Well, it’s been almost a year since my last blog on continual service improvement (CSI), and I really do hope you’ve already passed the getting started phase, but if not – it’s never too late. The very first step I talked about in that blog is writing down a list of what you would like to improve. ITIL® formalizes this list of improvement ideas into what’s called a CSI register, and I want to focus in my blog here on what is needed to keep that register useful.
The CSI register was something new in ITIL V3 but the idea behind it is simple enough: capture all the possible ways that things could be better and choose which ones to actively pursue. It’s a valuable tool, but too often it’s seen as something to be created and then used up – like a project. In fact CSI’s 7-step improvement process can reinforce that idea. We run the 7-step process to generate ideas; that gives us the CSI register, and then we analyze and prioritize those ideas, decide which ones to implement and – hey presto, the magic works – things get better.
“The harder I practice, the luckier I get.”
– Gary Player, professional golfer
At the core of DevOps is learning. And DevOps stands on the shoulders of many giants, with one of those giants being the Toyota Way from which DevOps borrows concepts such as Kata, which helps people, teams, and organizations to improve, adapt, innovate, and achieve whatever they set out to do.
A service level agreement, commonly known as an SLA, is an agreement that outlines the expectations of both sides in a service provider-customer relationship. Importantly for service providers, it’s one of the most effective ways to manage customer expectations and, in turn, your relationship with the customer.
Yet it’s not uncommon for IT professionals not to use them within their IT organization as they don’t know they exist, how valuable they are, and above all else how to create and use them.
So let me take you on a whistle-stop tour of SLAs to help you to better understand what they are and to realize their value to you as an IT service management (ITSM) professional. Then I’ll finish up by sharing some quick tips that will help to make them a reality in your business.
IT service management (ITSM) is constantly evolving, and over the 20 or so years that the term has been in common use, the scope has grown and spread considerably. The initial tight operational focus of the early ITIL® days has spread to address strategy and design as mainstream ITSM topics. Ongoing efforts are being made to combine ITIL with initiatives like DevOps to strengthen and broaden the value delivered to organizations.
This is all good stuff, and proper progress; but now and again it is good to recall that this brave new world must be built on solid ITSM foundations. Despite (or maybe because of) the years of progress, we need to make sure we get those basics right, so it is worthwhile looking back at some original concepts and confirm we still use them as a basis for our core ITSM approach.
The heart of any IT service management (ITSM) program is the need to add value to business operations – to make the business more effective and efficient, and a better proposition and experience for the customer. And all this needs to be done through the best use of technology and the services built around it.
But people capabilities, and actions, are involved in service delivery too and it thus stands to reason that a core activity for any ITSM practitioner is to know how they, and the team they work in, add business value. This not only better propels the ITSM value proposition outwards, to business colleagues, but also inwards to the IT department in terms of the required capabilities of all ITSM pros.
Of course the required capabilities might be different across companies and their IT organizations, but here, in this blog, I list for you seven core capabilities, and the associated activities, that you as an ITSM practitioner should be delivering against, in order to add business value.