Continual Service Improvement (CSI) is a key lifecycle of ITIL®: but why should business focus on CSI and what benefits does it actually bring?
To explain why businesses should focus on CSI it’s probably easier – and more powerful – to explore the organizations that haven’t.
Since the global recession many organizations and brands have come and gone; many of those have gone out of business because they failed to innovate. Take the video rental industry for example:
When a large video rental business came onto the scene, it put small ‘mom and pop’ video shops out of business by mass marketing movie rental. For many years, this large video rental business dominated the market across the globe; but then things began to change.
In the US, companies like Red Box appeared and offered automated kiosk video rental for $1, then the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime sprung up and offered customers new releases without having to leave their seat.
While this was happening this large video rental company failed to innovate, yet it was in the perfect position to stay ahead and keep control of the market. Instead, the company maintained its retail focus and in 2010 went bankrupt. Now, there are just 11 franchise stores remaining globally.
As this example shows, whether you call it CSI or innovation, businesses must understand their customer and pivot and improve their offer in line with what they want. It’s important to remember: if you aren’t innovating, your competition will be.
Making CSI stick
For businesses to improve and innovate successfully, it requires a cultural change and a move away from the ‘we’ve always done it that way’ approach. As Einstein said: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
So rather than coming into the office, doing your job and going home, you’ve got to question whether there’s a better way to achieve the same result and quality product in a leaner, more efficient way.
One of the first steps in doing this is to have a plan and use it. Within ITIL, the CSI model is a useful tool in developing and then maintaining a CSI approach.
Alongside this model, businesses need to establish SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound) targets and benchmarking needs to be tracked so that it’s stored somewhere for future reference.
Organizations also need to ensure proper governance structures are in place and that people are made accountable for making changes. In fact, this is one of the biggest failings I see around service improvement. As a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt I regularly support businesses on making changes, but often the leadership isn’t there to convert a process into habit.
The CSI difference
As the large video rental business example shows, CSI can be the difference between a business failing and succeeding, but CSI also helps bring about small changes that really support and help the customer day to day.
While working with an aerospace and defence customer, for example, we found they were using independent active directories at each site: this meant that if someone visited a different office for the day, they couldn’t log into a computer. In response, we completed a massive consolidation exercise so that employees could log in at each site.
For the same client, we also implemented personal identification/smart cards for log-in purposes. Through a card and pin approach, (aside from not having to remember and change a password periodically) it increased the level of security so each person needed something physical (the smart card) and something they remember (the pin for your card) in order to log in.
Combined, these two improvements gave greater ease of use and functionality to the end user and it provided a more secure and cost efficient approach for the customer.
By continually thinking ‘is there a better way?’ businesses can achieve more efficient and effective processes, reduce waste and make cost savings. And as we all know, if you’re making or saving money for a company, you’re doing well!
See our Continual Service Improvement and ITIL section for more information.
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