ITIL Intermediate CSI - Continual Service Improvement Processes Tutorial

Continual Service Improvement Process

Welcome to the lesson 3 ‘Continual Service Improvement Process’ which is a part of the ITIL Intermediate CSI Certification Course. This chapter deals with details about the Processes in continual service improvement, covering the managerial and supervisory aspects.

Let us begin with the objectives of this lesson.

Objectives

By the end of this ‘Continual Service Improvement Process’ lesson, you will be able to:

  • Understand and describe the knowledge, interpretation, and analysis of improvement principles, techniques, and relationships, and their application to ensure continual service improvement.

  • Know what the seven-step improvement process is, how each step can be applied and the benefits produced

  • Know how CSI integrates with the other stages in the ITIL Service Lifecycle

  • Understand how other processes play key roles in the seven-step improvement process.

Let us go ahead and learn more about the Continual Service Improvement Process

Preparing to become an expert in ITIL Intermediate CSI? Consider taking a look at our Course Preview!

The Seven-Step Improvement Process

Let us start with the Purpose or Goal of the process.

The goal is to define and manage the steps needed to identify, define, gather process, analyze, present and implement improvements.

The objective of the seven-step process is to identify opportunities for improving services, process etc and Reduce the cost of providing services The objective is also to Identify what needs to be measured, analyzed and reported and continually review service achievements.

CSI’s Scope is identified with the Analysis of the performance and capabilities of service, processes throughout the Lifecycle, partners, and technology.CSI’S Scope is to continually align the portfolio of IT services with the current and future business needs.

Let us now move on to our next slide which explains the Value to the business of the Seven-Step Improvement Process.

Value to business

With the help of these processes in CSI, current and future business outcome requirements can be met by monitoring and analyzing the delivery of service It also enables the continual assessment of the current situation against business needs The organization achieves the capability to identify opportunities to improve service provision for customers.

Let us now move on to our next slide which explains the Policies to be considered in Seven-Step Improvement Process.

Policies

All improvement initiatives must use the formal change management process All functional groups within IT have a responsibility for CSI activities This might be only one person in the group, but the intent here is that CSI is not usually a functional group within an organization.

Everyone has hand in supporting CSI activities Roles and responsibilities will be documented, communicated and filled within IT Services must be checked against competitive service offerings to ensure they continue to add true business value to the client, and the service provider remains competitive in its delivery of such services.

All the Services must be reviewed in the light of the new technological advance (e.g. Cloud computing) to ensure they are delivering the most efficient services to customers.

Let us now move on to our next slide which explains the Policy example of monitoring services.

Policy Example Of Monitoring Services

Let us see what will be in the Policy statement IT and the business must agree on what to monitor and collect data for each service This data should be aligned with the SLAs, OLAs, and contracts

The Reason for this policy is that it Provides inputs into CSI activities to identify gaps and improvement opportunities Benefits result to Ensure agreement on defining what to monitor.

The organization gets benefited in Defining monitoring requirements for new services/ existing services to support CSI activities, Identify trends and gaps. It also Supports prioritization and improvement projects. Let us now move on to our next slide which explains the Basic Concepts related to the seven-step improvement process.

Basic Concepts

There are certain basic concepts that need to be taken care of during the seven-step improvement process. Let us learn more about these concepts below:

The first concept is to take business commitment.

CSI requires a commitment from everyone in IT working throughout the service Lifecycle to be successful in improving services and service management processes.

The second concept of CSI is to gain ongoing attention, a well-thought plan, and consistent attention to monitoring, analyzing and reporting the results with an eye toward improvement.

These Improvements can be incremental in nature but also requires a huge commitment to implement two new services or meet new business requirements.

Lastly, the IT services must ensure that proper staffing and tools are identified and implemented to support CSI activities.

Let us now move on to our next slide which explains the Process activities, methods, and techniques.

Process Activities, Methods, And Techniques

Let us see what are the Process activities in the following points:

  • The first activity is to Identify the strategy for improvement

  • Second activity is to Define what you will measure

  • Third activity is to Gather the data

  • Fourth activity is to Process the data

  • Fifth activity is to Analyze the information and data

  • Sixth activity is to Present and use the information seventh activity is to Implement improvement

Let us now move on to our next slide which explains the Process activities, methods, and techniques of seven-step improvement process in pictorial form.

