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Build a Continual Improvement Plan for the Service Desk

Teach your old service desk new tricks.

  • Even service desks with a high degree of process maturity must contend with business priorities that change over time to sustain operational excellence.
  • Without the right leadership, commitment, and processes, improvements in service quality can be difficult to sustain.
  • Resistance to change from the business, end users, and service desk staff can create a major barrier to success.

Our Advice

Critical Insight

  • Lean into disruptive trends. Mature service desks are ideally situated to make the most of disruptive trends to meet changing business priorities.
  • It’s easier to climb Mount Everest than to stay there. Without continual service improvement, sustained service desk quality will be temporary. Organizations need to put in place an ongoing process to audit, enhance, and sustain the performance of the service desk whatever their process maturity.

Impact and Result

  • Continual service improvement is not only a development plan, but also an organizational culture. The goal is to embed a process of continual improvement in target service desk processes that enhances capabilities and improves service quality over time.
  • Build a continual improvement plan for the service desk to review and evaluate key processes and services, and manage the progress of improvement initiatives. The plan should develop a vision for the service desk, review its architecture, set measurable targets for improvement initiatives, identify relevant initiatives, and implement and manage its progress.
  • The service desk continuous improvement plan is an ongoing process. As one improvement cycle ends, the next cycle begins, which allows the service desk to keep pace with changing business requirements.

Build a Continual Improvement Plan for the Service Desk Research & Tools

Start here – read the Executive Brief

Read our concise Executive Brief to understand the value of a continual improvement plan for the service desk, review Info-Tech’s methodology, and understand the four ways we can support you in completing this project.

1. Focus the continual improvement plan

Design a service desk strategy, identify the key CSFs, KPIs, and metrics for success, and conduct a full assessment of the service desk to identify needs.

2. Build the continual improvement plan

Identify and prioritize improvement initiatives and construct a continual improvement action plan.

3. Run the continual improvement plan

Implement the continual improvement plan, monitor and communicate progress, and measure results.


Member Testimonials

After each Info-Tech experience, we ask our members to quantify the real-time savings, monetary impact, and project improvements our research helped them achieve. See our top member experiences for this blueprint and what our clients have to say.

Client

Experience

Impact

$ Saved

Days Saved

Aipso

Guided Implementation

9/10

N/A

20


Workshop: Build a Continual Improvement Plan for the Service Desk

Workshops offer an easy way to accelerate your project. If you are unable to do the project yourself, and a Guided Implementation isn't enough, we offer low-cost delivery of our project workshops. We take you through every phase of your project and ensure that you have a roadmap in place to complete your project successfully.

Module 1: Focus the Continual Improvement Plan

The Purpose

Outline the key objectives of your continual improvement plan and align them to organizational goals.

Key Benefits Achieved

Clear identification of continual improvement goals, direction, and metrics to be measured and reported on.

Activities

Outputs

1.1

Determine organizational goals and objective of continual service improvement plan.

  • List of organizational goals and related IT goals
1.2

Identify critical success factors.

  • List of critical success factors, key performance indicators, and metrics

Module 2: Assess the Service Desk; Identify and Prioritize Service Improvement Initiatives

The Purpose

  • Conduct a full assessment of service desk performance.
  • Create a list of improvement initiatives that align with organizational goals.
  • Determine the timeline and priority of goal completion. 

Key Benefits Achieved

  • Understand the improvement needs of the Service Desk from both metrics and the perspectives of key stakeholders.
  • High value initiatives identified.
  • Initiatives that are “quick wins” are prioritized first to demonstrate immediate benefit to the business. 

Activities

Outputs

2.1

Conduct a service desk assessment.

  • Service desk assessment
2.2

Prioritize service desk improvement initiatives.

  • Continual service improvement register

Module 3: Build the Continual Improvement Plan

The Purpose

Use items from the previous day’s activities to complete a continual improvement plan and action plan roadmap.

Key Benefits Achieved

All information necessary for the implementation of a continual improvement plan will be arranged in a concise document with a supporting roadmap to break down each improvement initiative into specific tasks with clear responsibility and timelines.

Activities

Outputs

3.1

Build the service desk continual improvement plan.

  • Continual service desk improvement plan
  • Continual service desk improvement roadmap

Module 4: Implement and Monitor the Continual Improvement Plan

The Purpose

Now that the continual improvement plan (CIP) is complete, it is critical to establish an effective monitoring and reporting strategy.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • A monitoring strategy will ensure the success and sustainability of the CIP through regular communication and the involvement of key stakeholders.
  • Reporting and reflecting on lessons learned will keep the momentum going and improve the process for the next improvement cycle.

Activities

Outputs

4.1

Build a process to monitor progress and measure outcomes.

  • Communication plan
4.2

Reflect on lessons learned.

  • List of lessons learned to implement in future projects

Build a Continual Improvement Plan for the Service Desk

Teach your old service desk new tricks.

ANALYST PERSPECTIVE

Where do we go from here?

Service desk managers often learn the hard way that standardizing their processes is only the start of the service quality journey. Quality service desk processes are not only difficult to build, they’re also difficult to sustain. Service managers who steward mature processes often find themselves stuck at the top of the mountain with no idea how to survive there.

There are three things you can do to put in place improvements that stick: engage, engage, engage. Engage executives; engage informal leaders; engage service desk analysts. Not only will each group have insights that could make or break the service desk improvement but engaging them will also get them to buy into the process. Ultimately, it will sustain the change process, and help ensure you don’t tumble back down the mountain"

Sandi Conrad, Senior Director, Infrastructure Practice Info-Tech Research Group

Our understanding of the program

This Research Is Designed For

  • CIOs who need to instill a culture of continual improvement in their IT organization.
  • IT directors who want to review the strategic direction of their service desk.
  • Managers of mature service desks who want to make gains in service desk effectiveness, timeliness, and customer service.

This Research Will Help You

  • Set a strategic vision for the service desk.
  • Conduct a service desk audit to identify your strengths and weaknesses.
  • Identify and prioritize service desk initiatives to improve the service desk.
  • Set measurable targets for improvement initiatives.
  • Design a service desk improvement project that sustains and cements change.
  • Measure and monitor progress to ensure initiatives achieve the desired outcome.

Executive Summary

Situation

  • The ideal service desk offers prompt and cost-effective service that improves service availability, resource use, and productivity. In reality, however, IT managers must work hard to maintain and improve service quality or risk performance deterioration over time.

Complication

  • Even service desks with a high degree of process maturity must contend with business priorities that change over time in order to sustain operational excellence.
  • Without the right leadership, commitment, and processes, improvements in service quality can be difficult to sustain.

Resolution

  • Continual service improvement is not only a development plan, but also an organizational culture. The goal is to embed a process of continual improvement in target service desk processes that enhances capabilities and improves service quality over time.
  • Build a continual improvement plan for the service desk to review and evaluate key processes and services and manage the progress of improvement initiatives. The plan should develop a vision for the service desk, review its architecture, set measurable targets for improvement initiatives, identify relevant initiatives, and manage their progress.
  • The service desk continual improvement plan is an ongoing process. As one improvement cycle ends, the next cycle begins, which allows the service desk to keep pace with changing business requirements. The service desk continual improvement plan is an ongoing process. As one improvement cycle ends, the next cycle begins, which allows the service desk to keep pace with changing business requirements.

Info-Tech Insight

  1. Lean into incremental improvements. Mature service desks with the capacity for change are ideally situated to respond to shifting business priorities.
  2. It’s easier to climb Mount Everest than to stay there. Without continual service improvement, sustained service desk quality will be temporary. Organizations need to put in place an ongoing process to audit, enhance, and sustain the performance of your service desk whatever your process maturity.

Info-Tech Research Group’s approach to service desk optimization focuses on building essential best practices

Info-Tech’s Service Desk Methodology

Our Approach to the Service Desk

Service desk optimization goes beyond the blind adoption of best-practice frameworks.

Info-Tech’s approach focuses on controlling support costs and making the most of IT’s service management expertise to improve productivity.

Do the projects sequentially or in any order.

Extend

Facilitate the extension of service management best practices to other business functions to improve productivity and position IT as a strategic partner.

Standardize

Build essential incident, service request, and knowledge management processes to create a sustainable service desk that meets business needs.

Consolidate

Build a strategic roadmap to consolidate service desks to reduce end-user support costs and sustain end-user satisfaction.

Improve

Build a continual improvement plan for the service desk to review and evaluate key processes and services and manage the progress of improvement initiatives.

Lean

Build essential incident, service request, and knowledge management processes to create a sustainable service desk that meets business needs.

Select and Implement

Review mid-market and enterprise service desk tools, select an ITSM solution, and build an implementation plan to ensure your investment meets your needs.

Put the basics in place before you embark on a service desk continual service improvement initiative

What is continual service improvement?

Continual service improvement is a proactive approach to service desk management. It involves measuring the effectiveness and efficiency of people, processes, and technology to:

  • Identify areas for improvement.
  • Adapt to changes in the business environment.
  • Align the IT strategy to organizational goals.

A continual improvement process helps service desks move away from a reactive approach to service improvements, which focuses only on fixing problems as they occur.

First things first

Make sure the basics are in place before you embark on a continual improvement initiative.

Putting in place a continual improvement process for your service desk will improve operational costs and end-user satisfaction, but only once you have consistent incident management and service request fulfillment processes.

Info-Tech Research Group’s Standardize the Service Desk blueprint can help you assess the current state of your service desk, and build consistent processes to support a tiered service desk and a single point of contact for IT services.

The standardize project will help:

  1. Compare current service desk practices against best practices.
  2. Put in place consistent processes for:
    • Ticket handling
    • Incident Management
    • Service request fulfillment
  3. Develop a knowledgebase to improve first call resolution and end-user satisfaction.

Implement a continual improvement plan to improve the performance of the service desk and consolidate your gains

Why implement a continual improvement plan for the service desk?

Implementing a continual improvement plan for the service desk:

  • Motivates action to make immediate improvements to key target areas.
  • Adapts service desks to changes in the environment.
  • Addresses issues proactively.
  • Demonstrates a commitment to service improvement.
  • Identifies opportunities for improvement, and measures progress on your initiatives.
  • Focuses the service desk on providing value to its end users.
A graph demonstrating how Standardization and Continual Improvement, as well as the Plan-Do-Check-Act strategy can increase Quality Improvement over time.

A continual improvement plan is the most effective initiative you can implement to increase end-user satisfaction

Improved business satisfaction:

  • Deliver service to the enterprise with confidence.
  • Channel incidents and requests through a single point of contact.
  • Escalate incidents quickly and accurately to the right business function.

Fewer recurring issues:

  • Tickets are created for every incident and categorized correctly.
  • Reports can be used for root cause analysis.

Increased efficiency / lower cost to serve:

  • Use FAQs to enable end users to self-solve.
  • Use a knowledgebase to troubleshoot once, solve many times.
  • Cross-train to improve service consistency.

Enhanced demand planning:

  • Trend analysis and reporting improve service providers beyond IT through the ability to forecast and address the demands of the business.

42.1%

On average, end users who were satisfied with service desk effectiveness rated all other IT services 42.1% higher than dissatisfied end users.

38%

On average, end users who were satisfied with service desk timeliness rated all other IT services 38.0% higher than dissatisfied end users.

Project Benefits

Empower other business functions to provide effective, timely services that meet business needs at a lower cost.

Follow the steps in this project blueprint to guide non-IT partners through the process.

42.1% On average, end users who were satisfied with service desk effectiveness rated all other IT services 42.1% higher than dissatisfied end users.
38.0% On average, end users who were satisfied with service desk timeliness rated all other IT services 38.0% higher than dissatisfied end users.
Project Benefits Empower other business functions to provide effective, timely services that meet business needs at a lower cost.

