Continual Service Improvement
The primary goal of the continual service improvement phase of the service lifecycle is continually realigning IT services to changing business needs in order to add value to the enterprise. A secondary goal is continually identifying and implementing process improvements. This phase applies to all of the other four phases of the IT service management lifecycle, and consists of a single seven-step improvement process, which is new in ITIL version 3:
- Define what you should measure. In this step, consider service level requirements and targets, critical success factors, corporate goals and objectives, and regulatory agency needs.
- Define what you can measure. Make note of measurement tools that are already in place, and consider those that can be used without extensive customization.
- Gather the data. Collect three types of data: service, process and technology. Utilize the SMART attributes (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, timely).
- Process the data. The actions in this step include converting the collected data into the required formats for the tools that process it and the audience that will use it.
- Analyze the data. The technique I find most effective for analyzing any type of performance and improvement data is to look for trends, patterns, and relationships. ITIL version 3 recommends a similar technique to identify areas for process improvements and to estimate the costs of implementation.
- Present and use the data. There are usually three distinct target audiences that will use this data: business users and customers, senior IT management, and IT support groups.
- Implement corrective actions. In this step, the knowledge acquired from the analysis and presentation of the data is used to determine which improvement actions will be implemented, and in what order.