Seven Step Improvement Process

The following image explains the Process activities, methods, and techniques of seven-step improvement process in pictorial form.

Let us now move on to our next slide and learn about these individual activities in detail.

Step 1 - Identify the strategy for improvement

In each activity it is important that you know, what do you actually measure and where do you find the information?

These are two very important questions and should not be ignored or taken lightly. Before any further activity can be started it is imperative that the overall vision is identified.

What are we trying to achieve for the business as a whole?

How can improvements enable the business vision to be achieved?

One needs to Compile a list of what you should measure. This will often be driven by business requirements. Don’t try to cover every single eventuality or possible metric in the world. Make it simple. The number of what you should measure can grow quite rapidly. So too can the number of metrics and measurements.

The inputs of the first activity are:

  • Service level requirements and targets

  • Service Catalogue

  • Vision and mission statements

  • Corporate, divisional and departmental goals and objectives

  • Legislative requirements

  • Governance requirements

  • Budget cycle

  • Balanced Scorecard

The expected Outputs for the first activity are:

  • Vision statement

  • Mission statement

  • Objectives

  • Goals

Let us now move on to our next slide which explains the second step: Define what you will measure.

Step 2 - Define what you will measure

Every organization may find that they have limitations on what can actually be measured. If you cannot measure something then it should not appear in an SLA.

So the Question is:

What do you actually measure?

And the Answer is:

Start by listing the tools you currently have in place.

These tools will include service management tools, monitoring tools, reporting tools, investigation tools and others. Compile a list of what each tool can currently measure without any configuration or customization.

Stay away from customizing the tools as much as possible; configuring them is acceptable Now the concern is where will you find the information?

The answer is: The information is found in each process, procedure and work instruction. The tools are merely a way to collect and provide the data.

Look at existing reports and databases. And Perform a gap analysis between the two lists. Report this information back to the business, the customers, and IT management. It is possible that new tools are required or that configuration or customization is required to be able to measure what is required. Document the actual measurement plan.

The Inputs for the second step are:

  • SLR and targets

  • Service review meeting

  • Service portfolio and the service catalog

  • Vision and mission statements

  • Corporate, divisional and departmental goals and objectives

  • Legislative requirements

  • Governance requirements

  • Budget cycle

  • Measurement results and reports, e.g. Balanced scorecard

The outputs of the second step are:

  • Measurable metrics

  • Gap analysis of metrics

  • Measurement plan

Let us now move on to our next slide which explains the third step: Gather the data.

Step 3 - Gather the data

Gathering data requires having some form of monitoring in place. Monitoring could be executed using technology such as application, system and component monitoring tools or even be a manual process for certain tasks.

So for third step Question is:

What do you actually measure?

And the Answer is:

You gather whatever data has been identified as both needed and measurable.

Please remember that not all data is gathered automatically. A lot of data is entered manually by people. It is important to ensure that policies are in place to drive the right behavior to ensure that this manual data entry follows the SMART (Specific-Measurable-Achievable-Relevant-Timely) principle.

As much as possible, you need to standardize the data structure through policies and published standards. For example, how do you enter names in your tools – John Smith; Smith, John or J. Smith? These can be the same or different individuals.

Having three different ways of entering the same name would slow downtrend analysis and will severely impede any CSI initiative.

The inputs for this step will be:

  • New business requirements

  • Existing SLAs

  • Existing monitoring and data capture capability

  • Plans from other processes, e.g. Availability management and capacity management

  • The CSI register and existing SIP

  • Previous trend analysis reports

The Outputs for this step will be:

  • Updated availability and capacity plans

  • Monitoring procedures

  • Identified tools to use

  • Monitoring plan

  • Input on IT capability

  • Collection of data

  • Agreement on the integrity of the data

The next slide explains the fourth step: Process the data.

Wish to know more about ITIL Intermediate CSI? Consider taking a look at our Course Preview!

Step 4 - Process the data

Let us understand the fourth step: Process the data.

So for data processing, the Question is:

What do you actually do here?