Follow the steps in this project blueprint to guide non-IT partners through the process.

Project structure

Build a Continual Improvement Plan for the Service Desk

Phase 1: FOCUS continual improvement plan

  1. determine goals and objectives of CSI
    • Organizational and IT goals
  2. Identify CSF
    • CSFs, KPIs, metrics
  3. Conduct service desk assessment
    • SD Assessment Tool (EXCEL)
      • A service desk assessment (Excel) to assess the maturity of key service desk processes.

Phase 2: BUILD Continual Improvement Plan

  1. Prioritize improvement initiatives
    • CSI Register
  2. Build CSI action plan
    • SD CSI Roadmap(EXCEL)
      • A continual service improvement plan (Word) for service desks to organize the project.
    • CSI Plan Template(WORD)
      • A service desk continual service improvement roadmap (Excel) to keep track of all improvement initiatives, prioritize opportunities, break down selected projects into steps, and track your progress.

Phase 3: RUN Continual Improvement Plan

  1. Monitor progress
    • communication Plan
  2. Measure outcome

Executive Brief Case Study – CERN

CERN Computing Centre

The European Organization for Nuclear Research is one of world’s largest centers for scientific research, hosting thousands of visiting scientists from around the world. The IT Platform and Engineering Services (PES) group provides batch, interactive, and specialized services to the staff at CERN.

Continual Service Improvement Cycle

The PES group at CERN set out to initiate a continual improvement plan in order to:

  1. Advance the use of ITIL best practices.
  2. Develop a knowledge-sharing culture within the group.
  3. Decrease ticket volume and average resolution time.

Results

After running the program for two years, the PES group increased the percentage of tickets solved by level-two teams from 25% to 43%.

The use of a support structure that allowed for knowledge exchange was critical to project success. The team holds weekly improvement meetings with key stakeholders and identifies and communicates effectively any necessary training and documentation needs.

The case study continues in step 3.

The Continual Service Improvement Cycle included the following components:

The image shows The Continual Service Improvement cycle, and the components are: Decide what should be measured; Decide what can be measured; Gather data; Process data; Analyze data; Present and use the information; implement corrective action

Info-Tech offers various levels of support to suit your needs

DIY Toolkit Guided Implementation Workshop Consulting
“Our team has already made this critical project a priority, and we have the time and capability, but some guidance along the way would be helpful.” “Our team knows that we need to fix a process, but we need assistance to determine where to focus. Some check-ins along the way would help keep us on track.” “We need to hit the ground running and get this project kicked off immediately. Our team has the ability to take this over once we get a framework and strategy in place.” “Our team does not have the time or the knowledge to take this project on. We need assistance through the entirety of this project.”

Diagnostics and consistent frameworks used throughout all four options

Build a Continual Improvement Plan for the Service Desk

1. Focus 2. Build 3. Run
Best-Practice Toolkit

1.1 Determine goals and objectives

1.2 Identify critical success factors

1.3 Conduct service desk assessment

2.1 Prioritize improvement initiatives

2.2 Build CSI action plan

3.1 Monitor progress

3.2 Measure outcomes

Guided Implementations
  • Determine the goals of the continual improvement plan, and align them to organizational goals and strategy.
  • Identify critical success factors for the project, conduct a service desk audit, and review the results.
  • Brainstorm and prioritize continual improvement initiatives for the service desk.
  • Draw on the prioritized list of service desk initiatives to build a continual improvement plan and strategic roadmap.
  • Build a plan to communicate progress, promote the benefits of the projects, and reflect on lessons learned.
Onsite Workshop Module 1:

Focus the continual improvement plan

Module 2:

Build the continual improvement plan

Module 3:

Run the continual improvement plan

Phase 1 Outcome:
  • Continual service improvement plan goals aligned to organizational goals.
  • A service desk maturity baseline.
Phase 2 Outcome:
  • A continual improvement plan for the service desk.
  • A strategic roadmap for the continual improvement plan.
Phase 3 Outcome:
  • A communication plan to promote the benefits of the project and communicate changes to various stakeholders.

Workshop overview

Day 1 (conducted off-site) Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5
Activities Preparation
  1. Confirm workshop scope. Send agenda to workshop participants.
  2. Analysts review service desk organizational structure.
  3. Analysts conduct a ticket trend analysis on ITSM tool data.
Workshop Day
  1. Determine organizational goals and objectives of continual service improvement plan.
  2. Identify critical success factors.
Workshop Day
  1. Conduct service desk assessment.
  2. Prioritize service desk improvement initiatives.
Workshop Day
  1. Build continual service desk improvement action plan.
Workshop Day
  1. Build a process to monitor progress and measure outcomes.
  2. Develop a communication plan.
  3. Reflect on lessons learned.
Deliverables
  1. Workshop scope and agenda.
  2. Comparative analysis of current service desk structures against best practices.
  3. Ticket trend assessment, including ticket volume, and most important incidents and service requests.
  1. List of organizational goals, related IT goals, and goals for the continual improvement program.
  2. List of critical success factors, key performance indicators, and metrics.
  1. Service desk assessment tool.
  2. Continual service improvement register including matrix to prioritize initiatives.
  1. Continual service desk improvement plan.
  2. Continual service desk improvement roadmap.
  1. Communication plan.

PHASE 1

Focus the Continual Improvement Plan

Phase 1 outline

Call 1-888-670-8889 or email GuidedImplementations@InfoTech.com for more information

Complete these steps on your own, or call us to complete a guided implementation. A guided implementation is a series of 2-3 advisory calls that help you execute each phase of a project. They are included in most advisory memberships.

Guided Implementation 1: Focus the service desk continual improvement plan

Proposed Time to Completion (in weeks): 4

Step 1.1: Determine Goals and Objectives

Start with an analyst kick-off call:

  • Discuss how to gather organizational goals, and set objectives for the continual improvement plan.

Then complete these activities…

  • Define triggers, goals, and objectives of continual improvement.
  • Determine roles & responsibilities.

With these tools & templates:

    Continual Service Improvement Plan

Step 1.2: Identify Critical Success Factors

Review findings with analyst:

  • Review best practices for identifying critical success factors and KPIs.

Then complete these activities…

  • Define CSFs, KPIs, and target metrics.
  • Identify key performance indicators and metrics to measure progress in achieving critical success factors.

With these tools & templates:

    Continual Service Improvement Plan

Step 1.3: Conduct a Full Assessment of Your Service Desk

Finalize phase deliverable:

  • Review best practices for conducting an audit of service desk processes.

Then complete these activities…

  • Review the results of your diagnostic programs to inform your current state, including:
    • End-user satisfaction survey
    • CIO business vision
  • Identify key metrics to assess improvement initiatives.

With these tools & templates:

Service Desk Audit Tool

Phase 1 Results & Insights:

Continual improvement must demonstrate its worth to the organization before the process can begin. By focusing the plan on organizational goals, you will generate support from within to effectively deploy the continual improvement plan in the future. This will also allow the Service Desk to effectively respond to shifting business priorities.

Step 1 – Determine goals and objectives

  1. Determine goals & objectives
  2. Identify critical success factors
  3. Conduct a full assessment of your service desk
  4. Prioritize improvement initiatives
  5. Build continual improvement action plan
  6. Monitor progress
  7. Measure outcome

This step will walk you through the following activities:

  • Define triggers, goals, and objectives of continual improvement.
  • Determine roles and responsibilities.

This step involves the following participants:

  • Service Desk Manager
  • CSI Manager
  • Business Executives
  • CIO/IT Director

Outcomes of this step

  • A set of goals and objectives that align with the business vision.
  • A defined business, IT, and service desk strategy.
  • A list of roles and responsibilities and a RACI chart for the continual improvement process.

Identify the business vision and needs to ensure IT services will align

The first step of the continual improvement process is to understand the business needs and objectives in order to ensure the CSI process will align with and support the business vision.

Understand the business vision

  • Understand the high-level business objectives to set the vision for continual improvement in a way that will align IT strategies with business strategies.
  • A clear picture of your organization’s goals and overall corporate strategy is the crucial first step to continual improvement and will set the stage for the metrics you select.
  • Knowing what your business is doing and understanding the impact of IT on the business will help you ensure that any metrics you collect will be business focused.
  • Understanding the long-term vision of the business and its appetite for commitment and sponsorship will also inform your IT strategy and continual improvement goals.

Ensure that continual improvement will benefit the business

  • One of the primary goals of continual improvement is to continually align and realign IT services to changing business needs.
  • All improvements to IT services that will be undertaken through the continual service improvement (CSI) process should support business processes and business needs.
  • While growth and innovation are top of mind, 53% of technology CEOs recognize that operational efficiencies are critical and the most important factor when it comes to the future well-being of their companies (KPMG, 2015).
  • Thirty-four percent of technology CEOs name implementing disruptive technologies as their top strategic priority.
  • The service desk needs to work in conjunction with other parts of the organization.

Develop IT’s strategy and goals to set the framework for the improvement process

IT Strategy

After checking in with the business leaders, check in with IT management and executives in order to clearly identify and evaluate IT’s strategy and objectives for the future.

If there is a clearly identified IT strategy in place, evaluate it, redefine it if necessary, and ensure it aligns with the business strategy.

If no IT strategy currently exists, IT leaders should define a clear strategy with goals and objectives, which will help set the framework for the service desk strategy and improvement process.

Service Desk Strategy

Similarly, a clearly defined service desk strategy should be in place, which will support both IT and business strategies.

A lot of mature service desks are heavily invested in ITIL, so every project they undertake is heavily based on what ITIL says they should be doing that they’re currently not doing.

You don’t need to strictly adhere to each and every single guideline that ITIL or a specific framework provides, as this may lead you to try to solve a “problem” that isn’t really a problem for your organization.

Rather, design your service desk strategy based on the specific needs and vision of your organization, taking into account suggestions and steps from various frameworks where applicable.

Info-Tech Insight

Don’t limit your strategy to following the steps from one specific framework; design your strategy based on your specific needs.

Identify the triggers for the continual improvement process

This image depicts a cycle of Continual Improvement. Audits: Check for performance requirements in order to pass major audits for frameworks like ISO 20000.  Assessments: Variances in efficiency or effectiveness of metrics when compared to the industry standard.  Process maturity: Opportunity to increase efficiency of services & processes.  Management reviews: Routine reviews that reveal gaps. Technology advances: For example, new service desk architecture has become available.  Regulations: Compliance to new or changed regulations (ISO 20000).  New staff, new technology: Disruptive technology or new skills that allow for improvement.

Define a manageable strategy for continual improvement by focusing on key goals and priorities

Don’t try to boil the ocean. Beginning with too wide a scope will consume too much time and resources.

CSI must be implemented with a limited scope if it will be successful. Don’t try to improve every process/service at once; it is a continual improvement process.

It’s important to focus on key goals and the priorities of the vision to help set the scope for the CSI process.

Develop a continual improvement strategy

Before initiating the CSI process, begin by developing an ongoing continual improvement strategy that will be referenced over the long term as you continually select and implement improvement initiatives.

The continual improvement strategy should include clearly defined goals, objectives, and key measurements that will lead to actionable improvements.

The CSI strategy should address:

  • The overall health of the service desk.
  • The maturity of each of the service desk processes and services.
  • The continual alignment of the service desk to IT services and future business needs.

