Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Change Management - How to Implement Service Management

Introducing Service Management into an organization need not be viewed as the huge project that many people seem to think it must necessarily entail. In fact, a good way of going about the task is to think of it as a Service Improvement Programme or a Continual Service Improvement Programme (CSIP).

Most organizations considering implementing Service Management already have several, or perhaps many of the ITIL processes in place. For example, it is difficult to see how an IT department could serve its customers without having at least something that approximates to a Service Desk and, at very least, an Incident Management process, no matter how immature, already in place. Similarly, the existing IT staff will already be using a toolset that provides some kind of mechanism for recording, tracking and closing incidents.

So, in many ways, the organization will already be engaged in Service Management to some extent - even if it is a very limited implementation. The Service Improvement Programme approach, then, is not only a valid option, but a sensible one. The operation can utilize the Continual Service Improvement (CSI) approach to get from its current state to its desired future state.

Here are the steps:

* Where are we Now?
* Where do we Want to Be?
* How will we Get There?
* How will we know we have Arrived?

Those four simple steps are the steps of a Service Improvement Programme. An organization with just a Service Desk and Incident Management process in place might elect to focus on introducing Problem Management, for example; or perhaps, simply improving their existing Incident Management process. This can be properly planned, executed and bedded-in before considering what to do next.

Continuing in this manner, using cycles of improvement, you effectively have a Continuous Service Improvement Programme. ITIL has value for the organization since it provides the overarching, grand vision to which these cycles of improvement will be working. This approach can be very powerful. You don't have the potential disruption and other challenges associated with managing a larger-scale project and over the course of time, you can achieve significant improvement.

In adopting this approach, after each individual cycle (programme), you would stop and take steps to consolidate your position before eventually deciding to move-on. This means ensuring that the improvements are driven deeply into the working methods of the people who are responsible for your service provision. It is better to do one cycle of improvement well than to attempt to implement a whole raft of changes and, as a consequence, end-up doing them all poorly.

Let's take a look at each of the steps of a Service Improvement Programme:

Where are we Now?
This step involves the activity usually known as 'base lining'. The idea is to take some kind of measurement of your current position. If you wanted to improve Incident Management, for example, you might use one of the process maturity measurement frameworks, such as CMMI (Capability Maturity Model Integration), to assess the current level of maturity of your existing process. Alternatively, the base lining step might simply involve taking some simple measurements such as the number, or percentage, of incidents correctly classified at first point of contact. The idea is to take a measurement (or measurements) that can be later used to prove that an improvement did indeed result.

Where do we Want to Be?

This involves setting a specific, measurable goal for the improvement programme. Remember the SMART acronym? Goals should be:

S - Specific M - Measureable A - Achievable
R - Realistic T - Timetabled

For example, you might have a goal to improve the number of incidents correctly classified from the existing 50% to a desired 80% (just an example) within the next one month period. Notice how that goal is (SMART).

How do we Get There?

Generate a plan for the introduction of the improvement - whatever it is. This plan should contain everything necessary to get the change successfully implemented. If your organization already has Change Management in place, for example, it would include the RFCs (Requests for Change) necessary to introduce the change initiative. If your operation does not yet have formal Change Management in place, then the plan would make use of existing internal processes for introducing change.

How will we know we've Arrived?

This is again down to measurement. If your goal had been to improve Incident Management, for example, then perhaps you might expect to see some of the following measureable outcomes:

* Increased Customer Satisfaction
* Better Classification of Incidents at First Point of Contact
* Quicker & More Accurate Escalation of Incidents
* Reduced Time-to-Fix/Respond to Incidents

If you already have Problem Management in place, then additional measureable outcomes might include:

* Better use of KEDB (Known Error Database)
* Reduced Impact of Incidents Using Workarounds
* Better Handling of Major Incidents
* Improved Identification of Problems at the Service Desk

The above items can all be measured and could all be a part of the initial base lining step (Where are we Now?). They can then be compared to the new measurements taken after the improvement initiative.

Which Improvements to Target

Using the above approach, significant improvement can be made over the course of time with minimum disruption to Business-as-Usual operation. The challenge is to choose the improvements that will deliver the most benefits. Of course, getting a few quick-wins is a very useful approach that will help to gain buy-in from those most-affected by the changes. So this should always be taken into account when prioritizing improvement initiatives.

A Particular challenge for many organizations is the matter of Configuration Management. A lot of organizations are not doing it, at present, or are not doing it well. A good CMS (Configuration Management System) with a strong process well-integrated with Change and Release Management processes is right at the heart of effective Service Operations. Getting these things right can lead to huge benefits to the business in terms of cost-savings realized from minimized disruption from necessary change.

In addition, a good Service Catalogue properly integrated within a Portfolio of services will help to get everyone in IT into the Service Management mindset i.e. that IT's job is that of providing services to the business; rather than just keeping the infrastructure working. Good tools can help to get these things right but it is important to choose tools that work the way you want.

Will we Ever Finish Implementing Service Management?

Perhaps the best answer to this is - no!

These days, Service Management is seen much more as a dynamic entity. There will always be changes to cope with; and we will always be finding better ways of dealing with that change. We will always be adapting our thinking as well as our working methods and tools, so Service Management is always likely to be a journey; and not a destination.

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