The best time to start talking about continual service improvement (CSI) is at the beginning. Improvement projects and ITIL projects approach far too late in the game to make the most effective use of CSI. It may sound like putting the cart before the horse, but Rob England argues for The ITSM Review that the only right way to implement CSI is to always be implementing CSI. He bases this conclusion upon four premises:
- Everything we change is service improvement.
- Improvement planning comes first.
- We don’t have enough resources to execute all desired improvements.
- We choose the wrong unit of work for improvements.
England begins by reminding us that change and portfolio management are both forms of service improvement regardless of what they are called. On top of that, projects of all sizes occur under one grand portfolio, even if costs are subsequently subdivided. The most efficient way to budget money long-term is to broadcast in advance what improvements could stand to be made down the line. In the real world though, money cannot always be budgeted in the most strictly practical ways, as politics and mandates get in the way. Being able to pick battles and select which areas could benefit from improvement most is key. How to go about determining those areas is a matter of recognizing organizational needs and satisfying required outcomes. England however warns against using ITIL processes for service management projects:
One way to improve focus is to work on smaller units than a whole practice. A major shortcoming of many IT service management projects is that they take the ITIL ‘processes’ as the building blocks of the programme. ’We will do Incident first’. ’We can’t do Change until we have done Configuration’. Even some of the official ITIL books promote this thinking. Put another way, you don’t eat an elephant one leg at a time: you eat it one steak at a time… and one mouthful at a time within the meal. Especially when the elephant has about 80 legs.
He concludes by saying expediency and pragmatism are the tickets to manageable improvement. A thick and rigid system will not always address the most pertinent needs of the organization, and as is often the case, there is no time like the present to implement functioning CSI into your projects.