In my experience it’s the lack of commitment from management or the perception that there is no such commitment. To improve a service desk it needs to have a clear identity and a set mission converted to targets/goals. I’ve seen a lot of methods mentioned…which are all parts of the solution in my opinion, but without the motivation and drive it’s going be just the “next” improvement in the eyes of the employees.
Marc Fransen,
IT Service Manager

Info-Tech Insight

Executive Support Is Key
Leadership and commitment are essential to service desk strategy and CSI.
Developing a strategy to improve the process and structure of the service desk will require qualified leadership from individuals in management and leadership positions who are committed to the entire process from setting goals and priorities through measuring effectiveness to making and sustaining improvements.

Define the triggers, goals, and objectives of continual improvement and align them with your IT strategy

1.1 Define the objectives of the continual improvement program

Time Allotment: 90 minutes

Recommended Participants

  • CIO/IT Director
  • IT Manager
  • Service Manager
  • CSI Manager
  1. Schedule a meeting with recommended participants.
  2. Facilitate a discussion to outline the business vision or strategy and IT needs in order to ensure the continual improvement strategy will be aligned.
  3. Define the triggers for the continual improvement plan.
    • Remember that triggers can come from a variety of places.
    • Defined triggers make it easier to identify initiatives for improvement.
  4. Identify the goals and objectives for continual improvement.
    • Goals should be aligned to strategy and informed by triggers.
    • These goals and objectives will set the framework for the critical success factors to be determined in the next step.

Document as you go:

Document the outcome of the discussion in the Continual Improvement Plan, Section 2.1 and 2.2.

Lead with the benefits to overcome resistance to change from management

Gain support from the business by bringing solutions, not problems, to the table. Lead with the benefits, and explain the reasoning behind changes before introducing them.

It’s important to bring solutions to the business when implementing CSI rather than problems; that way all that has to be done is signing off on a decision.

When discussing improvement opportunities, discuss both sides of the situation – talk about the things that are working well and then talk about the things that aren’t working well and how those are affecting service delivery.

If you talk about an improvement, explain the reason you’re doing it and the benefits to be gained once you put this improvement in place.
There needs to be engagement from people at all levels to get everyone excited about change.

Focus on the positives to be gained from the improvement and how the negatives are bringing the Service Desk down.
Even if a process is working well, focus on how it could be working even better.

Info-Tech Insight

There’s a perception that CSI is looking for faults, but that’s not always the case; you might be looking at things that are good but could be great. If you have a process that’s scoring at 70%, but all of your other processes are scoring at 85-90%, there’s room for improvement.

Gain support from within to ensure a cultural shift

  • Get all service desk staff on your side from the beginning so that they understand the benefits and make sure the project is tailored to their needs. Get people involved in changing the process, making key individuals responsible for improvement to process.
  • Get all service desk staff on your side from the beginning so that they understand the benefits and make sure the project is tailored to their needs. Get people involved in changing the process, making key individuals responsible for improvement to process.
  • Involve the service desk staff in the process – let them know you’re trying to improve their practice and engage them in the mission. Make sure there is training, and be prepared to take time (persist long enough to effect change to habits).
  • Make sure to communicate executive support of the project to the service desk team. Top-down support for a project helps ensure employee buy-in at any level.
  • Don’t forget to communicate the benefits of the continual improvement plan to service desk employees, and clarify how everyone’s role will be affected.

Info-Tech Insight

Unless you have the support of your team, you won’t be able to deliver the right solution. You can tell your team that having a knowledgebase will improve the Service Desk, but ultimately, they need to build it. Without support from your team, even the best improvement plan can fail.

Communicate the benefits of CSI clearly to justify the effort

CSI must demonstrate its worth to the organization before the process can begin.

  1. Define the benefits in a clear and measurable way.
  2. Explain the benefits in the context of the business vision and needs and how continual improvement will better align IT services to the organization.
  3. Host a CSI workshop for business executives to kick off the improvement process at a leadership level.

Benefits may include:

  • Improved quality of business operations through better support and alignment from IT services.
  • More reliable support from the service desk, resulting in more realistic customer/end-user expectations.
  • Improved customer/end-user satisfaction.
  • Increased staff productivity through more efficient processes and better availability of services.
  • Reduced costs through more cost-effective processes and services, leading to long-term financial benefits.
  • Improved ability to adapt quickly to changing trends and new requirements.
  • Improved metrics and data collection and reporting.

When executives hear "continual improvement" they typically say they've seen it before and have never seen it done well. Once you position CSI correctly and leadership can see the practicality and value, I've never seen a business that then says they don't want that. – CSI Manager

Define roles and responsibilities to ensure accountability

The continual improvement activities will only be successful if specific roles and responsibilities are clearly identified.

Depending on available staff and resources, you may be able to have some individuals in full-time CSI roles or include CSI activities in their job descriptions.

Each improvement action that you identify should have clear ownership and accountability to ensure that it is completed within the specified timeframe.

Roles and responsibilities can be reassigned throughout the CSI process.

Consider assigning dedicated CSI roles

Manager The manager of the CSI process will be responsible for filling and monitoring all CSI roles, developing the continual improvement action plan, and ensuring success of the initiatives.
Analysts CSI analysts will be responsible for analyzing data and trends that are captured through the CSI.

Focus on people in addition to process and technology

Have different parties responsible for different phases of the project to ensure objectivity.

  • For example, if the same individuals set the strategies and goals and also measure whether they were achieved, they may be more biased to say that the project succeeded.

Ensure that the service desk staff have the appropriate skills and knowledge to carry out the steps necessary to achieve the goals of the continual improvement program.

  • If not, determine what training may be necessary for staff.

Determine roles & responsibilities

1.2 Organize roles & responsibilities in a RACI chart

Time Allotment: 60 minutes

Recommended Participants

  • IT Manager
  • Service Manager
  • CSI Manager
  • Service Desk Analysts
  • Tier 2/3 Specialists
  1. Schedule a meeting with recommended participants.
  2. Facilitate a discussion to define the roles and responsibilities for the continual improvement process. Discuss:
    • Which existing roles apply.
    • Any new roles that need to be created.
    • Any potential challenges facing current or new roles.
  3. Identify specific responsibilities for roles within the continual improvement process.
    • This may include a CSI Manager, Service Manager, CSI Analyst, and Service Team.
    • CSI-specific roles such as the CSI Manager do not have to be separate positions, but responsibilities should be assigned to ensure accountability for the progress of the continual improvement plan (CIP).
  4. Use a RACI chart to record the roles and responsibilities of each member of the service team.

Document as you go:

Document the outcome of the discussion in the Continual Improvement Plan, Section 2.3.

Step 2 – Identify critical success factors and target metrics

1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Determine goals & objectives Identify critical success factors Conduct a full assessment of your service desk Prioritize improvement initiatives Build continual improvement action plan Monitor progress Measure outcome

This step will walk you through the following activities:

  • Define CSFs, KPIs, and baseline and target metrics.
  • This step involves the following participants:

    • Service Manager
    • CSI Manager
    • IT Manager
    • CIO/IT Director
    • Tier 2/3 Specialists

    Outcomes of this step

    • A list of CSFs
    • Two to three KPIs for each CSF
    • Metrics for each KPI

    Identify critical success factors for the continual improvement process

    • Critical success factors (CSFs) are higher level goals or requirements for success, such as improving end-user satisfaction; they’re factors that must be met in order to reach your IT and business strategic vision.
    • Critical success factors for a service desk should cover the five Ps:
      • People, Process, Products, Performance, and Partners
    Factor Content CSF Example
    People Tasks, roles, and responsibilities Improved agents’ knowledge of IT services or business objectives
    Process Maturity and consistency of processes Defined process in place to consistently identify and categorize urgency and impact of a ticket
    Products Technical tools and software used by the service desk Effective ticketing system with workflows for ticket management
    Performance Efficiency, effectiveness, and value of the service desk Improved end-user satisfaction and retention
    Partners*(if relevant) Timeliness and quality of services provided by internal and external suppliers Well-defined agreements for second-level technician support

    Select KPIs that will identify useful information for the initiative

    Define key performance indicators (KPIs) for each CSF; these will usually involve a trend, as an increase or decrease in something. If KPIs already exist for your service desk, re-evaluate them to assess their relevance to current strategy, and redefine if necessary. Selected KPIs should provide a full picture of the health of your service desk.

    KPIs should cover these four vectors of service desk performance:

    Quantity
    Output measures such as incidents resolved or service desk requests completed within a specific timeframe.

    Quality
    Correctness or accuracy measures such as the percentage of correct queue assignments.

    Timeliness
    Time-based measures such as the percentage of Level 1 incidents that are resolved within a specific timeframe.

    Compliance
    Measures of how well processes and controls are being executed properly.

    Some of the most useful KPIs for service desk may include:

    • Cost per contact/ticket
    • Customer satisfaction
    • Agent utilization
    • First contact resolution rate
    • First level resolution rate
    • Agent satisfaction
    • Aggregate service desk performance

    Examples of defined KPIs:

    • First call resolution is at least 75%
    • Level 1 incidents are responded to within ten minutes

    Info-Tech Insight

    Less is more – don’t try to measure and report on too many KPIs at once. Select only those KPIs that can be measured accurately to inform the CSFs that will support the business organization.
    Aim for two to three KPIs for each CSF and no more than three to five KPIs per CSF.

    Set target metrics that would define an improvement for each KPI

    • For each CSF and KPI, identify the baseline metric you were achieving and establish a targeted improvement metric to aim for through the continual improvement process.
    • As part of your continual improvement action plan, a first step will be to identify your CSFs, two to three KPIs for each CSF, and target metrics for each KPI. An example is shown below.
    CSF KPI KPI Measure Baseline Metric Target Metric Metric Source
    Increased number of tickets resolved by the first person to speak to the customer
    • Total number of tickets
    • Number of tickets resolved on first contact
    First contact resolution rate 50% Equal to or greater than 60% ITSM tool for ticket management
    Improved end-user satisfaction with IT
    • Increase in net promoter score over the next six months
    • Increase in end-user satisfaction score over the next year
    • Support score based on number of promoters and detractors
    • End-user satisfaction survey score
    60% Equal to or greater than 75%
    • Transactional end-user satisfaction surveys
    • Annual end-user satisfaction survey

    Define CSFs, KPIs, and target metrics

    1.3 Identify CSFs, KPIs, and associated metrics

    Time Allotment: 60 minute

    Recommended Participants

    • Service Manager, CSI Manager
    • IT Manager
    • Service Desk Analysts
    1. Schedule a meeting with recommended participants.
    2. Brainstorm CSFs to achieve as part of the continual improvement plan. Consider:
      • The objectives of continual improvement.
      • The five Ps: People, Process, Products, Performance, and Partners.
      • Inviting a few Tier 1 analysts in order to get frontline feedback.
    3. For each CSF, select two to three KPIs and target metrics to define each KPI.
      • Remember to keep KPIs manageable and your metrics realistic.
    4. Record your results in a table like that shown in the previous slide.

    Document as you go:

    Document the outcome of the discussion in the Continual Improvement Plan, Sections 2.4 and 2.5.

    This is an image of the table shown in the previous slide, with the headings: CSF; KPI; KPI Measure; Baseline Metric; Target Metric; Metric Source.

    Step 3 – Conduct a full assessment of your service desk

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7
    Determine goals & objectives Identify critical success factors Conduct a full assessment of your service desk Prioritize improvement initiatives Build continual improvement action plan Monitor progress Measure outcome

    This step will walk you through the following activities:

    • End-User Satisfaction Survey
    • CIO Business Vision
    • IT Skills Inventory and Gap Assessment Tool
    • Service Desk Audit
    • Identify key metrics to assess improvement initiatives

    This step involves the following participants:

    • Service Manager
    • CSI Manager
    • IT Manager
    • CIO/IT Director
    • Service Desk Analysts

    Outcomes of this step

    • Current State Assessment

    Use three forms of assessment to create a complete picture of service desk performance

    In order to obtain a full picture of the current performance of your service desk, it’s not enough to rely on a single source of evaluation. Evaluate information from three sources in order to obtain an unbiased baseline assessment of your service desk performance.

