Are you practicing continual service improvement?

IT executives who aren’t progressing are regressing

Shortly after Peregrine Systems joined HP, I was given the honor of being tapped as a reviewer for the third version of ITIL’s Service Strategy book. Two things really surprised me about ITIL Version 3: the emphasis on business service and the whole notion of “continual service improvement.” Continual improvement surprised me because so many of the IT organizations that I had worked with were, in fact, not showing improvement in their IT organizations’ people, processes, and technology. The truth is, most were good at establishing processes, but that was as far as things went—shockingly, not much improvement was taking place.

 

Seeing the forest for the trees of service management

But with a service orientation, the quality of service management and delivery is more exposed. While many organizations have some form of operational reports, real and substantive process improvement is still not taking place—even though customers are now taking notice, as their service requirements become more sophisticated. One CIO, who was evaluating new service management solutions, blamed vendors by saying, “They tell us how much we are going to save and present compelling ROI models, but none tell us how to get there.”

 

I want to suggest that improvement has been hobbled because IT organizations cannot see the forest for the trees. Looking at the trees is operational reporting, but for continual improvement, two things must be done differently. The first is the ability to measure key performance indicators (KPIs), and the second is setting concrete improvement goals against which you can measure each KPI. Armed with this, service management leaders can determine their performance gaps by tracking performance against indicators over time across various dimensions—in the case of incidents, incident type, organization, time of month; the list goes on. ITIL Version 3.0 specifically recommends that KPIs should be put into a balanced scorecard, so IT can prove to itself and business management that it is, in fact, improving.

 

ITSM key performance indicators

What would be on my list of ITSM key performance indicators? I would obviously look at aggregate performance over time for service delivery—availability, downtime, performance, etc. But I would also select leading indicators for all three. This would include things such as change success rate, patch success rate, emergency changes, and so forth.

 

Each of the IT processes within ITSM should have KPIs of service delivery—service desk, incident, problem, change, configuration, and service-level management. Clearly, these should be focused on the delivery of service availability and performance. Here are a few suggestions for each category:

  • Service desk/request—first call resolution, incident aging, mean time for handling each type of service request
  • Incident—percentage of incidents resolved within agreed-on period of time, percentage of reopened incidents, mean time between failures
  • Problem—decrease in the number of recurring incidents, percentage of major incidents for which problems were logged, percentage of problems resolved by due date
  • Change—percentage of emergency changes, change success rate, percentage of unauthorized changes, rework cause by failed changes, age of backlogged change requests
  • Configuration—number of deviations between the configuration repository and live configuration, number of discrepancies relating to incomplete or missing configuration information
  • Service-Level Management—percentage of availability of service, percentage of met service performance, percentage of met SLAs

 

Changing course

The questions for you as an ITSM leader are: “Are you ready to move your service management to drive substantive improvement? Are you ready to set concrete goals that drive real improvement?” If you are, then concrete process improvement goals can be found in ITIL Version 3.0 and COBIT 5.0. All that is missing is your leadership, measurement, and goal setting.

 

Related links: 4 reasons COBIT 5 should be part of your IT strategy

The 3 stages of analytics maturity

Solution page: IT Performance Management

Twitter: @MylesSuer

Tags: IT Service Management, KPIs, Balanced Scorecard

 

Label: Service management

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About the Author
Mr. Suer is a senior manager for IT Performance Management. Prior to this role, Mr. Suer headed IT Performance Management Analytics Product ...


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