements.

The inputs of the first activity are:

  • Service level requirements and targets
  • Service Catalogue
  • Vision and mission statements
  • Corporate, divisional and departmental goals and objectives
  • Legislative requirements
  • Governance requirements
  • Budget cycle
  • Balanced Scorecard

The expected Outputs for the first activity are:

  • Vision statement
  • Mission statement
  • Objectives
  • Goals

Let us now move on to our next section which explains the second step: Define what you will measure.

Step 2 – Define what you will measure

Every organization may find that they have limitations on what can actually be measured. If you cannot measure something then it should not appear in an SLA.

So the Question is:

What do you actually measure?

And the Answer is:

Start by listing the tools you currently have in place.

These tools will include service management tools, monitoring tools, reporting tools, investigation tools and others. Compile a list of what each tool can currently measure without any configuration or customization.

Stay away from customizing the tools as much as possible; configuring them is acceptable Now the concern is where will you find the information?

The answer is: The information is found in each process, procedure and work instruction. The tools are merely a way to collect and provide the data.

Look at existing reports and databases. And Perform a gap analysis between the two lists. Report this information back to the business, the customers, and IT management. It is possible that new tools are required or that configuration or customization is required to be able to measure what is required. Document the actual measurement plan.

The Inputs for the second step are:

  • SLR and targets
  • Service review meeting
  • Service portfolio and the service catalog
  • Vision and mission statements
  • Corporate, divisional and departmental goals and objectives
  • Legislative requirements
  • Governance requirements
  • Budget cycle
  • Measurement results and reports, e.g. Balanced scorecard

The outputs of the second step are:

  • Measurable metrics
  • Gap analysis of metrics
  • Measurement plan

Let us now move on to our next section which explains the third step: Gather the data.

Step 3 – Gather the data

Gathering data requires having some form of monitoring in place. Monitoring could be executed using technology such as application, system and component monitoring tools or even be a manual process for certain tasks.

So for third step Question is:

What do you actually measure?

And the Answer is:

You gather whatever data has been identified as both needed and measurable.

Please remember that not all data is gathered automatically. A lot of data is entered manually by people. It is important to ensure that policies are in place to drive the right behavior to ensure that this manual data entry follows the SMART (Specific-Measurable-Achievable-Relevant-Timely) principle.

As much as possible, you need to standardize the data structure through policies and published standards. For example, how do you enter names in your tools – John Smith; Smith, John or J. Smith? These can be the same or different individuals.

Having three different ways of entering the same name would slow downtrend analysis and will severely impede any CSI initiative.

The inputs for this step will be:

  • New business requirements
  • Existing SLAs
  • Existing monitoring and data capture capability
  • Plans from other processes, e.g. Availability management and capacity management
  • The CSI register and existing SIP
  • Previous trend analysis reports

The Outputs for this step will be:

  • Updated availability and capacity plans
  • Monitoring procedures
  • Identified tools to use
  • Monitoring plan
  • Input on IT capability
  • Collection of data
  • Agreement on the integrity of the data
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Step 4 – Process the data

Let us understand the fourth step: Process the data.

So for data processing, the Question is:

What do you actually do here?

And the Answer is:

Convert the data to the required format and for the required audience.

Follow the trail from metric to KPI to CSF, all the way back to the vision if necessary Once data is gathered, the next step is to process the data into the required format. Report-generating technologies are typically used at this stage as various amounts of data are condensed into information for use in the analysis activity.

The data is also typically put into a format that provides an end-to-end perspective on the overall performance of a service. This activity begins the transformation of raw data into packaged information. Use the information to develop insight into the performance of the service and/or processes.

Process the data into information (i.e. create logical groupings) which provides a better means to analyze the data – the next activity step in CSI. Processing the data is an important CSI activity that is often overlooked.

While monitoring and collecting data on a single infrastructure component is important, it is also important to understand that component’s impact on the larger infrastructure and IT service. Knowing that a server was up 99.99% of the time is one thing, knowing that no one could access the server is another.

An example of processing the data is taking the data from monitoring of the individual components such as the mainframe, applications, WAN, LAN, servers etc. And process this into a structure of an end-to-end service from the customer’s perspective.

The inputs for the fourth step will be:

  • Data collected through monitoring
  • Reporting requirements
  • SLAs
  • OLAs
  • Service Catalogue
  • List of metrics, KPI, CSF, objectives, and goals
  • Report frequency and
  • Report template

Outputs for the fourth step will be:

  • Updated availability and capacity plan
  • Reports
  • Logical groupings of data ready for analysis

Let us now move on to our next section explains the fifth step: Analyze the information and data

Step 5 – Analyze the information and data

Your organization’s Service Desk has a trend of reduced call volumes consistently over the last four months. Even though this is a trend, you need to ask yourself the question: ‘Is this a good trend or a bad trend?’

You don’t know if the call reduction is because you have reduced the number of recurring errors in the infrastructure by good problem management activities.

It is also the case if the customers feel that the Service Desk doesn’t provide any value and they have started bypassing the Service Desk and going directly to second-level support groups.

Data analysis transforms the information into knowledge of the events that are affecting the organization. More skill and experience is required to perform data analysis than data gathering and processing. Verification of goals and objectives is expected during this activity. This verification validates that objectives are being supported and value is being added.