    Metrics Collect and evaluate key service desk performance metrics.
    End-user feedback Survey your end users to understand their assessment of and satisfaction with the service desk.
    Service desk staff feedback Interview your staff to gain their insights into their satisfaction and how well the service desk is running.

    Conduct a service desk assessment to identify best practices

    • Interview users within the business that use the service desk a lot, as they can provide quality insight about performance.
    • In addition to interviews, metrics play a key role in understanding what needs improvement. After you implement metrics, have an impact report regularly generated (daily) to monitor them.
    • After conducting the initial audit, conduct future audits quarterly or semi-annually, unless you have evidence from the metrics that there’s a problem.
    • Understand the capabilities of the staff themselves (all levels from analyst to manager), and provide training or upgrading of skills if necessary.

    Assessments can be conducted internally by the organization, or externally through a third party. There are pros and cons to each; select the method that is most appropriate for your organization.

    Method Pros Cons
    Self-Assessment
    • Reduced cost
    • Internal knowledge of service desk processes
    • Learning and communication gained through the process
    • Difficult to remain objective and impartial
    • Limited skills and knowledge
    • Requires resources and time from staff
    External Assessment
    • Objective viewpoint
    • Expert knowledge and experience
    • Detailed
    • No loss in staff time
    • Higher cost
    • Limited knowledge of the internal environment

    Overcome resistance to an audit by emphasizing that you’re seeking to identify best practices to share across the service desk or with another service desk, and by involving the service desk in the process. Frame the audit as identifying the positive rather than the negative. If you do find best practices, share those with the team.– Gautam Bangalore, Service Management Professional

    Conduct a formal assessment to collect and analyze data on key performance metrics

    The first place you must start for any CSI exercise is to get some clear knowledge of exactly where you are right now. That means you must have some good metrics in place.

    Metrics tell an important part of the story about where you are now and where you need to improve. It is important to ensure that the metrics you collect:

    • Are accurate and reliable.
    • Align with the business and IT strategy.
    • Inform your continual improvement plan.

    The metrics you assess will be informed by the CSFs and KPIs you identified in Step 2.

    Metrics are not just how the service desk is doing, but how all parts of the organization are working together.

    These metrics must not be focused too narrowly; ensure you have a genuine coverage of both quality and cost, and effectiveness and efficiency.

    Gathering those metrics is a challenge for many organizations, therefore, they don’t do it and do not provide as good a service as they could.

    The metrics you should be putting in place need to be focused on what the business is trying to achieve.

    Audits are useful to establish baseline metrics but should also leave behind a set of metrics that can be continually monitored and reported on.

    Info-Tech Insight

    Metrics will not be useful in terms of identifying areas for improvement if they are not realistic. Be honest and as accurate as possible through the process.

    Gather and evaluate existing performance data to determine what new data you need to collect

    Info-Tech Insight

    Don’t automatically start gathering data and waste time collecting data that already exists. Start by analyzing existing data on service desk performance to determine what information you still need to collect.

    Gather and evaluate existing performance data to determine what new data you need to collect

    Start by identifying the tools and measurements you already have in place. This may include:

  • Service management tools;
  • Monitoring tools;
  • Reporting tools and databases.
  • Identify what data each of these tools currently measures and collects.

    Identify what data is currently being reported on.

    Identify what relevant information is not being collected.

    Evaluate the integrity of the data – identify what information can be used to inform your assessment and what data is not reliable.

    Evaluate whether the data aligns with strategy and goals for improvement.

    Use this gap analysis to determine what information still needs to be collected.

    Info-Tech Insight

    Don’t automatically start gathering data and waste time collecting data that already exists. Start by analyzing existing data on service desk performance to determine what information you still need to collect.

    Select and implement appropriate metrics to clarify your current state

    The specific metrics you choose to include in your assessment will be informed by the goals and objectives of the continual improvement plan, including the target metrics you identified to align with your KPIs and CSFs.

    Three types of metrics you will need to collect include:

    Technology metrics: Component and application performance/availability

    Process metrics: Health of each service desk process

    Service metrics: Effectiveness and efficiency of service delivery

    If SLAs are in place, ensure you also collect data on whether/how well the service desk is meeting SLAs. This will inform improvement initiatives that can increase business and end-user satisfaction.

    Suggested Service Desk Metrics

    1. Single point of contact
    2. First point of contact resolution
    3. Telephone answering time
    4. Time to action issues raised by email or web portal
    5. Functional escalation
    6. End-to-end management
    7. Availability of knowledge
    8. Cost of calls
    9. Call pattern

    Identify key metrics to assess improvement initiatives

    1.4 Identify and record data on key metrics

    Time Allotment: 2 hours

    Recommended Participants

    • Service Manager
    • CSI Manager
    • IT Manager
    1. Identify a list of metrics that will inform the continual improvement program and will be necessary to track.
      • These will be informed by the CSFs and KPIs you identified earlier.
      • Metrics should align with the business strategy and the service desk strategy and goals for continual improvement.
    2. Identify metrics that you are already tracking and reporting upon regularly.
      • Ensure the data is accurate and reliable.
    3. Compare list of desired metrics to list of metrics that are already being tracked and metrics that are included in the Service Desk Assessment Tool.
      • Any metrics that are not being tracked will need to be evaluated and reported upon.
      • Any metrics that are tracked but not included in the Service Desk Assessment Tool will need to be reported on separately.
      • All other metrics should be recorded in the Service Desk Assessment Tool.

    Document as you go:

    Document the list of key metrics in the Continual Improvement Plan, Section 2.5.
    Record data on key metrics in the Service Desk Assessment Tool.

    Measure end-user feedback to gain a different perspective on performance

    Relying only on metrics from the service desk side may not entirely capture the customer/end-user experience with the service desk.

    Customer perceptions are an essential component of service desk quality.

    IT teams often rely on service level targets such as incident response and resolution rate, but these don’t tell you enough about the customer’s perceptions.

    Even a mature service desk may not necessarily be meeting customer needs.

    Include a measurement of customer feedback – their perceptions of what you’re doing well and what you need to improve.

    If you’ve had a service desk in place for a while, a survey is more accurate than relying on call logs – users may not be calling because they are not expecting anyone to answer.

    Asking your users about their current expectations via formal surveys is the best way to start the improvement process.

    Get out there and ask your users what is driving them crazy. Your user community is the one that is going to tell you how you’re performing. For example, sometimes it’s not what version of software you’re using, but how people are using it.– Joseph Philpott, Acting Director Service Assurance

    Info-Tech Insight

    The most powerful way to drive continual improvement of a service desk is to continually share customer feedback. At the end of the day, service quality all comes down to customer perceptions.

    Collect relevant quantitative and qualitative data to assess the perception of IT across the organization

    Don’t base your current state assessment on a hunch.

    Solicit direct feedback from the organization to gain critical insights into their perceptions of IT.

    • CIO Business Vision: Understanding the needs of your stakeholders is the first and most important step in building an IT strategy. Use the results of this survey to assess the satisfaction and importance of different IT services.
    • End-User Satisfaction Survey: Solicit targeted department feedback on core IT service capabilities, IT communications, and business enablement. Use the results to assess the satisfaction of end users with each service broken down by department and seniority level.

    We recommend completing at least the End-User Satisfaction Survey as part of your service desk assessment. An analyst will help you set up the diagnostic and walk through the report with you.

    To book a diagnostic, or get a copy of our questions to inform your own survey, visit Info-Tech's Benchmarking Tools, contact your account manager, or call toll-free 1-888-670-8889 (US) or 1-844-618-3192 (CAN).

    Data-Driven Diagnostics

    End-User Satisfaction Survey

    This is a general overview of the End-User Satisfaction Survey

    CIO Business Vision

    this image contains overall satisfaction and value metrics

    Review the results of your diagnostic programs to inform your current state assessment

    1.5 Understand satisfaction with the service desk

    Time Allotment: 60 minutes

    Recommended Participants

    • CIO/IT Director
    • IT Manager
    • Service Manager
    • CSI Manager
    1. Set up an analyst call through your account manager to review the results of your diagnostic.
      Whatever survey you choose, ask the analyst to review the data and comments concerning:
      • Assessments of service desk timeliness/effectiveness
      • IT business enablement
      • IT innovation leadership
    2. Book a meeting with recommended participants. Open and project the results of your diagnostic survey.
    3. Facilitate a discussion of the results. Focus on the first few summary slides and the overall department results slide.
      • What is the level of IT support?
      • What are stakeholders’ perception of IT’s performance?
      • How satisfied are stakeholders with IT? Does the department understand and act on business needs?
      • What are the business priorities and how well are you doing in meeting these priorities?
      • How can the service desk assist the business in achieving goals?

    Document as you go

    Document the outcome of the discussion in Continual Improvement Plan, Section 2.6.
    Record End-User Satisfaction in the Service Desk Assessment Tool, Tab 4.

    this is an image of the IT Satisfaction Scorecard. The subheadings are: IT Support Breakdown; IT Relationship Satisfaction; Business Satisfaction and Importance for Core Services

    Implement transactional end-user surveys to understand customer satisfaction on a granular level

    Win back end users with a customer service attitude.

    1. Transactional end-user surveys measure ticket satisfaction from the end user’s perspective with a few questions that measure satisfaction on a numerical scale (usually 0-5 or 0-10).
    2. These basic satisfaction questions may be followed up with one or two open-ended questions asking the reason for the score and suggestions for improvement.
    3. The score can drive continual improvement in a way that will also improve the perception of the IT Service Desk from the perspective of the customer.

    Info-Tech Insight

    The best way to drive a higher survey response rate is to send out less surveys.
    Assign a randomized selection from each day’s closed tickets to receive a survey. Keep the surveys short (three to five questions maximum) and easy to answer.

    Case study: Lonely Planet

    Challenge Solution Results

    Lonely Planet, a travel guide company with offices in Australia, the UK, the USA, India, and China, wanted to increase its overall IT satisfaction.

    The company had a fairly large IT department (approximately 100 employees), and it was looking for innovative ways to improve service quality and increase IT’s reputation with the business.

    Lonely Planet implemented end-user transactional surveys based on Net Promoter. At first this was done semi-manually but is now automated with a specialized tool called CIOPulse.

    A Net Promoter survey was issued when an incident was closed to understand customer satisfaction, which can be tracked over time and benchmarked against other teams.

    Lonely Planet also encouraged processes like calling detractors (unhappy people) back to benefit from the Service Recovery Paradox and sharing positive feedback in team meetings.

    Over a period of just six months, in which the only change made was the adoption of the transactional surveys, including calling people back and sharing feedback, Lonely Planet increased overall IT satisfaction by 23 percentage points.

    Since the engagement, Lonely Planet’s IT satisfaction has consistently been hitting a Net Promoter score in the high 90s.

    Sharing the positive feedback during team meetings helps reinforce best practices for customer service.

    Embrace the service recovery paradox to increase end-user satisfaction

    Have you ever had a negative experience at a restaurant or a retail store? You likely left that experience with a negative opinion about the entire establishment.

    If you later contacted the establishment about your negative experience and they went out of their way to correct the problem – for example, you had very poor service at a restaurant and the restaurant provided you with a gift certificate to make up for it – your opinion of the restaurant will actually be rated higher than it would be if no problem had occurred at all. This is known as the Service Recovery Paradox (SRP).

    The SRP does not work as well for big failures – customers who have had a horrific service desk experience are almost beyond repair with regards to a SRP approach.