And the Answer is:

Convert the data to the required format and for the required audience.

Follow the trail from metric to KPI to CSF, all the way back to the vision if necessary Once data is gathered, the next step is to process the data into the required format. Report-generating technologies are typically used at this stage as various amounts of data are condensed into information for use in the analysis activity.

The data is also typically put into a format that provides an end-to-end perspective on the overall performance of a service. This activity begins the transformation of raw data into packaged information. Use the information to develop insight into the performance of the service and/or processes.

Process the data into information (i.e. create logical groupings) which provides a better means to analyze the data – the next activity step in CSI. Processing the data is an important CSI activity that is often overlooked.

While monitoring and collecting data on a single infrastructure component is important, it is also important to understand that component’s impact on the larger infrastructure and IT service. Knowing that a server was up 99.99% of the time is one thing, knowing that no one could access the server is another.

An example of processing the data is taking the data from monitoring of the individual components such as the mainframe, applications, WAN, LAN, servers etc. And process this into a structure of an end-to-end service from the customer’s perspective.

The inputs for the fourth step will be:

  • Data collected through monitoring

  • Reporting requirements

  • SLAs

  • OLAs

  • Service Catalogue

  • List of metrics, KPI, CSF, objectives, and goals

  • Report frequency and

  • Report template

Outputs for the fourth step will be:

  • Updated availability and capacity plan

  • Reports

  • Logical groupings of data ready for analysis

Let us now move on to our next slide explains the fifth step: Analyze the information and data

Step 5 - Analyze the information and data

Your organization’s Service Desk has a trend of reduced call volumes consistently over the last four months. Even though this is a trend, you need to ask yourself the question: ‘Is this a good trend or a bad trend?’

You don’t know if the call reduction is because you have reduced the number of recurring errors in the infrastructure by good problem management activities or if the customers feel that the Service Desk doesn’t provide any value and they have started bypassing the Service Desk and going directly to second-level support groups.

Data analysis transforms the information into knowledge of the events that are affecting the organization. More skill and experience is required to perform data analysis than data gathering and processing. Verification of goals and objectives is expected during this activity. This verification validates that objectives are being supported and value is being added.

It is not sufficient to simply produce graphs of various types but to document the observations and conclusions.

So now the Question is: What do you actually analyze?

And the Answer is: Once the data is processed into information, you can then analyze the results, looking for answers to questions such as:

  • Are there any clear trends?

  • Are they positive or negative trends?

  • Are changes required?

  • Are we operating according to plan?

  • Are we meeting targets?

The inputs for the fifth step will be:

  • Monitored data

  • Existing KPIs and targets

  • Problem-solving techniques

  • The perception of customer satisfaction surveys etc

The Outputs for the fifth step will be:

  • Trends

  • Observations

  • Statistical analysis reports

  • Pareto distributions

  • Bottlenecks

  • Evaluation reports

Let us now move on to our next slide which explains the sixth step: Present and use the information.

Step 6 - Present and use the information

The sixth step is to take our knowledge and present it, that is, turn it into wisdom by utilizing reports, monitors, action plans, reviews, evaluations, and opportunities. Consider the target audience; make sure that you identify exceptions to the service, benefits that have been revealed, or can be expected. Data gathering occurs at the operational level of an organization.

Format this data into knowledge that all levels can appreciate and gain insight into their needs and expectations.

This stage involves presenting the information in a format that is understandable, at the right level, provides value, notes exceptions to service, identifies the benefits that were revealed during the time period, and allows those receiving the information to make strategic, tactical and operational decisions. In other words, presenting the information in the manner that makes it the most useful for the target audience.

 

The Inputs for the sixth step will be:

  • Collated data and information

  • Format details and templates etc.

  • Stakeholder contact details

And the Outputs for the sixth step will be:

  • Funding requirements

  • Presentation to key stakeholders

  • Gap analysis

  • Cost-benefit analysis

  • Service level achievements chart

  • SLAM chart (target met, target threatened, target breached)

Let us now move on to our next slide which explains the SLAM Chart example.

SLAM Chart example

A Service Level Agreement Monitoring Chart (SLAM) is used to help monitor and report achievements against Service Level Targets. A SLAM Chart is typically color coded to show whether each agreed Service Level Target has been met, missed, or nearly missed during each of the previous 12 months.

