3 Essential Elements for Continual Service Improvement
“How do we get better?” This is a question that every IT manager should be asking his or her staff on a regular basis. If you keep doing things the same way, you will become surpassed by technology and, even worse, your competitors. Continual Service Improvement is one of the tenets of ITIL and needs to be an integral part of any service organization. In this post, 3 essential elements of any Continual Service Improvement program will be covered. In future posts, each of these elements will be explored further.
Essential Elements of Continual Service Improvement:
- Solicit Feedback
- Document Feedback
- Review and Act on Feedback
Solicit Feedback: An organization must ask for feedback and then ensure that they are listening to that feedback. There are many ways that organization can solicit feedback and it can be both internal and external. Everyone in the process needs to be heard – from the account manager to the engineer to the client to project manager and everyone in between. The methods for garnering this feedback can be widely varied. There are follow up phone calls, focus groups, surveys, lessons learned sessions, ad hoc conversations amongst team members, etc. An organization can also use a combination of techniques such as sending out a survey and following up with phone calls to clarify results. Whatever technique used to solicit feedback, it must be properly communicated and executed to get proper results.
Document Feedback: A lot of really good feedback can be communicated about the service being provided, but without properly documenting that feedback, it is useless. Documentation comes in several forms. Gathering and documenting raw data is pretty common. Then, the raw data must be collated and formatted so that it can be analyzed and acted upon. For example, data may be gathered on a particular piece of hardware. That hardware may have had multiple failures and his been reported via monitoring systems, surveys, and engineer feedback. All of this data needs to be properly documented in order to trace back a root cause to the hardware. If the documentation stopped here, it would fall short. There also needs to be documented a recommended solution and whether it was acted upon. Another form of documentation is the knowledge base. This needs to be used properly as part of the documentation set in Continual Service Improvement. As a matter fact this is really the bridge until a permanent change can be put in place.
Proper Review: An organization can ask for all the right feedback, write up the best documentation ever seen and still fall on its face in Continual Service Improvement if a proper review process is not in place. This can take several forms as well. It can be as simple as a gathering of a small committee that reviews the documentation and program as whole and then makes changes based on what is found. It could be an escalation process within the management chain that results in effective change. It can even be brought down to the tactical level by providing an engineer the autonomy to correct a poor process on the fly and then report back the results. Each of these methods have a mix of structure and flexibility. It can even be a mix of these methods depending on the change threshold. The method chosen will be as the result of the effectiveness that each organization wants to get out of its Continual Service Improvement program.
Every company, organization, person makes mistakes. It’s going to happen. It’s how you learn from them that makes the big difference. With that being said, it’s never enough for an organization to just say it has a Continual Service Improvement program. It must make it effective by soliciting, documenting, and reviewing feedback time and time again.
A proven leader, Jeremy Niedzwiecki has over 20 years in the IT industry. As the Director of Customer Support at ABS, Jeremy works to ensure that the ABS Customer Support team continuously provides the highest levels of support possible ABS clients.