Ensuring Service Management Stays Effective

Delivering excellent service to our customers is a priority for many of us. From a service management perspective part of that requires us to review how we provide that service through continual improvement initiatives. The first step for us is to look at where we are today and ask the question "Do we have a strategy to help us further establish service management. 

Established Service Management Program

First you may need to define what “established” really means. This indicates that we are performing several processes which are accepted by IT and the processes have been documented and communicated through some level of training. Each process has an identified owner whose goal is to leverage the process to reach targets set forth to improve the delivery of service to align with business outcomes. Where possible this process may be automated through some form of tool, however the later can only be achieved when the process has reached a reasonable degree of maturity. Remember the tools are only that, they will simply help you streamline what you already have.

If you are still thinking that you have fairly mature processes, start thinking about what the output processes look like. For example once we have a solid incident management process how does that relate to proactive activities such as problem, or event management. Where do things like knowledge come into play to further improve the delivery of services, for example.

It is crucial to remember that this initial look shouldn’t be done alone. Solicit information from several sources. How are these processes improving the operations teams, have you spoken with your service delivery or business relationship managers to see what service improvements these processes are producing. You may find that there are several items to improve in the larger scheme of things. The key is to keep it simple and target the items that will align to the IT and business objectives.

The ‘not so’ established service management program

You are thinking to yourself, “OK, I know we aren’t that established but we are doing some things”. The main difference between the two is the ability to do the processes without much thought. These processes are meant to guide us, so if we spend more time trying to figure out the process as compared to the actual work we are probably on the lower end of the maturity scale. Some key indicators of this is that there are inconsistencies in the way we perform work, people are doing things differently even when they are on the same teams. At the end of the day the delivery of service is happening but how we get there may be the winding trail. There is nothing wrong with that, after all you need to walk before you can run. The first step identifies that you need to make improvements and then actually do just that.

How do I do that?

First at the fundamental level, you should have an identified process owner. In the beginning you may only have one person who might be accountable and responsible to the process, but determine who that is and communicate that information to those who will be impacted by this information. Once you have identified the ‘who’ you need to be able to identify the ‘what’. The process owner should be able to outline how the process works. Sharing the inner working of the process may require training, and a place where people can revisit and review the training or process documentation. This is why keeping it simple is important.

Think of it this way, training someone to build a chair from scratch can be complex and take some finely tuned skills. Building a chair from a store with an Allen key has a consistent process which is simple to understand. Either way the end result is ‘something to sit on’ which is a start.

After this has been established you need to continually review the process to ensure that it is working the way it was envisioned and when there are challenges, as there likely will be, you make the needed adjustments.

It is the act of keeping it simple that I can’t stress enough, doing this will allow your processes to grow over time and will keep them scalable for later iterations of improvement.
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