Example of SLAM Chart is as shown below:

Let us now move on to our next slide which explains the seventh step: Implement improvement.

Step 7 - Implement improvement

Now the seventh step is Implement improvement: Use the knowledge gained to optimize, improve and correct services. Managers need to identify issues and present solutions. Explain how the corrective actions to be taken will improve the service.

If organizations were implementing corrective action according to CSI, there would be no need for this publication. Corrective action is often done in reaction to a single event that caused a (severe) outage to part or all of the organization.

Other times, the squeaky wheel will get noticed and specific corrective action will be implemented in no relation to the priorities of the organization, thus taking valuable resources away from real emergencies. This is common practice but obviously not best practice.

Now let us see the Inputs for the seventh step which are listed below:

  • Firstly the Knowledge and wisdom gained from presenting and using the information

  • Gained Approval on agreed implementation plans

  • And A CSI register for those initiatives that have been initiated from other sources

Let us understand the Outputs for the seventh step which are listed below:

  • Action plans

  • Project plans

  • Initiatives

  • Change requests

Let us now move on to our next slide which explains the triggers, inputs, and outputs of the seven-step improvement process.

Triggers, Inputs, and Outputs of the Seven-Step Improvement Process

The triggers, inputs, and outputs of seven-step improvement process are discussed in this section.

Let us start with the triggers. The effective Triggers are:

  • Monitoring to identify improvement opportunities and it must be an ongoing process

  • New incentives may trigger additional measurement activities such as charging requirements, poor performance with a process

Many inputs and outputs to the process are documented in the steps such as:

  • Service Catalogue

  • SLRs

  • The service review meeting

  • Vision and mission statements

  • Governance requirements

  • Budget cycle

Let us now move on to our next slide which explains the Interfaces.

Interfaces

Interfaces are to support improvement activities it is important to have CSI integrated into each Lifecycle stage.

Service Strategy

Service Strategy is responsible for monitoring the progress of strategies, standards, policies and architectural decisions that have been made and implemented.

Service Design

Service Design monitors and gathers data associated with creating and modifying (design efforts) of services and service management processes.

This part of the service Lifecycle also measures the effectiveness and ability to measure CSFs and KPIs that were defined through gathering business requirements. Service Design also defines what should be measured.

This would include monitoring project schedules, progress to project milestones, and project results against goals and objectives. Service Transition develops the monitoring procedures and criteria to be used during and after implementation.

Service Transition

Service Transition monitors and gathers data on the actual release into the production of services and service management processes.

It is the responsibility of Service Transition to ensure that the services and service management processes are embedded in a way that can be managed and maintained according to the strategies and design efforts. Service transition develops the monitoring procedures and criteria to be used during and after implementation.

Service Operation

Service Operation is responsible for the actual monitoring of services in the production environment. Service Operation plays a large part in the processing activity. Service Operation provides input into what can be measured and processed into logical groupings as well as doing the actual processing of the data.

Service Operation would also be responsible for taking the component data and processing it in the format to provide a better end-to-end perspective on the service achievements. CSI receives the collected data as input in the remainder of CSI activities.

Let us now move on to our next slide which explains the Process involved in gathering and processing the data.

Process involved in gathering and processing the data

Service Level Management SLM plays a key role in the data gathering activity as SLM is responsible for not only defining business requirements but also IT’s capabilities to achieve them. The process involved in gathering and processing the data is listed below:

SLM

  • One of the first items in defining IT’s capabilities is to identify what monitoring and data collection activities are currently taking place

  • SLM then needs to look at what is happening with the monitoring data. Is the monitoring taking place only at a component level and, if so, is anyone looking at multiple components to provide an end-to-end service performance perspective?

