GSX Blog

ITIL for your Messaging and Collaboration environment (Part 6: Continual Service Improvement)

Posted by Carl Drechsel on Thu, Mar 15, 2012


ITIL wouldn’t be complete without a built-in process for continually improving upon each component.  As a result the authors of ITIL included Continual Service Improvement as one of the five core processes for efficient IT Service Management. In this post I am going to give an overall introduction to Continual Service Improvement (CSI) and what you can do today to improve how you manage overall operations in your Messaging and Collaboration environment. The overall goal of CSI is to ensure that each component of your ITIL deployment is continuously improved resulting in greater quality and resource efficiencies. Let’s take a look at the main activities of CSI.

Continual Service Improvement in ITIL follows the CSI Improvement Model which has five basic steps.

Step 1 – What is the Vision? 

What is your goal? What is the ideal scenario? When considering the vision for Continual Service Improvement it is important to ensure that you are aligning with the visions, goals and objectives of the business entities your services support.

Step 2 – Where are we now? 

In order to answer this question we need to have specific, measurable information about the performance of not only your IT systems but your processes, procedures and projects. Detailed information needs to be available to understand exactly where you are and what it takes to reach your groups and organizations goals.

Step 3 – Where do we want to be?  

In this step you need to be setting realistic targets for availability, performance, efficiency, and costs; whatever your goal is you need to set and objective that has a measurable metric. This allows your organization for track and trend Service Improvement.  When setting these goals you should again align or mirror the goals of the business unit you support.

Step 4 – How do we get there?  

At this point you need to be creating a plan that is going to take you from your current situation to your goal situation.  Typically from an ITIL perspective a project approach should be taken, identifying a well-defined set of deliverables.

Step 5 – Did we get there?  

As the name of this step suggests, this is where you need to measure your performance against the objectives you identified. If yes, excellent, time to move on to the next CSI objective. If not, determine where the process was deficient, reassess your goals and, if applicable, step through the CSI model until resolved.


Now let’s see how you can improve your overall processes to make them more efficient and more valuable – There are 7 steps to consider:

Define what should be measured

As we did with our experience in Service Strategy and Service design, the CSI Improvement Model requires that you reexamine this information to determine what key metrics are important to our organization.

Define what you can measure

What should be measured and what can be measured are often two different things. In this case after you define what should be measured ideally needs to be examined further to provide what we can actually measure.  A gap analysis should be performed and any gaps should be minimized though risk mitigation.

Gather the data

Once we identify what you need to measure you need to collect the data, in the case of customer satisfaction, perhaps we get that information through Service Operation, by examining metrics from the service desk. Regardless of you CSI target your data collection methods need to have a quality source and consistent information.

Process the data

At this point we can take the data we collected, analyze its contents for alignment with your previously defined data collection objectives and determine if the data is consistent, eliminating any data that has gaps.

Analyze the data

The information we’ve gathered and processed is now analyzed to identify any areas that we as an organization have missed our internal or external objectives.  It is important to review the information carefully in order to ensure that we have a complete picture of the current situation before we present the findings.

Presenting and using the information

Presenting the findings of your previous activities to the appropriate stakeholders in a manner that is consistent with their needs will allow decision makers to determine the next steps. In order to ensure the value of the information provided it is critical to present the information thoroughly and free of bias.

Implementing corrective action

If you’re at this step we found that you have a gap or inadequacy in your process, procedure or service.  You need to make use of the knowledge gained to optimize and improve your solutions. The corrective action begins and the details are communicated to the rest of the organization. Once complete the process cycle starts again.

In this post I’ve provided an overview of the Continual Service Improvement lifecycle and outlined a couple of the tools that can be used to ensure that your organization stays on the right track with your ITIL initiatives.   It is important to remember that CSI is not an action to be taken at the end of a project or solution delivery, it is a process that is intended to be a part of each and every component of the ITIL framework. If we apply this philosophy to your Messaging and Collaboration organization you can expect to not only increase your service level but also improve your efficiency, reduce costs and improve resource utilization.

Over the last couple of months I’ve posted an article on each of the main processes associated with the ITIL framework. I’d like to get some feedback from the IT community on what your experiences have been with ITIL and implementing or deploying the framework into your organization.  Have you had a chance to apply any of the methods I’ve covered into your organization? If so, how have things been working? Is there anything you’d like to see me cover, review or go further in depth on?

Next week I’m going to post a summary of what we’ve covered so far, if you have any questions please comment on this article and I will address them in that post.  Also, we’re planning on creating a whitepaper around this topic so stay tuned for that as well.


Tags: Collaboration, ITIL, sla, Service Delivery, Lotus Domino Monitoring, Messaging, Continual Service Improvement, Reporting, lotus domino, Framework