    If a mistake is beyond your control, communicate it. The SRP works better if the customer believes it was beyond your control. Service desk staff should be taught to manage customer expectations when the service issue is truly beyond company control.

    This image shows a line graph, comparing Customer Loyalty over Time.  it demonstrates that customer loyalty can increase even more after a successfully handled service failure, than if there had not been a failure in the first place.

    Info-Tech Insight

    The SRP is a useful part your service management toolbox, but it is by no means a strategy. Focus on improving your end-user satisfaction and overall service management quality through tools such as transactional surveys.

    Speak to your service desk staff to understand their needs

    Those on the frontlines are often in the best place to suggest changes.

    • The third key source of information for your service desk assessment is the service desk staff themselves.
    • As part of your assessment, hold structured interviews with a representative selection of service desk staff at various levels – including Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 3, and managers.
    • Find out what is holding them back from performing their job effectively, and what they feel needs to change in order to provide better service to the end users.
    • Measure agent satisfaction and consider improving agent satisfaction as an objective of your continual improvement plan if necessary.

    • Staff are your greatest assets and often provide the clearest insights; those closest to the problem are best placed to suggest solutions.
    • Let service desk staff speak up about improvement opportunities that make their lives more productive. Capture what needs to be done then turn that into action.
    • If you start getting engagement from the service desk by showing that you're interested in real change, more people will begin stepping up with more suggestions – they have a voice and we should listen.
    – Dave Smith, IT Trainer This image shows the Service Desk Assessment Tool.  the headings are 1. End-User Satisfaction; 2. Agent Satisfaction; 3. Cost Per Ticket; 4. Agent Utilization Rate; 5. First-Contact Resolution Rate; 6. First-Tier Resolution Rate

    Document as you go

    Document the outcome of the discussion in the Continual Improvement Plan, Section 2.6.

    Evaluate the abilities of service desk agents to prioritize training gaps

    Understand three key attributes of your service desk agents to prioritize training gaps.

    Understand Silos

    • Are there service desk agents that are keeping knowledge of certain processes to themselves?
    • For example, if only one of five agents takes on mobile device issues, this can create a bottleneck of mobile device tickets.
    • What if that agent leaves the organization? Their knowledge and experience have now left your company.

    Understand Work Styles

    • Not all agents are the same in terms of their preferences and work habits, but if your organization is adopting a new process or new work, some agents will naturally gravitate towards that work, while others may resist change.
    • Having a profile of your agents developed through a team profiling service will provide value to your team.

    Understand Skills

    • Know the skills present across your service desk staff.
    • Not all service desk agents may be trained equally in all areas of work.
    • Use Info-Tech’s IT Skills Inventory and Gap Assessment Tool to map the skills of your service desk agents.

    Info-Tech Insight

    Time spent in training is never wasted.
    Insufficient training will complicate the roll-out of the continual improvement plan. Ensure that groups receive the support they need to be successful. That begins with understanding the abilities of your service desk agents.

    Skills Inventory Gap Analysis

    This Image shows the Skills Coverage Tool. It shows Skill Level Required; Coverage Requirement; Coverage Sufficiency; and Coverage Sufficiency Excluding Managers for a number of Current Support Area Desktop Applications

    Take a deeper dive into employee development and staffing requirements with the IT Skills Inventory Tool

    1.6 Evaluate skills gaps across your staff to identify training needs

    As part of your service desk assessment, move from analyzing tasks to skill sets. Build a training and staffing plan that will fill existing gaps and guard against new ones.

    The Skills Table tab in the IT Skills Inventory and Gap Assessment Tool will help you to:

    List skills required to support the organization.

    Document and rate the skills of the existing IT staffing contingent.

    Assess the gaps to help determine hiring or training needs, or even where to pare back.

    Build a strategy for knowledge sharing, transfer, and training.

    This Image shows the Skills Coverage Tool. It shows Skill Level Required; Coverage Requirement; Coverage Sufficiency; and Coverage Sufficiency Excluding Managers for a number of Current Support Area Desktop Applications

    Note: This tool will help IT managers build toward a more flexible, balanced skill set for their IT department. This tool can be completed as a step in the service desk assessment, or listing required skills could be done quickly as a group activity.

    Assess your service desk to create a plan for improvement

    1.7 Assess your current state

    Recommended Participants

    • CIO/IT Director
    • IT Manager
    • Service Manager

    Establish current state of the service desk.

    • Answer the questions about current state in the Environment and Maturity Survey tabs of Info-Tech’s Service Desk Assessment to assess the health of your service desk.
    • This tool provides insight into the overall health of your service desk based on:
      • Process maturity
      • A series of metrics
    • Data-driven visibility of the health of your service desk will help you clearly identify areas of improvement.
      • The best choices for areas of improvement may not necessarily be those with the lowest score.
      • The goal of continual improvement is not to strictly avoid negative outcomes, but to achieve new ones.

    Document as you go:

    Document the outcome of the discussion in the Continual Improvement Plan, Section 2.6.

    This image contains a screenshot of the Service Assessment, which offers an overall maturity score for the service desk, and scores for several subcategories, As well as six of the most indicative metrics for overall service desk health.

    Focus the continual improvement plan: Case Study

    Challenge Solution Results

    The role of service manager at CERN included the key duties of support, consolidation, and evolution of services.

    The burden of the support part of the role was identified as a project trigger and action was taken to improve the support role.

    Proper identification of a project trigger allowed action to be taken to correct that issue.

    Since the support load for the service manager was deemed to be substantial, optimization of the duty was chosen as the solution.

    Trigger identification allowed CERN to determine:

    A CSF: effective ticketing system with workflows for ticket management.

    KPIs: ticket escalation, first-call ticket resolution.

    Metrics: percentage of tickets reaching Tier 2 or higher agents.

    This process of identification and focus allowed effective workflows to be established in order to progress to the next phase of the CIP.

    Phase 2

    Build the Continual Improvement Plan

    Phase 2 outline

    Call 1-888-670-8889 or email GuidedImplementations@InfoTech.com for more information.

    Complete these steps on your own, or call us to complete a guided implementation. A guided implementation is a series of 2-3 advisory calls that help you execute each phase of a project. They are included in most advisory memberships.

    Guided Implementation 2: Build a Continual Improvement Plan
    Proposed Time to Completion (in weeks): 4

    Step 2.1: Identify & prioritize improvement initiatives
    Start with an analyst kick off call:

    • Review the results of the service desk audit.
    • Review relevant service desk continual improvement initiatives common in the industry.
    Then complete these activities…
    • Brainstorm CSI initiatives and record in CSI register.
    • Use the CSI register tool to prioritize initiatives.
    With these tools & templates:
    • Service Desk Assessment Tool
    • Service Desk Continual Improvement Plan
    • Service Desk Efficiency Calculator

    Step 2.2: Build continual improvement action plan

    Review findings with analyst:

    • Review the improvement initiatives selected.
    • Discuss best practices for building a continual improvement plan and strategic roadmap for the service desk.
    Then complete these activities…
    • Use the CSI Roadmap tool to build your action plan.
    With these tools & templates:
    • Continual Service Desk Improvement Roadmap
    • Service Desk Continual Improvement Plan

    Phase 2 Results & Insights: When you build out your continual improvement plan, it is crucial to have your priorities in order. The best approach is to select “quick wins” that can demonstrate immediate benefits for the business, assisting with organizational buy-in for the CIP. Once these quick wins are implemented and buy-in is established, major projects that require more effort can be undertaken.

    Step 4 – Identify and prioritize improvement initiatives

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7
    Determine goals & objectives Identify critical success factors Conduct a full assessment of your service desk Prioritize improvement initiatives Build continual improvement action plan Monitor progress Measure outcome

    This step will walk you through the following activities:

    • Brainstorm CSI initiatives and record in CSI Register
    • Service Desk Efficiency Calculator
    • Use the CSI Register tool to prioritize initiatives

    This step involves the following participants:

    • Service Manager
    • IT Manager
    • CIO
    • Tier 2/3 Specialists

    Outcomes of this step

    • Identification of major initiatives.
    • Identification of quick wins.
    • Selection of projects for continual improvement cycle.

    Consolidate and analyze the information gathered in phase one to identify improvement initiatives

    Now that you have assessed your service desk and have performance metrics, end-user feedback, and agent feedback, the next step is to consolidate all of that information to identify improvement initiatives.

    1. Process the data
      • Once data is gathered, the next step is to process the data and condense all the information you collected into manageable reports. Process the data in a way that will make it as simple as possible to analyze the data and get a clear picture of where improvements are needed.
    2. Analyze the data
      • Once data is gathered, the next step is to process the data and condense all the information you collected into manageable reports. Process the data in a way that will make it as simple as possible to analyze the data and get a clear picture of where improvements are needed.
    3. Compare the data
      • Compare the data against your goals, objectives, CSFs, and KPIs, as well as the business vision.
        It is important to be open and honest at this stage.

    Consider improvements in strategy, practice, and process

    Improvement initiatives may fall under three categories:

    Improving the strategy of the service desk can ensure it will maintain suitability in a changing landscape.

    Examples include:

    • Adjusting strategy and/or security requirements.
    • Training and information gathering.

    Improving practice can increase the effectiveness of services that are provided.

    Examples include:

    • Implementing new services.
    • Implementing new processes and organizational structures.
    • Ceasing unnecessary actions.

    Improving processes can increase the efficiency of services and processes.

    Examples include:

    • Refining processes.
    • Renewing technology.
    • Organizational changes.

    Frame your approach in terms of people, process, and technology

    People This may include staff training or replacing staff.
    Process Creating a new process for performing certain functions.
    Technology Implementing new software or fixing hardware issues.

    Create a CSI register to track improvement suggestions

    A CSI register is a place to record all the improvement initiatives that you may be considering. Most tools do not have modules for these registers, but it can take the form of a simple spreadsheet, and will allow you to manage, track, and prioritize improvement suggestions.

    Consider tracking the following information in your CSI register, adjusted to meet the needs of your organization:

    Category Description
    Opportunity number Identify each initiative with a unique number or ID for reference.
    Date submitted Track when the idea was added to the register.
    Description Brief description of what the improvement initiative entails.
    Value Expected benefits of the improvement initiative.
    Effort Expected effort the improvement initiative will require.
    Priority How urgent is the improvement? Categorized based on impact and effort.
    Responsible Identify who will own this opportunity and ensure it is completed. Consider also separating out the individual who submitted the idea and the individual who should review the idea.
    Status Track the status of the initiative (e.g. proposed, under review, rejected, approved, in process, completed).

    Populate your register with ideas that come from your first round of assessments, and use this document to continually add and track new ideas as they emerge

    You can also consider using the register to track the outcome, cost, and benefit of improvement initiatives after they have been completed.

    Brainstorm CIP initiatives and record in CSI register

    2.1 Brainstorm improvement initiatives

    Time Allotment: 1 hour

    Recommended Participants

    • CIO/IT Director
    • IT Manager
    • Service Manager
    • CSI Manager
    1. Analyze the assessment data collected throughout phase one and using the Assessment Tool.
      • From the data, identify trends, gaps, and areas of weakness that arose through the assessment and feedback collected from end users and service desk staff.
    2. Use this data to generate a list of initiatives that should be undertaken in order to improve the performance of the service desk.
    3. Record each suggestion in the CSI register, along with associated information including a description of the activity, expected benefits or value, required effort, and who will be responsible for managing the initiative. The tool will automatically categorize each initiative in terms of priority based on the value and effort.
    4. This list will be continually refreshed and maintained throughout the CSI process. You will use this list to select your highest priority initiatives with which to begin the improvement cycle.
      • Use the Service Desk Efficiency Calculator (described in activity 2.2) to quantify initiatives to assist in prioritization.

