Does the ITIL® Framework Need a Facelift?

The following is an excerpt from a longer article, entitled ‘Does the ITIL® Framework Need a Facelift?’ by Malcolm Fry.

Relevance

The eternal problem for the ITIL framework has always been to remain relevant mainly because of the speed of change. For example, few of those involved with the ITIL framework would have had a tablet when the framework was last refreshed in 2011. The iPhone® and iPad® devices came to consumers in June 2007 and April 2010, but who could have predicted, rather than guessed, the impact these technologies would have on consumers? Relevancy could be achieved by having a subscription and issuing updates in the form of new and supplementary segments or by using online technology services. This will always be an issue but can be minimised if approached constructively.

Read more

7 Steps to Continual Service Improvement (CSI) Success

No matter the size or maturity of your service desk, every service desk manager questions how to implement continual service improvement (CSI) and make it meaningful. Implementing CSI successfully can be hard enough; implementing it according to Pink Elephant-certification, best-practice standards is a demanding and often overwhelming process.

Thankfully, Dave Jones’—of Pink Elephant—recently discussed CSI in a webinar and provided a comprehensive, step-by-step guide. While breaking down CSI into a multi-step process is useful for managers, it doesn’t change the “continual” aspect of CSI. “The whole point about continual service improvement is that it’s continual,” Jones confirmed. Recognizing the cyclical nature of CSI is essential for any organization that’s trying to implement CSI. Accordingly, one of Jones’ key messages is that “Everyone has responsibility for continual improvement. This means CSI has to be treated like any other practice and any other process within business.”

Let’s review the seven steps that comprise Jones’ (and Pink Elephant’s) approach to CSI:

  1. Define what you can measure (and identify your strategy). Jones explained that this should be based on the business and IT vision—the strategy, goals, and objectives. The questions you should be asking: What business outcome am I trying to achieve? What are the existing and future business requirements? This step is about positioning yourself for the future and setting the stage for the entire CSI process. It isn’t just about saying what you need to measure but why you need to measure it (that’s the strategy).
  2. Define what you will measure. This process should be based on what your existing tools and resource capabilities are. Ask yourself, “What are our current processes, and how do we want to measure those?” Jones advised to “Make sure all of the reports that [you] generate and all of the time [you] consume are actually being used in a meaningful way.”
  3. Gather the data. You’ve already identified what you’re going to measure and how. Now measure it and organize it. Take the data, Jones says, and “Bring it all into one place so that you can do something constructive with it.” In this step, you should also “implement new monitoring procedures—this could be one of the first CSI initiatives.”
  4. Process the data. After you’ve gathered your data, address your findings. This step is all about “taking the data and turning it into information that makes sense and provides the ability for analysis.”
  5. Analyze the information and data. Identify the trends you find in your data—both negative and positive trends. It’s essential that you document and report on these trends. “One of the most challenging mechanisms you will have is to measure your achievement against perception,” Jones says. Compare your CSI findings against your overall business strategy—your policies, standards, legal requirements, business imperatives, and so forth. There are four main activities that fall within this step: (1) Service Strategy analyzes the results associated with implemented strategies, policies, and standards. (2) Service Design analyzes the current results as well as trends over a period of time and helps to identify opportunities to improve the design and improve the delivery of the end-to-end lifecycle. (3) Service Transition analyzes the results of the service evaluations that include release and deployment activities. (4) Service Operation analyzes the current results of design and project activities.
  6. Present and use the information. Often, this is one of the most overlooked aspects. David’s main point here is to “Know your audience! Your CEO or CFO potentially don’t need technical detail. What they do need is an overall view on what you’ve achieved, which services operated, which services didn’t operate, which users are unhappy.” Present your information in a useful and understandable manner—whether you’re presenting to the CIO or the CFO. It’s also important to conduct QA on your reports—make them accurate and clean.
  7. Implement improvement. Simple and straightforward, David recommends treating your “improvement initiatives as formal programs and projects.” Take it seriously, and involve your entire team. For Jones, CSI implementation is a matter of turning “knowledge into wisdom”—translating technical knowledge into practical knowledge. That’s how organizations successfully improve their processes.

While there’s no guaranteed formula for CSI success, Jones’ and Pink Elephant’s seven-step approach offers a measured and logical method for those looking to implement CSI. And, once you’ve gone through all the steps, go right back to the beginning, and do it all over again. After all, it’s continuous.

By Jamison Pfeifer

Building Innovation into your IT Service Desk. Does this depend on your tool or your team?

Innovation is a slippery thing. Take some of the well-known quotes about innovation. When asked about the idea behind the Model T car, Henry Ford is quoted as saying, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses”. Ralph Waldo Emerson is also attributed with the aphorism, “Build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door.”

Attribution for both these quotes is currently sketchy, but they demonstrate the wide range of opinion that exists around what innovation is. One man’s new and innovative approach to solving a problem is another’s evolution of an existing process.

For the service desk, the ability to innovate captures the opportunity to improve service quality and delivery. This can involve replacing a current IT service management (ITSM) platform with a new one that can help deliver on those aims. But, how can you grab the opportunity that comes with choosing a new service desk tool to become more innovative in your approach?

Should you look at Ford’s approach to innovation and selectively ignore what customers are asking for? Can services be designed so they meet customer needs better than what they can imagine for themselves? Or should you look at iterating and building on what already exists?

Thinking around innovation and what you want to achieve is a great reason to revisit what is currently in place in terms of process, people and technology. The role of the ITIL® framework and best practice within ITSM means that many help desk software tools tick most, if not all, of the boxes for most organisations. However, there are differences between helpdesk solutions that can create more efficiency and better results.

Creating genuine innovation around ITSM relies on data. Data provides greater insight into what problems are developing and how they can be traced back to root causes. It can also be used to rethink approaches to customer service. As an example, the location of an individual request for assistance can be bundled with other reported issues in the same vicinity, so that a number of issues can be dealt with at the same time.

Just like retail and logistics companies use data to plot the most efficient route to deliver goods, so too can IT use data to continuously improve the quality of its department. This ability to interpret and apply data can create opportunities to surprise customers with outstanding service. Providing proactive help with problems is one of the best ways to increase customer satisfaction and help to improve the perception of IT services in general.

Finding new opportunities to be innovative relies primarily on keeping your thinking cap on, planning ahead and speaking with others outside of IT. For example, creating and updating a service catalogue offers a much greater opportunity to spot where resources can be put to the greatest use and to support upcoming IT requirements in an innovative way.

It’s worth knowing that Ford’s approach to building a product was based on making use of rolling construction, where the car moves along the manufacturing facility and is put together, or built, by experts along each section. Specialisation here enabled greater productivity and efficiency. In the same way, look at each member of your service desk team and identify their skills and expertise. Use this to foster their approach to innovative thinking for problem solving and creativity.

Implementing a new service desk or helpdesk tool can provide initial, and sometimes dramatic, benefits. However, the greatest opportunity for true innovation will come from how the help desk team uses its tools in new ways to meet business requirements. This could be using the tool in a completely new way such as ‘outside IT’ or using it to improve what’s already in existence. The aim here is to turn what’s currently OK up to good, and what’s good to great.