Hello again. In my last article we discussed where to get started on the journey of improving service delivery. We concluded that in order to start we need data from a myriad of different processes and operations that will allow us to focus in on where problems may exist and fix them at root cause rather than forever treating symptoms.
So how do we do that?
First things first – have you got that data? Assuming so, you need to analyse it.
The wider the variety of data sets you analyse the richer the variety of perspectives you’ll get, so make sure you can slice and dice the data in many different ways. Perform incident trend analysis to find out what types of incidents you experience the most, from which infrastructure components, applications or communities of users. Study the detail behind SLAs and KPIs to work out if there is a pattern behind the ones you fail on or struggle with – it may be certain times of the day where you’re understaffed or certain types of call where you lack skills. Review your Customer Satisfaction levels to find out what they like the most and the least about the services you deliver. Assess system and network performance metrics to work out when and where bottlenecks occur.
And while all of this analysis is interesting, don’t forget the most important thing – you need to work out WHY you are getting these results.
The root cause behind the issues is usually a “people”, “process” or “technology” issue – or (in most cases) a combination of all three. Are you understaffed or under-skilled? Is the technology old? Too many single points of failure in the architecture? Are processes undocumented, outdated or inefficient? You need to work your way through the results of your analysis and make sure you’re clear as to the reasons behind the failures.
So now we’ve got an understanding of what’s wrong and the underlying root causes, how do we go about fixing it?
Rather than trying to fix the world in one go, you need to select a handful of areas to focus on first. What is giving you and your customers the most pain? Are there quick win opportunities which will help build momentum and stakeholder buy-in? What improvements will give you the biggest results? The answers to these questions will help determine priorities and give shape to the improvement programme, from which you can build your Continuous Service Improvement Plan (CSIP).
You then need to approach making the changes in a controlled and methodical way…the last thing anyone wants is chaos, disruption and service degradation as a consequence of well-intentioned but badly executed changes.
Tackle each change like a project – make sure it has a start, middle and finish; that it’s subject to governance; and that stakeholders are properly engaged and communicated with.
Make sure that when planning the actual change you have clearly defined measures of success – what was are today’s performance levels and what level of performance are you expecting when the change has been implemented. Without these it’s impossible to determine if you’ve been successful and (almost as importantly) to convince those either on the periphery of, or standing against, the improvement programme that the efforts are worthwhile.
Also make sure you know how you’re going to test and implement the change – and what you’re going to do in the event that you run into problems…are you able to back out and revert to your current state, or will you need to plough-on until you achieve success? What support do you need from internal and external parties to make sure everything is alright on the night?
Having done all of this, you are now ready to start making changes. In my next article we’ll share some of our experiences of implementing change in Service Delivery environments. Meanwhile if you’d like to discuss any aspect of this article, or any other IT-related issue, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org