    Document as you go:

    Record improvement initiatives in the CSI register in Tab 2 of the Continual Improvement Roadmap tool.

    This image shows the CSI Register.  A CSI register is a place to record all the improvement initiatives that you may be considering.  Use this document to continually add and track new ideas as they emerge.  1. Identify four task categories; 2. Populate your register with ideas that come from your first round of assessments.  The 4 task types are People; Process; Technology; Communications.

    Use the Service Desk Efficiency Calculator to quantify the productivity gains of improving the service desk

    2.2 Service Desk Efficiency Calculator

    Recommended Participants

    • CIO/IT Director
    • IT Manager
    • Service Manager
    • CSI Manager
    1. Define the number of productive hours an employee has in an average year and the average employee costs.
      • Review the average annual employee productive hours and the average employee costs outlined in Section 1, Tab 2 of the Service Desk Efficiency Calculator. The section is prepopulated with a feasible case involving an IT department.
    2. Define the average call resolution time, ticket volume, ticket distribution, and total number of end users supported.
      • With the target unit’s current processes in mind, estimate:
        • The average cost per ticket or contact.
        • The average resolution time.
        • The number of tickets annually from all channels.
        • The average ticket distribution between tiers (if any).
        • The number of end users supported by the target department.
    3. Estimate targeted reductions in average call resolution time and ticket volume.
      • Improving incident, request, and knowledge management processes should reduce ticket volume and average call resolution time.

    This is a set of three images, including the Service Desk Efficiency Calculator; Section 1: Determine the average hours worked by one full-time employee in a year, and the average employee cost; and Section 2: Determine target staffing levels, and the current cost of tickets resolved at each tier.

    Optional – Review the results of the Service Desk Efficiency Calculator to build the case for the initiative

    2.3 Review the results

    Time Allotment: 2 hours

    The third tab of the tool will quantify:

    • Service Desk Staffing
      • The impact of different ticket distribution on service desk staffing levels.
    • Service Desk Ticket Resolution Cost
      • The impact of different ticket distributions on ticket resolution costs.
    • Service Management Efficiency
      • The business impact of service management initiatives, specifically, the time lost or captured in service management processes relative to an average full-time employee equivalent.

    Prepare to facilitate a discussion.

    Focus on the efficiency gains expected from the project. Review the expected gains in average resolution time, the expected service desk ticket reductions, and the associated productivity gains.

    In the case of most business units, the expected service desk ticket reduction will correspond to a reduction in the number of internal client contacts the unit expects as a result of the project.

    Document as you go:

    Document the outcome of the Service Desk Efficiency Calculator, if desired, in the Continual Improvement Plan, Section 3.1.

    This is a set of 3 examples from the service desk efficiency calculator, including the Service Desk Staffing: <em data-verified=how many service desk agents do I need at each tier; Average Ticket Resolution Cost; and Service Management Efficiency">

    Identify “quick wins” that can provide immediate improvement

    Prioritize these “quick wins” in order to immediately demonstrate the success of the continual service improvement effort to the business.

    1. Keep the scope of the continual improvement process manageable at the beginning by focusing on a few key areas that you want to improve.
    2. From your list of proposed improvements, focus on a few of the top pain points and plan to address those.
    3. Choose the right services to improve at the first stage of continual improvement to ensure that the continual improvement process delivers value to the business.
    • If you have identified “pain points,” addressing these will demonstrate the value of the project to the business to gain their support.
    • Choose the services or processes that continue to disrupt or threaten service – focus on where pain points are evident and where there is a need for improvement.
    • Critical services to improve should emerge from the service desk assessment.

    Use the CSI Register tool to prioritize initiatives

    2.4 Prioritize Initiatives in a two-by-two plot

    Time Allotment: 60 minutes

    Recommended Participants

    • CIO/IT Director
    • IT Manager
    • Service Manager
    • Tier 2/3 Specialists
    1. Open the Continual Improvement Roadmap tool.
    2. Go to tab 2 and rank all of opportunities in terms of value and effort on a scale of -5 to 5.
    3. Use the two-by-two matrix to examine where your opportunities fall in terms of impact and effort.
      • The opportunities in the top right are major projects; they are both high impact and high effort.
      • The opportunities in the top left are quick wins; they are low effort but high impact.
    4. Select four of these opportunities (a mix of quick wins and major projects) and input them into the CSI Roadmap tool in tab 3.

    these are screenshots of the CSI register matrix, and the CSI register

    Document as you go

    Document the four selected opportunities in the Continual Improvement Plan, Section 3.2.

    The importance of prioritizing initiatives and identifying quick wins: Case Study

    Challenge Solution Results

    The service desk for a large insurance company in Sweden only used their in-house service desk to sort tickets, but the support professionals who handled tickets were located at a facility in India.

    Some tickets were very complex, and the language barrier between the two service desks amplified this challenge.

    The service desk had a high workload and high volume of tickets, which led to a high backlog.

    The company conducted a trend analysis on tickets received and found that almost 50% were service requests. It was suggested that two full-time staff be hired to handle only service requests.

    A gap analysis revealed that the knowledgebase of the service desk was not being updated regularly. A simple, automated knowledgebase was developed in order to alleviate the burden on the service desk, and regular training sessions were initiated to train staff and add current issues to the knowledgebase.

    A translator was hired to deal with the language barrier.

    The ticket backlog was drastically reduced.

    Simple tickets can now be dealt with onsite. More complex tickets can be sent to the experts working at the service desk in India.

    The knowledgebase can be continually updated because of the time freed up by the reduction in ticket backlog.

    Three small fixes made huge differences that demonstrated immediate, measurable improvement that was visible to the business.

    Step 5 – Build continual improvement action plan

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7
    Determine goals & objectives Identify critical success factors Conduct a full assessment of your service desk Prioritize improvement initiatives Build continual improvement action plan Monitor progress Measure outcome

    This step will walk you through the following activities

    • Use the CSI Roadmap tool to build your action plan.

    This step involves the following participants:

    • Service Manager
    • IT Manager
    • CIO
    • Tier 2/3 Specialists

    Outcomes of this step

    • Action Plan Roadmap for the Continual Improvement Plan

    Use the Deming cycle to improve the performance of the service desk and consolidate your gains

    How does the continual improvement cycle work?

    Continual service improvement embraces Deming’s four-step cycle:

    Plan, Do, Check, Act

    • Plan:
      • Develop a plan for improvement.
      • Collect data to inform the improvement cycle.

    • Do:
      • Plan improvement solutions and implement actions.

    • Check:
      • Analyze data and evaluate results.
      • Determine what went well and what didn’t.

    • Act:
      • Reflect on the process.
      • From the evaluation, implement changes to the CSI process.
      • Complete cycle and begin the next improvement cycle.
    A graph demonstrating how Standardization and Continual Improvement, as well as the Plan-Do-Check-Act strategy can increase Quality Improvement over time. <

    The Deming Cycle is embedded in this five-step CSI model

    The approach to continual improvement that this blueprint follows is based on this five-step CSI model, which is in line with the Deming plan, do, check, act approach and the ITIL seven-step continual service improvement process.

    This image shows a 5 step CSI model, along with the Deming Cycle.  the 5 steps are: 1. What is the vision?; Clearly understand the business vision, strategy, goals, and objectives to ensure that the CSI initiative will support them. 2. Where are we now? Perform an initial assessment of availability and/or performance of services to establish a baseline. 3. Where do we want to be? Set measurable targets for improvement based on business vision (e.g. a new maturity level for processes). 4. How do we get there? Compare current state to desired state to identify priorities and objectives for CSI. Build an action plan with specific projects and timeframes. 5. Did we get there? Conduct another assessment using appropriate measurements to determine if improvements have been achieved. 6. How do we keep the momentum Ensure the changes will be sustained. going? Repeat the CSI process; improvement should be continual.

    Create a specific action plan to guide your improvement activities

    As part of the continual improvement plan, it will be important to identify specific actions to be completed, along with ownership for each action.

    The continual improvement process must: For each action, identify: Choosing timelines
    • Define activities to be completed.
    • Create roles and assign ownership to complete these activities.
    • Provide training and awareness about the initiative.
    • Define inputs and outputs.
    • Include reporting.
    • The problem.
    • Who will be responsible and accountable.
    • Metric(s) for assessment.
    • Baseline and target metrics.
    • Action to be taken to achieve improvement (training, new templates, etc.).
    • It is important to have firm timelines to keep the project on track.
    • One to two months for an initiative is an ideal length of time to maintain interest and enthusiasm for the specific project and achieve a result.

    Info-Tech Insight

    Every organization is unique in terms of its services, processes, strengths, weaknesses, and needs, and the expectations of its end users. There is no single action plan that will work for everyone. The improvement plan will vary from organization to organization, but the key elements of the plan (i.e. specific priorities, timelines, targets, and responsibilities) should always be in place.

    Use the CSI Roadmap tool to build your action plan

    2.5 Break down your CIP initiatives into tasks and timelines

    Time Allotment: 60 minutes

    Recommended Participants

    • CIO/IT Director
    • IT Manager
    • Service Manager
    • CSI Manager
    • Service Desk Analysts
    1. Open the Continual Improvement Roadmap tool and navigate to Tab 3.
    2. The four opportunities selected from Tab 2 (the CSI register) will be imported into Tab 3 of the tool. For each initiative, list all of the specific corresponding tasks that will need to be completed.
    3. Identify an owner and manager for each task to ensure accountability.
    4. Prioritize the tasks in the spreadsheet in terms of start and end date. For each task, clearly mark the start month with an “S”.
      • Each task listed must have a start date for the tool to work properly.
    5. Go to Tab 4 to view the sunshine diagram representing tasks to be completed over the improvement cycle, and share with relevant stakeholders.

    Document as you go

    Document the outcome of the roadmap in the Continual Improvement Plan, Section 3.3.

    This is a screenshot of the Continual Improvement Roadmap

    Build the continual improvement plan: Case Study

    Challenge Solution Results

    After the service desk team at CERN identified that the support function of their service manager and service desk agents needed to improve, they identified a CSF, KPIs, and metrics to track and measure.

    The next challenge was to prioritize the initiatives based on the questions: what can we measure in an easy way and how can we achieve it?

    This is the content for Layout P Tag

    The team decided to focus on a few key metrics:

    1. Number of open and closed requests per service
    2. Weekly number of open and closed incidents per service
    3. Number and percentage of those tickets solved by each support level
    4. Ticket solution time

    The service desk team was able to quickly put their plan into motion because they selected a low effort, high impact opportunity.

    With the help of the ServiceNow tool, they were able to choose tasks that could be automated and easily extracted and analyzed.

    The analysis and measurement component of their metrics contributed to the success of the efforts of the monitoring and reporting of their CIP.

    If you want additional support, have our analysts guide you through this phase of an Info-Tech workshop

    Book a workshop with our Info-Tech analysts

    Book a workshop with our Info-Tech analysts:
    this is a picture of an Info-Tech analyst
    • To accelerate this project, engage your IT team in an Info-Tech workshop with an Info-Tech analyst team.
    • Info-Tech analysts will join you and your team onsite at your location or welcome you to Info-Tech’s historic Toronto office to participate in an innovative onsite workshop.
    • Contact your account manager (www.infotech.com/account), or email Workshops@InfoTech.com for more information.
    The following are sample activities that will be conducted by Info-Tech analysts with your team:
    This is a sample of the diagnostic tool used by Info-Tech analysts Review the results of your diagnostic programs to inform your current state assessment
    Our analysts will walk you through the results of our diagnostic programs to give you a data-driven assessment of your Service Desk to help focus your continual improvement plan.
    This is an image of a sample of the CSI Roadmap tool Use the CSI Roadmap tool to build your action plan
    Our analysts will help you prioritize initiatives so you can plot quick wins and major projects to build an effective continual improvement plan.

