Are You Feeding and Caring for Your CSI Register?
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.
CSI Shouldn’t Be a Project
The word “continual” is important here – meaning that CSI is never over. No matter how much improvement has been achieved, there is still scope, and need, for more. Of course, if you’ve built a CSI register where none existed before (and congratulations if you have done that), then it will have felt like a project, and you will be rightly proud of what you have built. But once you have that CSI register you’ll find you need to look after it; it needs:
- Feeding. You’ll soon discover a voracious need for more new improvement ideas. Without an ongoing source of ideas the register will shrink in size and value.
- Care and cleaning. As improvement ideas are accepted or rejected, they’ll need to leave the current register. It’s important to understand that the ideas listed are reflecting the technical and business environment at the time they are thought of. Those environments change and so each idea should continually be reviewed and updated.
If that sounds like looking after your pet at home, then no surprise, the same logic applies. In both cases you need to add nutrition and take away the waste. And you have to keep it healthy with regular check-ups.
The 7-step improvement process provides a grand principle for generating an initial rush of ideas, or perhaps, even, a major refresh. But a powerful route to genuine continual improvement is the matching, continual capture, and consideration of improvement ideas. In just about every organization, the staff will have ideas about how things could and should change for the better, as will the customers and other stakeholders. Unfortunately most of these ideas are never captured, and that is the key trick here – to expand your CSI procedures to cover capturing ideas on an ongoing basis. Detailing how to do that could be a blog in itself, but includes techniques like staff-suggestion, discussion groups, incident and problem reviews, and more. But the message remains: the CSI is a forever thing – keep feeding it to keep getting the benefits.
Care and Cleaning
Entries in the CSI register are categorized according to a range of factors. Typically these might include:
- Speed to implement
- Speed to deliver returns
- Scale of return/degree of business benefit
- Difficulty – technical, procedural, and in selling the idea to business or staff
- Political impact – is there an obvious champion, does it meet CEO, CIO or CFO’s personal preferences, etc.?
All of the factors will change over time – some with frightening speed these days. That means every one of the ideas in your CSI register needs to be reconsidered frequently. I suggest you regularly schedule time for reviews where you (and your colleagues) can consider a range of aspects for each item listed, such as:
- Are the basics still valid? Are the costs, ease, and timeframes, which were set out when first captured, still relevant now?
- Has the idea moved in the desirable spectrum – the one that ranges from might be nice through to absolutely must have?
- Has senior management changed (in personnel or attitude), meaning the idea now has more or less political weight?
- Has the technological feasibility changed?
- If it depends on or influences other stakeholders, has their situation changed enough to affect the desirability of this idea?
Of course this means someone has to do it, which costs time and money, but the organization will find it worthwhile. Effort spend wisely on this task should repay many times over in keeping improvement ideas practical and relevant.
Keep It Healthy
You need to treat your CSI register like a family pet – look after it, care for it, and it will reward you. Seeing it as a do-it-once task to deliver one set of benefits is missing the point and the key word in CSI, i.e continual.
Bottom line: continual benefits of a CSI register are available, but, just as in most aspects of life, they require continual effort to realize them.
Posted by Joe the IT Guy