It is not sufficient to simply produce graphs of various types but to document the observations and conclusions.

So now the Question is: What do you actually analyze?

And the Answer is: Once the data is processed into information, you can then analyze the results, looking for answers to questions such as:

  • Are there any clear trends?
  • Are they positive or negative trends?
  • Are changes required?
  • Are we operating according to plan?
  • Are we meeting targets?

The inputs for the fifth step will be:

  • Monitored data
  • Existing KPIs and targets
  • Problem-solving techniques
  • The perception of customer satisfaction surveys etc.

The Outputs for the fifth step will be:

  • Trends
  • Observations
  • Statistical analysis reports
  • Pareto distributions
  • Bottlenecks
  •  Evaluation reportsLet us now move on to our next section which explains the sixth step: Present and use the information.

Step 6 – Present and use the information

The sixth step is to take our knowledge and present it, that is, turn it into wisdom by utilizing reports, monitors, action plans, reviews, evaluations, and opportunities. Consider the target audience; make sure that you identify exceptions to the service, benefits that have been revealed, or can be expected. Data gathering occurs at the operational level of an organization.

Format this data into knowledge that all levels can appreciate and gain insight into their needs and expectations.

This stage involves presenting the information in a format that is understandable, at the right level, provides value, notes exceptions to service, identifies the benefits that were revealed during the time period, and allows those receiving the information to make strategic, tactical and operational decisions. In other words, presenting the information in the manner that makes it the most useful for the target audience.

The Inputs for the sixth step will be:

  • Collated data and information
  • Format details and templates etc.
  • Stakeholder contact details

And the Outputs for the sixth step will be:

  • Funding requirements
  • Presentation to key stakeholders
  • Gap analysis
  • Cost-benefit analysis
  • Service level achievements chart
  • SLAM chart (target met, target threatened, target breached)

Step 7 – Implement improvement

Now the seventh step is Implement improvement: Use the knowledge gained to optimize, improve and correct services. Managers need to identify issues and present solutions. Explain how the corrective actions to be taken will improve the service.

If organizations were implementing corrective action according to CSI, there would be no need for this publication. Corrective action is often done in reaction to a single event that caused a (severe) outage to part or all of the organization.

Other times, the squeaky wheel will get noticed and specific corrective action will be implemented in no relation to the priorities of the organization, thus taking valuable resources away from real emergencies. This is common practice but obviously not best practice.

Now let us see the Inputs for the seventh step which are listed below:

  • Firstly the Knowledge and wisdom gained from presenting and using the information
  • Gained Approval on agreed implementation plans
  • And A CSI register for those initiatives that have been initiated from other sources

Let us understand the Outputs for the seventh step which are listed below:

  • Action plans
  • Project plans
  • Initiatives
  • Change requests

Triggers, Inputs, and Outputs of the Seven-Step Improvement Process

The triggers, inputs, and outputs of seven-step improvement process are discussed in this section.

Let us start with the triggers. The effective Triggers are:

  • Monitoring to identify improvement opportunities and it must be an ongoing process
  • New incentives may trigger additional measurement activities such as charging requirements, poor performance with a process

Many inputs and outputs to the process are documented in the steps such as:

  • Service Catalogue
  • SLRs
  • The service review meeting
  • Vision and mission statements
  • Governance requirements
  • Budget cycle

Let us now move on to our next section which explains the Interfaces.

Interfaces

Interfaces are to support improvement activities it is important to have CSI integrated into each Lifecycle stage.

Service Strategy

Service Strategy is responsible for monitoring the progress of strategies, standards, policies and architectural decisions that have been made and implemented.

Service Design

Service Design monitors and gathers data associated with creating and modifying (design efforts) of services and service management processes.

This part of the service Lifecycle also measures the effectiveness and ability to measure CSFs and KPIs that were defined through gathering business requirements. Service Design also defines what should be measured.

This would include monitoring project schedules, progress to project milestones, and project results against goals and objectives. Service Transition develops the monitoring procedures and criteria to be used during and after implementation.

Challenges

The Challenges associated with the seven step improvement process are:

  • In Getting the required resources to implement and run the process
  • In Gathering the right level of data and having the tools
  • The willingness of the IT organization to approach CSI in a consistent and structured way
  • Get commitment from management to approach it in a better way
  • Obtaining sufficient information from the business regarding improvement requirements and cost reduction
  • At times Persuading suppliers to include improvement in their contractual agreements

Let us now move on to our next section which explains the Risks.

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Risks

There are certain risks associated with the seven step improvement process. These risks can be:

  • No formalized approach to CSI and initiatives being taken on randomly in an ad-hoc manner
  • Insufficient monitoring and analysis to identify the areas of greatest need
  • Staff attitude such as ‘We have always done it this way and it has always been good enough’
  • Inability to make the business case for improvement and therefore no funding for improvement or loss of ownership
  • Lack of ownership or loss of ownership
  • Too much focus on IT improvements without a clear understanding of business needs and objectives

Conclusion

In this lesson, we learned about the interpretation and analysis of improvement principles, techniques, and relationships, and their application to ensure continual service improvement. We also studied the seven-step improvement process and how each step can be applied and the benefits produced.

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