    PHASE 3

    Run the Continual Improvement Plan

    Guided Implementation 3: Run the Continual Improvement Plan
    Proposed Time to Completion (in weeks): 4

    Step 3.1: Monitor Progress

    Start with an analyst kick off call:
    • Review the details of the draft service desk continual improvement plan.
    • Discuss best practices.
    Then complete these activities…
    • Communicate the benefits of improvement initiatives to key stakeholders.
    With these tools & templates:
    • Continual Improvement Plan

    Step 3.2: Measure Outcome

    Review findings with analyst:
    • Review progress of communication plan.
    • Discuss progress of project.
    Then complete these activities…
    • Evaluate success of each improvement initiative where possible.
    • Reflect on each project to identify key lessons learned.
    With these tools & templates:
    • Continual Improvement Plan
    Phase 3 Results & Insights: To be effective, your CIP requires open and honest feedback from the service desk team. Knowledge exchange should continuously occur between all levels of the Service Desk to keep the projects on track, and thoughtful evaluation and reflection on completed projects will ensure that lessons learned will improve both the service desk and the continual improvement process itself in the future to keep the momentum going.

    Step 6 – Monitor progress

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7
    Determine goals & objectives Identify critical success factors Conduct a full assessment of your service desk Prioritize improvement initiatives Build continual improvement action plan Monitor progress Measure outcome

    This step will walk you through the following activities:

    • Create your communication plan

    This step involves the following participants:

    • Service Manager
    • IT Manager
    • CIO
    • Service Desk Analysts

    Outcomes of this step

    • Communication Plan

    Regularly monitor progress to ensure improvement is proceeding according to action plan timeline

    The success rate for continual improvement efforts is less than 60 percent. A major – if not the biggest – factor affecting the deployment of long-term continual improvement initiatives today is the fundamental change taking place in the way companies manage and execute work. (Deloitte, 2014 )

    • Pick a schedule and stick to it.
    • A lack of commitment can make service desk improvement difficult to implement and hard to sustain.
    • Commitment is often the most difficult obstacle to overcome, as change is a very difficult concept for some teams to adopt.
      • New habits are notoriously difficult to adopt, and old habits are equally as difficult to shake.
      • A new habit can take a little over two months to be embraced.
    • Provide updates through regular reports or newsletters to “rally the troops” and maintain enthusiasm for the project across the service desk team, company, and end users.
    • Regular monitoring keeps the process proactive and not reactive.

    Establish regular meetings to increase service desk team commitment.

    Embed the change into the culture. Change is often negatively received because it is dictated instead of massaged into the service desk culture.

    • Consider holding a team meeting every week to discuss improvement and challenges, and implementing daily, weekly, and monthly reports to highlight key areas of improvement.
      • Automate reports based on key metrics if possible.
    • Make these meetings engaging and short.
    • Encourage contribution and thought leadership from all levels to make every contributor feel valued and engaged.
    • Knowledge exchange should be the top priority.

    Communicate effectively with staff and end users to maintain enthusiasm

    1. Throughout the improvement process it’s important to share information about both the status of the project and impact of the improvement initiative(s).
      • Encourage a collaborative environment across all members of the service desk.
        Motivate every individual to continue moving upwards and take ownership over their roles.
      • Communication among team members ensures that everyone is on the same page working together toward a common goal.
      • The most important thing is to get the support of your team. Unless you have their support, you won’t be able to deliver any of the solutions you draw up.
    2. The end users should be kept in the loop so they can feel that their contribution is valued.
      • End users who call into the service desk will not be able to make the distinction if it’s the service desk that’s providing a poor service or some other part of IT.
      • In order for end users to feel their concerns are being taken into account, it’s important to communicate the findings in a way that they will understand the impact of their contribution.

    Info-Tech Insight

    To be effective, CSI requires open and honest feedback from IT staff. Debriefings work well for capturing information about lessons learned. Break down the debriefings into smaller, individual activities completed within each phase of the project to better capture the large amount of data and lessons learned within that phase.

    Empower your staff by giving them ownership for their role

    Don’t dictate change, delegate it.
    Assign improvement initiatives to various members of your team; have them take ownership in the continual improvement process by making them directly responsible for the improvements.

    Consider recognizing or rewarding staff to keep motivation high.
    For example, if your goal is reducing the number of level one tickets by implementing a more effective knowledgebase (KB), have a rewards system in place for employees who take the initiative to write KB articles.

    Rotate Reflect Reward
    Allow employees to develop a skill set that complements their professional goals and carries benefits beyond the service desk to the whole organization. This will align their goals to your success as a service desk. Build team meetings and one-on-ones into your process. This will help you identify pain points before they arise – both personal and technical. Team meetings will also accelerate the process of developing solutions. Core compensation is one thing; forward-looking incentives are another. Some forward-looking service desks are providing incentives and rewards for tangibles such as “Knowledgebase Article of the Week.”

    Info-Tech Insight

    An effective service desk not only satisfies end users, but it also satisfies employees.

    A lot of companies don’t realize the true cost of losing someone. While they may say “we’ll train someone else,” in reality they’ve invested a large amount of time and training into someone and when they go out the door, that loss is difficult to quantify.

    Monitor progress effectively by using small teams

    When tracking progress and analyzing metrics, data is easier to gather, share, and measure if it is gathered in small teams.

    Individual process components are easier to identify, and multiple instances of the same process performed by different individuals allows managers to pinpoint what obstacles are in place.
    A mistake detected in one team doesn’t provide compelling evidence for a correction unless there is another team in your organization to compare it with.

    • For example, let’s say your goal is to decrease the average ticket through-put time by 25 percent in three months.
    • After one month’s time, you notice that your average time has only decreased by 5%.
    • If you measured the performance of your service desk as one group, it would be harder to accurately measure performance.
    • However, if your service desk was broken into small groups and analyzed as such, you could identify that three of your five level one technicians are struggling with ticket escalation, despite the fact that the single group data showed that level two technicians were processing tickets effectively.

    Info-Tech Insight

    The multiple small group approach allows you to break up the service desk system and employ a systems-based approach to make more accurate measurements of performance.

    Challenge Solution Results

    With automated data being gathered by ServiceNow, the service desk team at CERN needed to communicate and act effectively.

    Not only was proper monitoring of the data deemed crucial, but implementation of corrective actions needed to be done.

    The service desk team mandated weekly service meetings in order to facilitate the exchange of knowledge between various levels of the service desk.

    Data for tickets processed were analyzed each week and any novel solutions or obstacles encountered were shared with the service desk team.

    Lessons learned were regularly shared, and the team worked together to formulate solutions.

    The percentage of tickets solved by level two technicians increased from 25% to 43%; an increase of around 1,000 tickets.

    Ten training tutorials were given in the second year of the continual service improvement plan.

    Fifty new FAQs were written for the knowledgebase, which originated from discussions in the weekly service meeting.

    Create your communications plan to anticipate challenges, remove obstacles, and ensure buy-in

    Provide separate communications to key stakeholder groups.

    This image shows the pathway of communications, from Technicians to Management to End Users Who: Who will be affected? Who do I go to if I have issues with the new process?
    What: What processes will it affect (that will affect me)?
    When: When will this be happening? When will it affect me?
    Why: What problems are you trying to solve?
    How: How will these changes manifest themselves?
    Goal: What is the final goal? How will it benefit me?

    Communicate the benefits of improvement initiatives to each group of key stakeholders

    3.1 Build a communication plan for each group of affected stakeholders

    Recommended Participants:

    • CIO/IT Director
    • IT Manager
    • CSI Manager
    • Service Manager
    1. Identify the groups that will be affected by any improvement initiatives as those who will require communication.
    2. For each group requiring a communication plan, identify the following:
      • Benefits of the improvement for that group of individuals (e.g. more efficient processes).
      • The impact the change will have on them (e.g. change in the way a certain process will work).
      • Communication method (i.e. how you will communicate).
      • Timeframe (i.e. when and how often you will communicate the changes).
    3. Complete this information in a table like the one below and document in your continual improvement plan.
    Group Benefits Impact Communication method Timeframe
    Service Desk
    IT
    End Users
    Business

    Document as you go

    Document your communication plan in the Continual Improvement Plan, Section 4.1.

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7
    Determine goals & objectives Identify critical success factors Conduct a full assessment of your service desk Prioritize improvement initiatives Build continual improvement action plan Monitor progress Measure outcome

    This step will walk you through the following activities:

    • Measure progress or success of each initiative.
    • Reflect on lessons learned.

    This step involves the following participants:

    • Service Manager
    • IT Manager
    • CIO
    • Tier 2/3 Specialists

    Outcomes of this step

    • List of lessons learned to apply to future continual improvement projects.

    Measure changes in selected metrics to evaluate success

    Measuring and reporting are key components in the improvement process.

    Did you get there?

    Part of the measurement phase should include a review of CSFs, KPIs, and metrics determined in phase one. Some may need to be replaced.

    After a change has been implemented, it is important to regularly monitor and evaluate the CSFs, KPIs, and metrics you chose to evaluate whether the change you implemented has actually resolved the issue or achieved the goal of the critical success factor.

  • Establish a schedule for regularly reviewing key metrics that were identified in Step 2 and assessing change in those metrics and progress toward reaching objectives.
  • In addition to reviewing CSFs, KPIs, and metrics, check in with service desk staff and end users to measure their perceptions of the change once an appropriate amount of time has passed.
  • Ensure that metrics are telling the whole story and that reporting is honest in order to be informative.
  • Outcomes of the CSI process should include:

    • Improved efficiency, effectiveness, and quality of service and processes.
    • Services and processes more aligned with the business needs and strategy.
    • Improved maturity of service and processes.

    Info-Tech Insight

    Make sure you’re measuring the right things and considering all sources of information. It’s very easy to put yourself in a position where you’re congratulating yourselves for improving on a specific metric such as FCR, when in fact tickets are being closed before they’re resolved and customer satisfaction has not increased.

    Reflect on lessons learned to drive change forward

    What did you learn?

    Ultimately, continual improvement is an ongoing educational program.

    By teaching your team how to learn better and identify sources of new knowledge that can be applied going forward, you maximize the efficacy of your team and improvement plan effort.

    As you learn, you can use that learning to improve your processes.

    What obstacles prevented you from reaching your target condition?

    If you did not reach your target goals, reflect as a team on what obstacles prevented you from reaching that target.

    Focus on the obstacles that are preventing your team from reaching the target state.

    As obstacles are removed, new ones will appear and old ones will disappear.

    This is an image of flow chart showing the pathway of expectations vs reality.  The steps are as follows: Compare the EC (expected change) to the AC (actual change); Evaluate the differences: are they different than expected?; If the difference is small, things are on track and the issue could have simply been an issue with timing of the improvement.; If the difference is large, more reflection is needed. Perhaps it is a gap in understanding the goal or a poor execution of the action plan.; Regardless of the cause, large differences between the EC and the AC provide great learning opportunities about how to approach change in the future.

    Avoid pointing fingers when addressing corrections to the CIP

    Be hard on issues, but soft on people.

    1. Normally a person is not the problem, but a person is doing something they should or shouldn’t be going. Therefore it’s a fault with the process or a behavior.
    2. Understand why that person isn’t doing something – perhaps they don’t have the time, there is no clear prioritization scheme, the processes they’re running need reviewing, or they just need additional coaching or training.
    3. When undertaking CSI in an organization, don’t assume that people are the root of all problems. Gain the mentality that if something isn’t running well, you are failing people, people aren’t failing the organization.

