Shaping IT Service Management at The Hartree Centre: Continual Service Improvement

The last in a series of blog posts from Dave Cable, Head of Service Operations here at The Hartree Centre, summarises the steps we have taken to implement IT Service Management. 

In previous posts, I described three key components of ITIL infrastructure which we have implemented at the Hartree Centre – Service Operations, Service Design and Service Transition.  These are all inter-dependent and equal in stature.  However, there is one further area of ITIL which is slightly different because it underpins all of the above – Continual Service Improvement (CSI).  Continuous improvement is vital, because it ensures that processes and functions do not remain static.  They develop and improve in response to operational lessons learnt, leading to overall improvements in service quality.  Continuous improvement provides a feedback mechanism and tools to incorporate that feedback.  It can also work with quality management tools.

ITIL provides two complementary tools to implement CSI – the Deming Cycle, and the Seven-step Improvement Process.

What is the Deming Cycle?

At the heart of CSI is the Deming cycle, or Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA).  The idea is to:

  • Plan your work (eg. create a project plan, build a process).
  • Do the work (eg. implement the project, activate the process).
  • Check the work (eg. confirm the quality of project deliverables, audit the process).
  • Act on any issues (eg. lessons learnt document, tweak the process).

What is the Seven-step Improvement Process?

ITIL provides a further division of the Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle into seven steps.  These provide more specific guidance on the activities needed to implement CSI:

  1. Identify strategy for improvement. Overlaps with Act and Plan.  Provides wisdom.
  2. Define what you will measure. Overlaps with Plan and Do.  Provides Data.
  3. Gather the data. Overlaps with Plan and Do.  Provides Data.
  4. Process the data. Overlaps with Do and Check.  Provides Information.
  5. Analyse the information and data. Fits in Check.  Provides Knowledge.
  6. Present and use the information. Fits in Check.  Provides Knowledge.
  7. Implement improvement. Overlaps with Act and Plan.  Provides Wisdom.

Whilst PDCA and the seven-step improvement process may sound a little formulaic, they come alive when applied to real-world situations.  For example, we are using the seven-step improvement process to make our Change Management activities more rigorous and more effective whilst at the same time consulting more widely.

What’s next?

In this series of blog posts, I’ve attempted to explain the aspects of ITSM and specifically ITIL that we have implemented at the Hartree Centre.  Because ITIL is non-prescriptive, we can choose which components to implement and how exactly to deliver them to best suit our business.  And through CSI, we can ensure that we formally improve our services over time.

But we haven’t implemented all aspects of ITIL.  In particular, I would like to formalise our future service strategy and portfolio through the application of Service Strategy, Service Design and Service Management.

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