  • SLM should also identify who gets the data, whether any analysis takes place on the data before it is presented, and if any trend evaluation is undertaken to understand the performance over a period of time. This information will be helpful in following CSI activities

Availability and Capacity Management

  • Provide significant input into existing monitoring and data collection capabilities, tool requirements to meet new data collection requirements and ensuring the Availability and Capacity Plans are updated to reflect new or modified monitoring and data collection requirements

  • Are accountable for the actual infrastructure monitoring and data collection activities that take place. Therefore roles and responsibilities need to be defined and the roles filled with properly skilled and trained staff

Incident Management and Service Desk

  • Incident Management can define monitoring requirements to support the event and incident detection through automation and also has the ability to automatically open incident tickets and/or auto-escalate incident tickets

  • Event and incident monitoring can identify abnormal situations and conditions which helps with predicting and pre-empting situations and conditions thereby avoiding possible service and component failures

Security Management

Security Management contributes to monitoring and data collection in the following manner:

  • Define security monitoring and data collection requirements. Monitor, verify and track the levels of security according to the organizational security policies and guidelines

  • Assist in determining the effects of security measures on the data monitoring and collection from the confidentiality (accessible only to those who should), integrity (data is accurate and not corrupted or not corruptible) and availability (data is available when needed) perspectives.

Financial Management

  • Financial Management is responsible for monitoring and collecting data associated with the actual expenditures vs. Budget and is able to provide input on questions such as: are costing or revenue targets on track? Financial Management should also monitor the ongoing cost per service etc.

  • In addition, the Financial Management will provide the necessary templates to assist CSI to create the budget and expenditure reports for the various improvement initiatives as well as providing the means to compute the ROI of the improvements.

Let us now move on to our next slide which explains the Process involved in analyzing the data Service Level Management

Process involved in analyzing the data

SLM supports the CSI process data activity in the following manner:

  • It Analyzes the Service Level Achievements compared to SLAs and service level targets that may be associated with the Service Catalogue

  • In SLM the Document and review trends over a period of time to identify any consistent patterns

  • SLM is responsible to Identify the need for service improvement plans

  • And to Identify the need to modify existing OLAs or UCs.

Availability and Capacity Management

  • Help to analyze and identify trends in component and service data

  • And Compare results with prior months, quarters or annual reports

  • They Identify the need for updating the need for improvement in gathering and processing data

  • And analyze the performance of components against defined technical specifications

  • Also, Document and review trends over a period of time to identify any consistent patterns

  • Both processes Identify the need for service improvement plans or corrective actions

  • And analyze process data for accuracy.

Incident Management and Service Desk

  • Document and review incident trends on incidents, Service Requests and telephony statistics over a period of time to identify any consistent patterns

  • They have to Compare results with prior months, quarters or annual reports

  • And also Compare results with agreed-to levels of service

  • Both processes have to Identify the need for service improvement plans or corrective actions

  • And analyze processed data for accuracy.

Problem Management

Problem Management plays a key role in the analysis activity as this process supports all the other processes with regards to trend identification and performing root cause analysis.

Problem Management is usually associated with reducing incidents, but a good Problem Management process is also involved in helping define process-related problems as well as those associated with services.

Overall, Problem Management seeks to:

  • Perform root cause investigation as to what is leading identified trends

  • Recommend improvement opportunities

  • Compare results with prior results

  • Compare results to agreed service levels.

Let us now move on to our next slide which explains the Process involved in presenting and using the information.

Willing to take up a course in ITIL Intermediate CSI? Check out our Course Preview!

Process involved in presenting and using the information

SLM presents information to the business and discusses the service achievements for the current time period as well as any longer trends that were identified. These discussions should also include information about what led to the results and any incremental or fine-tuning actions required.

Overall, SLM seeks to:

  • Conducts consistent service review meetings (internal and external)

  • And Supports the preparation of reports

  • It also Updates the SLA monitoring chart (SLAM)

  • And Provides input into prioritizing improvement activities.

Availability and Capacity Management

  • Supports preparation of the reports

  • Provides input into prioritizing SIP or corrective actions

  • Implements incremental or fine-tuning activities that do not require business approval.

Incident Management and Service Desk

  • Supports preparation of the reports

  • Provides input into prioritizing SIPs or corrective actions

  • Implements incremental or fine-tuning activities that do not require business approval.

Problem Management

  • Provides input into service improvement initiatives and prioritizes improvement initiatives

  • Information Security Management

  • Supports preparation of the reports

  • Provides input into prioritizing SIP or corrective actions

  • Implements incremental or fine-tuning activities that do not require business approval.

