The continual service improvement phase of The IT Infrastructure Library is a strategic period focused on finding ways to make consistent updates and upgrades to a company's IT service management strategies. The need to both understand exactly where a company's ITSM plans rest in the moment and where they need to go moving forward makes continual service improvement extremely challenging. Predicting the future is a finicky art, but continual service deployment is not so much about anticipating the future as it is about preparing for it. With that in mind, these four vital considerations for continual service improvement can help you create a procedural framework that allows you to establish an effective evolution pathway for your ITSM plans:
1. Perform a gap analysis
You need to identify where your actual performance stands in comparison to your desired performance. Understanding this gap between where you are and where you could be is critical to informing your plans to upgrade the service desk. There are a few things any gap analysis should tell you:
- Identify just how much work needs to be done to reach your goal
- Understand the specific pain points that are getting in the way of reaching your ITSM potential
- Which operations/processes are lagging behind the innovation curve
- What immediate improvements can be made to improve day-to-day functionality
- Where you need to think about long-term improvements because the problem is too big for a quick fix
A gap analysis can teach you a great deal about where your ITSM strategies need to go moving forward, and acts as a key cog in continual service improvement.
2. Take a close look at auditing
Knowing yourself is key if you want to make continual improvements a reality, and many organizations lack a good self-auditing system that allows them to understand how their ITSM systems work and perform key analysis efficiently. Looking closely at how you perform self-audits and consider ways to improve these capabilities in order to smooth the entire continual improvement process by giving your managers and leaders an easier pathway to understanding how different support and IT teams function.
3. Creating checks and balances
Any long-term planning needs to be continually evaluated and analyzed from a fresh perspective to make sure the tactics are lining up with what an organization needs. You can't afford to have an ITSM team pour significant time and energy into developing new strategies and then have that same group be responsible for auditing. Those individuals will inherently be biased about what they are seeing because they want to see their initial ideas succeed.
A good system of checks and balances will allow multiple parties to have a stake in different phases of the project to ensure that continual improvement strategies remain balanced, focused and are assessed as objectively as possible.
4. Set quantifiable goals
Many of the advances that come from a good continuous improvement strategy will be difficult to measure. However, there are plenty of ways to clearly identify the value that is being created through such initiatives, often through metrics like key performance indicators or by comparing older data to information that has been gathered since the introduction of the service improvement. Organizations that want to maximize the benefits of continuous service improvement need to have measurable goals that allow them to accurately assess the difference being made as they work to update services. Having some abstract, cultural improvement ideals is fine, but you need to also offer quantifiable goals for your workers to take aim at.
The ITIL framework for continuous service improvement may be difficult to follow because it pushes your organization to strive for ongoing excellence, but following these steps can help you set a solid foundation for a constantly evolving ITSM plan.