Continual Improvement

Improvements to processes and services are motivated by the need to increase value and stakeholder satisfaction while optimizing risk. Many organizations realize their existing services or processes are not performing as desired. Many know this intuitively, but few have data to back up their intuitions.

Such organizations frequently initiate a project in order to implement a new service or process or to improve an existing one. This can be effective, but often what they lack is a structured approach to scope efforts for the most benefit, to articulate success, determine how to achieve it, and measure whether they achieved it.

Continual Improvement

We deliver Continual Improvement using a pragmatic and experienced approach.

  1. Identify the Target: First organizations must identify the mission and strategy in the contexts around the services and processes. Organizations can usually manage 1-2 improvement efforts simultaneously. Often the most difficult task is to identify the scope of improvement effort, among the 26 processes of ITIL®, the 38 processes of COBIT5®, or 50 to 100 services identified in the Service Catalog. The COBIT5 Goals Cascade can frequently narrow the scope, though its method ignores services.
  2. Identify the Drivers: For processes and services, means understanding what is motivating the focus on this particular process or service targeted by the improvement effort. Drivers are usually stated in both quantitative and qualitative terms.
  3. Identify Current State: All documentation and metrics surrounding the performance of the process or service are identified, collected and analyzed in this step. In practice it is often performed simultaneously with the previous step.
  4. Determine Improvement Actions: The appropriate stakeholders are gathered and interviewed. The process or service owner articulates specific goals based on the drivers and determines what improvements should be made in order to achieve the improvement goals. This step also includes the authorization of activities.
  5. Implement Improvements: The service or process owner and associated stakeholders update the policies, procedures, work instructions, automation tools, and report configurations as necessary in order to carry out the improvement actions and produce measurable results.
  6. Measure and Sustain: Although routine evaluation of reports is part of normal operations, the Continual Improvement process seeks to ensure that measurable results can be and are successfully implemented. In addition, tools of organizational change management may be invoked in order to ensure that updated processes and procedures are sustained.

Variations of the Deming Cycle of Plan, Do, Check, and Act that adopt these basic themes are acceptable. We do not actively encourage the use of process maturity frameworks. While these may be useful in Identify Current State and Determine Improvement Actions, the measurements they produce do not map cleanly to those associated with value, stakeholder satisfaction, or management of risk.

ITIL® is a registered trademark of AXELOS Limited.
COBIT® is a Registered Trade Mark of the Information Systems Audit and Control Association and the IT Governance Institute.