Let us now move on to our next slide which explains the Process involved in implementing improvements.

Process Involved In Implementing Improvement

Change Management

When CSI determines that an improvement to a service is warranted, an RFC must be submitted to Change Management. In turn, Change Management treats the RFC like any other RFC. The RFC is prioritized and categorized according to the policies and procedures defined in the Change Management process.

Release Management, as a part of Service Transition, is responsible for moving this change to the production environment. Once the change is implemented, CSI is part of the PIR to assess the success or failure of the change.

Representatives from CSI should be part of the CAB and the CAB/EC. Changes have an effect on service provision and may also affect other CSI initiatives. As part of the CAB and CAB/EC, CSI is in a better position to provide feedback and react to upcoming changes.

Service Level Management The SLM process often generates a good starting point for a service improvement plan (SIP) – and the service review process may drive this. SIP initiatives may also focus on such issues as training, system testing, and documentation.

In these cases, the relevant people need to be involved and adequate feedback given to make improvements for the future. At any time, a number of separate initiatives that form part of the SIP may be running in parallel to address difficulties with a number of services.

Some organizations have established an up-front annual budget held by SLM from which SIP initiatives can be funded. There may be an incremental improvement or large-scale improvement activities within each stage of the Service Lifecycle. As already mentioned, one of the activities IT management has to address is prioritization of service improvement opportunities.

Let us now move on to our next slide which explains the Critical success factors and key performance indicators.

Critical Success Factors And Key Performance Indicators

The opinions on this are varied. Some recommended that no more than two to three KPIs are defined per CSF at any given time and that a service or process has no more than two to three CSFs associated with it at any given time while others recommend upwards of four to five.

It is recommended that in the early stages of a CSI program only two to three KPIs for each CSF are defined, monitored and reported on. As the maturity of a service and service management processes increase, additional KPIs can be added.

Based on what is important to the business and IT management the KPIs may change over a period of time. The next step is to identify the metrics and measurements required to compute the KPI. There are two basic kinds of KPI, qualitative and quantitative.

Here is a qualitative example:

CSF - All improvement opportunities identified

KPI - Percentage improvements in defects. For example, 3% reduction in failed changes; 10% reduction in security breaches

CSF - The cost of providing services is reduced

KPI - Percentage decrease in overall cost of service provision. For example, 2.5% reduction in the average cost of handling an incident; 5% reduction in the cost of processing a particular type of transaction

Let us now move on to our next slide which explains the Challenges.

Challenges

The Challenges are:

  • In Getting the required resources to implement and run the process

  • In Gathering the right level of data and having the tools

  • The willingness of the IT organization to approach CSI in a consistent and structured way

  • Get commitment from management to approach it in a better way

  • Obtaining sufficient information from the business regarding improvement requirements and cost reduction

  • At times Persuading suppliers to include improvement in their contractual agreements

Let us now move on to our next slide which explains the Risks.

Risks

There are certain risks associated with the process. These risks can be:

  • No formalized approach to CSI and initiatives being taken on randomly in an ad-hoc manner

  • Insufficient monitoring and analysis to identify the areas of greatest need

  • Staff attitude such as ‘We have always done it this way and it has always good enough’

  • Inability to make the business case for improvement and therefore no funding for improvement or loss of ownership

  • Lack of ownership or loss of ownership

  • Too much focus on IT improvements without a clear understanding of business needs and objectives

Conclusion

In this lesson, we learned about the interpretation and analysis of improvement principles, techniques, and relationships, and their application to ensure continual service improvement. We also studied the seven-step improvement process and how each step can be applied and the benefits produced.

The next lesson talks about CSI Methods and Techniques.

  • Disclaimer
  • PMP, PMI, PMBOK, CAPM, PgMP, PfMP, ACP, PBA, RMP, SP, and OPM3 are registered marks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.

Request more information

For individuals
For business
Name*
Email*
Phone Number*
Your Message (Optional)
We are looking into your query.
Our consultants will get in touch with you soon.

A Simplilearn representative will get back to you in one business day.

First Name*
Last Name*
Email*
Phone Number*
Company*
Job Title*