Continual Service Improvement is Not About Perfection

It seems easy to think that once a project or implementation is completed, it can be crossed off the list. Many IT leaders assume that Continual Service Improvement (CSI) is about achieving perfection, a “one and done” thing. This is not the case.

Think about it: How can you improve on perfection? You can’t, which means CSI would cease to be continual once perfection is reached. (Although I guess the definition of what perfection is could change over time.)

What is CSI?

CSI combines principles, practices and methods from quality management, organizational change management and capability improvement, working to improve each stage in the service lifecycle, as well as the current services, processes, and related activities and technology.

But CSI isn’t limited to processes or the efficiency of the IT department. CSI help you to achieve things that have a direct impact on your customers.

CSI can also help you to:

  • Review and improve your service portfolio: we should not only think about the services which we have delivered in past, but also ensure that services we are delivering to our customers are meeting their current needs.
  • Review and improve every service: to ensure that it delivers what your customers expect, not just what you thought they needed.
  • Review and improve your technology: to ensure that it underpins our services and that it helps us deliver services that meet customer expectations with minimum cost, high quality work and maximum flexibility.
  • Review and improve your service management processes: to ensure that they underpin delivery of the services, that they help you to meet customer expectations, and that they help you work efficiently to minimize the cost of delivering services.
  • Review and improve the skills and competence of your people: to ensure that IT personnel have the right skills and competence to manage the technology, execute the processes, and deliver the services.

When is the Right Time to Think about CSI?

Best-in-class advice here is to be thinking about CSI before deployment. While in the “Built It” phase, where you are determining the improvements you wish to make and how they will align with the business needs, be sure to involve CSI in your considerations with the following questions.

Early-Stage CSI Questions:

  • “How will I maintain a certain level of quality and functionality of this process or enhancement?”
  • “How can I best use my tool sets to support this process or initiative?”
  • “Will I need different people resources or can I educate my current resources with what they need to get the job done?”
  • “What types of reporting and metric will I need to check the health and functionality of the process?”

Answering these questions early on will help establish the initial framework of your CSI needs. And by considering them while you are building or modifying the specific service or process in question, you’re avoiding the delusion of “perfection” and setting yourself up for greater success in the long run.

Contributor: Rajiv Tiwary, Aptris Consultant