ITIL - Key Principles and Models Tutorial

Welcome to the fourteenth chapter of the ITIL Foundation tutorial (part of the ITIL® Foundation Certification Training). This lesson covers the key principles and models related to Continual Service Improvement or CSI.


After completing this lesson, you will be able to:

  • Describe the key concepts and principles related to CSI

  • Explain the seven-step improvement process

  • Explain the model behind continual service improvement

CSI and Organisational Change

We will now focus on the importance of organizational change in continual service improvement.

Planning for continual improvement as a permanent part of the organizational culture requires changes in the organization. Organizational changes present their own people-related challenges such as resistance to change, gaining commitment, empowering, motivating, involving and communicating.

Addressing these challenges and getting consent from all stakeholders is critical to the success of any CSI initiative. Implementing John P. Kotter’s eight steps to transforming your organization with formal project management skills will lead to the success of a CSI programme.

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CSI Register

Let us now discuss the benefits of a CSI Register.

Once the CSI areas are identified, it is recommended to maintain a CSI register. This register records all the improvement opportunities. Each improvement opportunity should be categorized based on complexity and size. The CSI Manager is accountable and responsible for this register.

The benefits of the CSI Register are as follows:

  • It contains important information for the overall service provider and is a critical part of Service Knowledge Management System or SKMS.

  • It helps to capture and record all service improvement related initiatives. The initiatives are monitored through the CSI register to ensure that the benefits are realized.

  • It provides a coordinated and consistent view of various improvement initiatives.

The image below illustrates a sample CSI register.

csi register

Service Measurement

We will now focus on Service Measurement. Predicting and reporting service performance against targets is called Service Measurement.

Data collection, trend analysis, and service reporting should be performed to carry out Service Measurement.

To enable service measurement, data is collected from the individual measurements and combined to provide a view of the customer experience. Data is analyzed over a period of time to produce a trend. Data can be collected at multiple levels, for example, configuration items, components, processes, and services.

CSI Monitor and Measure

Measurement of all process metrics takes place throughout the lifecycle phases. CSI uses the results from all process metrics to identify and establish improvements through reports.

There are four primary reasons to monitor and measure CSI.

These reasons are to:

  • Validate

  • Direct

  • Justify

  • Intervene


Validate helps to answer the question, “Are we supporting the strategy and vision?”


Direct refers to monitoring and measuring the set metrics for activities to meet the set targets.


Justify refers to monitoring and measuring with functional evidence or proof to get a required course of action.


Intervene refers to taking corrective actions such as identifying improvement and opportunities.

reasons to use monitor and metrics

The image given above illustrates various reasons to use monitor and metrics.

Types of Metrics

Let us now focus on the types of metrics.

Metrics constitute a standard of measurement that can be used to help manage a process, IT service or activity. Metrics are defined to measure efficiency and effectiveness of the process or activity.

There are three types of metrics that an organization needs to support. These are technology, process and service metrics.

Technology metrics

Technology metrics are often associated with the component and application-based metrics such as performance and availability. The various design architects and technical specialists are responsible for defining the technology metrics.

Process metrics

Process metrics are captured in the form of Critical Success Factors or CSFs, Key Performance Indicators or KPIs and activity metrics for ITSM processes. KPIs can help in answering issues related to quality, performance, value, and compliance. CSI uses process metrics to identify improvement opportunities for each process.

Service metrics

Service metrics are the results of end-to-end service. Component metrics are used to calculate the service metrics. Service level managers and service owners are responsible for defining the appropriate service metrics. Metrics supply quantitative data.

CSI transforms the data into qualitative information through analysis and reporting. When combined with experience, context, interpretation, and reflection, this information becomes knowledge.

DIKW model

The CSI improvement process focuses on the acquirement of wisdom, which is being able to make the correct assessments and decisions. Such assessments and decisions are made by using data, information, and knowledge in the best possible way.

This is called the Data-Information-Knowledge-Wisdom or DIKW model, which is discussed in the Knowledge Management Lesson of the unit on service transition.

CSI - Measurement and Metrics

CSI measurement and metrics consist of Critical Success Factors, Key Performance Indicators, and baselines. CSF and KPI are process metrics used to identify improvement opportunities for each process. Whereas, a baseline is used as a reference point for later comparison.

CSF and KPI-Examples

A few examples of CSFs and KPIs of CSI are given. Read the examples carefully so that you are able to understand them.

Example 1

  • 3% reduction in failed changes; 10% reduction in security breaches

  • CSF: All improvement opportunities identified

  • KPI: Percentage improvement in defects

Example 2

  • 2.5% reduction in the average cost of handling an incident; 5% reduction in the cost of processing a particular type of transaction

  • CSF: The cost of providing services is reduced

  • KPI: Percentage decrease in overall cost of service provision

CSI: PDCA-Deming Cycle

Let us now discuss the PDCA—Deming Cycle. W. Edwards Deming designed the PDCA or Plan Do Check and Act model and suggested four key stages of improvement.

The four stages of the PDCA model are as follows:

Plan: This stage establishes the objectives and processes required to deliver results in accordance with the customer needs and the organization's policies.

Do: This stage implements the processes.

Check: This stage monitor and measures processes and products against policies, objectives, and requirements. It also reports the results obtained.

Act: This stage performs actions to improve the process performance continuously.

The example below helps you in better understanding of the implementation of the PDCA model.

pdca-csi example

Seven-Step Improvement Process-Overview

Now we will focus on an overview of the seven-step improvement process.

The purpose of the seven-step improvement process is to define and manage the steps needed to identify, define, gather, process, analyze, present and implement improvements.

The objectives of the seven-step improvement process are to:

  • Identify opportunities for improving services, processes, tools and so on; •reduce the cost of providing the services, and ensure that IT services help to achieve the required business outcomes.

  • Identify what needs to be measured, analyzed and reported to establish improvement opportunities.

  • Review service achievements to ensure they match the business requirements, thereby aligning service provision with outcome requirements continually.

  • Understand what to measure and why it is being measured, and define the successful outcome carefully.

Seven-Step Improvement Process - Scope

The scope of the seven-step improvement process is to:

  • Analyze the performance and capabilities of services, processes throughout the lifecycle, patterns, and technology.

  • Align the portfolio of IT services with the current and future business needs as well as the maturity of the enabling IT processes for each service.

  • Use the technology that the organization has and exploit new technology as it becomes available where there is a business case for doing so.

  • Assess the organizational structure and the capabilities of the personnel.

  • Ask whether people are working in appropriate functions and roles and whether they have the required skills.

Seven-Step DIKW Model

Let us now discuss the seven-step DIKW model.

This model is a derivative of the PDCA cycle.

Following are the seven steps involved in the DIKW model:

Step 1

Identify the strategy for the overall vision, business need and tactical and operational goals.

Step 2

Define what is to be measured. The service strategy and design help to identify this information early in the life cycle.

Step 3

Gather the data from different sources based on the objectives identified. At this point, the data is raw and no conclusions are drawn.

Step 4

Process the data in alignment with the Critical Success Factors and Key Performance Indicators specified. In addition, coordinate the timeframes, and reorganize unaligned data to make it consistent. In this step, you should also identify gaps in the data.

Step 5

Analyze the information and data. In this step, useful information evolves from raw data.

Step 6

Present and use the information details according to the types of audience such as customers, senior IT management, internal IT, and suppliers.

Step 7

Implement the improvements. Use the knowledge gained to optimize, improve and correct services and processes. This helps to provide solutions to identified issues.

seven step dikw model

The image given above illustrates the Seven-step DIKW model.

CSI Model

Now we will focus on the CSI model.

This model provides the basis for improvement of services and capabilities of an IT service provider.

There are questions asked frequently to ensure all the important elements are recognized for achieving continual improvement. These questions require close interactions with all other ITIL® processes to achieve Continual Service Improvement.

The image given below shows a CSI model.

csi model

Let us now see how the model relates to other phases of the service lifecycle.

The CIS model includes the following questions and answers:

What is the vision for CSI?

This is derived from the business vision, mission objectives and goals as reflected in the service strategy and service portfolio.

For example, a company’s vision can be its willingness to achieve 95% customer satisfaction.

Where are we now?

It provides the answer to the analysis of the current position of the business in terms of service portfolios, service level management, and financial management for IT.

For example, the company or the business has achieved 44% customer satisfaction.

Where do we want to be?

It provides the answer to specific goals and manageable timeframes. For example, the company or the business wants to achieve 65% as a practical target.

How do we get there?

It answers the question of how to achieve high-quality services using CSI and all ITIL® processes, for example, by implementing process improvements.

Did we get there?

It answers whether the measurements and metrics were in place and whether the business objectives were met. For example, by measuring the improvement, the company can find out if they have achieved their vision.

How do we keep the momentum going?

Continual Service Improvement ties the whole lifecycle in a loop. It has to keep the motivation up and continue the same to ensure that the momentum of the life cycle is maintained.

The example given below explains a process to help you understand the overall approach of CSI.

csi overall approach example

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Let us summarize what we have learned in this lesson:

  • There are three types of metrics –technology, process, and service.

  • CSI measurement and metrics consist of Critical Success Factors, Key Performance Indicators, and Baselines.

  • The PDCA (Plan Do Check and Act) Model suggests the stages of improvement.

  • The purpose of the seven-step improvement process is to define and manage the steps required for improvement.

  • The CSI Model provides the basis for improvement of services and capabilities of an IT Service Provider.


With this, we have come to the end of this course.

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

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