    Info-Tech Insight

    If someone isn’t completing a task on time, it may be because their workload is too high; thus the process needs to change rather than the person.

    Celebrate and share success to demonstrate the value of the improvement initiative

    Demonstrate the Value

    Share

    i) Improvements ii) Benefits achieved through improvements iii) ROI iv) VOI (extra value created by benefits)

    Using

    i) Quantified metrics ii) Qualitative comparisons of current versus previous quality of service iii) Positive end-user feedback

    With

    i) Service desk staff/IT ii) Business leaders iii) Key stakeholders

    Via

    i) Visually appealing graphs and charts of trends in metrics ii) Quotes from end users iii) A newsletter or bulletin iv) Regular meetings

    • Highlight the successes as it relates to your service desk agents; demonstrate that successes were due to their efforts.
    • Demonstrate the value of the project to the business organization.
    • Highlight the realized benefits of the project that you identified at the beginning to the business.
    • Even if not every aspect was successful, be sure to celebrate the small successes, and continue to learn and improve.

    Reflect on improvement initiatives to identify lessons learned

    • By reflecting on lessons learned, new knowledge is identified and shared with the continual improvement team.
    • The ongoing process of continual improvement not only improves processes, but the knowledge gained about them.
    • This knowledge can often be transferrable to separate projects in the future, so organizations can gain significant value from each new initiative undertaken in their CIP.
    Some questions to consider:
    1. How did the data compare to our expectations? Was the project successful?
    2. What obstacles, if any, were present that impacted the project?
    3. How can we apply lessons learned through this project to other projects?
    This is an image of a sample project cycle.  the headings are: Date, step, & metric(s); What did you expect; What happened; What did we learn, and the steps are: Select; Expect; Impact; Reflect; Apply

    Discuss project success and obstacles to identify key lessons learned

    3.2 Reflect on lessons learned

    Time Allotment: 60 minutes

    1. Select a project that was undertaken in your CIP from your CSI Register. List the date started, what the project entailed, and the metric(s) used in its measure.
    2. Drawing from your CSI Register, list your expectations for the project.
    3. Once the project has reached a stage of completion, list the impacts in a separate column.
    4. Reflect on and discuss what lessons were learned and how they can be applied to the start of the next cycle of the project.
    5. Apply the lessons learned in the reflection step to push the project forward into a new cycle.

    Document as you go

    Document measured outcome and lessons learned in the discussion in the Continual Improvement Plan, Sections 4.2 and 4.3.

    This is a screenshot of section 4.3 of the Continual Improvement Plan

    Be proactive with continual improvement, not reactive

    Many organizations only approach service improvement when they recognize that they’re in trouble.

    1. As a result, most improvement initiatives undertaken are reactionary.
    2. Because of the poor preparation and rushed nature of reactionary improvement initiatives, they are often Band-Aid solutions that are not sustained.
    3. CSI is something you continually do; it is not something you do only because you’re in trouble.
    4. Even if there is no pressing issue facing your organization, a true CSI state of mind should constantly spur your organization to dig for problems to solve, or search for good processes that can be turned into great ones.

    To be proactive and have an effective continual improvement process in place:

    1. Put CSI initiatives and processes into the annual budget.
    2. Revise job descriptions of certain employees to include time to brainstorm CSI initiatives.
    3. Make someone responsible for ensuring the change sticks.

    Info-Tech Insight

    Set a target state that reaches beyond business as usual. Continual improvement is about not only avoiding negative outcomes, but also achieving new outcomes beyond what you already know you can achieve.

    Think long term to sustain changes

    The continual improvement process is ongoing. When one improvement cycle ends, the next should begin in order to continually measure and evaluate processes.

    The goal of any framework is steady and continual improvement over time that resets the baseline to the current (and hopefully improved) level at the end of each cycle.

    Have processes in place to ensure that the improvements made will remain in place after the change is implemented. Each completed cycle is just another step toward your target state.

    Ensure that there is a continual commitment from management.
    Regularly monitor metrics as well as end-user feedback and feedback from service desk staff after the initial improvement period has ended. Use this information to plan the next improvement.

    CSI is a combination of attitudes, behavior, and culture.
    One improvement initiative is but one of many steps in the journey to the target state. It’s important to recognize that CSI is not only the process highlighted (to the right) by the green circle, but the blue oval and beyond.

    Info-Tech Insight

    Everything can be improved, even CSI itself.
    As part of the evaluation process, gather and evaluate feedback on the process employed for continual improvement, and consider improving the process moving forward if necessary.

    This image shows that the CSI improvement initiative takes many steps, and one cycle of CSI is only a single step in a larger process

    Insight breakdown

    Overarching Insights

    1. Lean into incremental improvements. Mature service desks with the capacity for change are ideally situated to respond to shifting business priorities.
    2. It’s easier to climb Mount Everest than to stay there. Without continual service improvement, sustained service desk quality will be temporary. Organizations need to put in place an ongoing process to audit, enhance, and sustain the performance of the service desk whatever its process maturity.

    Phase 1 Insight

    • Continual improvement must demonstrate its worth to the organization before the process can begin. By focusing the plan on organizational goals, you will generate support from within in order to effectively deploy the continual improvement plan in the future.

    Phase 2 Insight

    • When you build out your continual improvement plan, it is crucial to have your priorities in order. The best approach is to select “quick wins” that can demonstrate immediate benefits for the business, assisting with organizational buy-in for the CIP. Once these quick wins are implemented and buy-in is established, major projects that require more effort can be undertaken.

    Phase 3 Insight

    • To be effective, your CIP requires open and honest feedback from the service desk team. Knowledge exchange should continuously occur between all levels of the Service Desk to keep projects on track, and thoughtful evaluation and reflection on completed projects will ensure that lessons learned will improve both the service desk and the continual improvement process itself to keep the momentum going.

    Research contributors and experts

      Marko Jäntti
    • Marko Jäntti,
      Head of Research
      University of Eastern Finland
    • Dave Smith
    • Dave Smith,
      IT Trainer
      Quanta Training, Ltd.
    • No Image available
    • Vince Jennings,
      Technical Project Manager
      Alcatel-Lucent New Zealand
    • Brian McKenna
    • Brian McKenna,
      ITSM Consultant & Trainer
      Self-Employed
    • Attila Révfalvi
    • Attila Révfalvi,
      Senior Associate ISTA
      Amgen
    • Joseph Philpott
    • Joseph Philpott,
      Acting Director Service of Assurance
      Australian Dept. of Defence
    • No Image available
    • James Monroe,
      Computer
      Support Specialist
    • No Image available
    • Kathy Campbell,
      Technology Support Services Director
      Anne Arundel Community College
    • Dave O’Reardon
    • Dave O’Reardon,
      Founder & CEO
      Silversix
    • Ravi Prakash Singh
    • Ravi Prakash Singh,
      MS IS Student
      Stevens Institute of Technology
    • Gautam Bangalore
    • Gautam Bangalore,
      Business Analyst
      Sydney, Australia
    • Karen Clark
    • Karen Clark,
      CIO OrthoTennessee
    • No Image available
    • Rick Hamilton,
      Support Services Manager
      Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort
    • Jay Lentz
    • Jay Lentz,
      ITSM Manager CSI & SLM
      Southwest Airlines
    • Marc Fransen
    • Marc Fransen,
      Service Desk Technician
      Gemeente-Eindhoven
    • Rangesh Prasanna
    • Rangesh Prasanna,
      Infrastructure Process Consultant
      Nextera Energy

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    References

    Cabral, Fatima, Gary Case, and David Ratcliffe. “IT Service Desk Health Check & Action Plan.” Pink Elephant, 2003.

    Case, Gary. “Continual Service Improvement: Bringing It to Life.” Pink Elephant, August 2009.

    “Continual Service Improvement: The Catalyst for Service Desk Excellence and Enterprise Productivity.” Pomeroy, 2012.

    “Continuous Improvement: A MOF Companion Guide.” Microsoft, June 2010.

    Gerke, Kerstin, Konstantin Petruch, and Gerrit Tamm. “Optimization of Service Delivery through Continual Process Improvement: A Case Study.” INFORMATIK 2010 - Business Process and Service Science, Proceedings of ISSS and BPSC. 27 September - 1 October 2010, Leipzig Germany.

    ITIL Continual Service Improvement. London: TSO, 2007.

    Jäntti, Marko, and Terry Rout. “Improving IT Service Operation Processes.” Product-Focused Software Process Improvement. J. Heidrich et al. (Eds.). PROFES 2013, 2013. 359-362.

    Jäntti, Marko, Anup Shrestha, and Aileen Cater-Steel. “Towards an Improved IT Service Desk System and Processes: A Case Study.” International Journal on Advances in Systems and Measurements. 5 (2012): 203-215.

    Jones, Dave. “Continual Service Improvement - So What's It All About?” Pink Elephant, 11 September 2014.

    Kozina, Melita, and Emilija Tomičić. “Planning to Implement Continual Service Improvement Processes.” Central European Conference on Information & Intelligent Systems. September 2010.

    Linch, David, and Jason Bergstrom. “Building a Culture of Continuous Improvement in an Age of Disruption.” Deloitte LLP, 2014.

    Lithgo, Joe. “Top Ten Reasons to Apply Continual Improvement Out of the Gate.” Burlington, ON: Pink Elephant, 2008.

    Orr, Anthony. “Focus On: ITIL® Continual Service Improvement.” BMC Software, 2012.

    Probst, Jack, and Gary Case. “Integrating Six Sigma and ITIL® for Continual Service Improvement.” Pink Elephant, 2013.

    Rance, Stuart. “Building a CSI Culture.” The ITSM Review. 23 July 2014.

    Rumburg, Jeff, and Eric Zbikowski. “The Seven Most Important Performance Indicators for the Service Desk.” MetricNet.

    UCISA. “Chapter 12: Continual Improvement.” UCISA Information Security Management Toolkit Edition 1.0. 2015.

    Van Bon, Jan, Arjen de Jong, Mike Pieper. “The Power of Six Sigma for ITIL Continual Service Improvement.” IT Service Management - Global Best Practices. van Haren Publishing, 2008.

    Veihmeyer, John. “Global CEO Outlook 2015: The Growth Imperative in a More Competitive Environment.” KPMG International, July 2015.

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    Guided Implementation #1 - Focus
    • Call #1 - Determine the goals of the continual improvement plan, and align them to organizational goals and strategy.
    • Call #2 - Identify critical success factors for the project, conduct a service desk audit, and review the results.

    Guided Implementation #2 - Build
    • Call #1 - Brainstorm and prioritize continual improvement initiatives for the service desk.
    • Call #2 - Draw on the prioritized list of service desk initiatives to build a continual improvement plan and strategic roadmap.

    Guided Implementation #3 - Run
    • Call #1 - Build a plan to communicate progress, promote the benefits of the projects, and reflect on lessons learned.

    Authors

    Michel Hebert

    Natalie Sansone

    Contributors

    • Marko Jantti, Head of Research, University of Eastern Finland
    • Dave Smith, IT Trainer, Quanta Training Ltd.
    • Vince Jennings, Technical Project Manager, Alcatel-Lucent New Zealand
    • Brian McKenna, ITSM Consultant & Trainer, Self-Employed
    • Joseph Philpott, Acting Director Service of Assurance, Australian Dept. of Defence
    • Attila Revfalvi, Senior Associate ISTA, Amgen
    • James Monroe, Computer Support Specialist
    • Dave O’Reardon, Founder & CEO, Silversix
    • Ravi Prakash Singh, MS IS Student, Stevens Institute of Technology
    • Gautam Bangalore, Business Analyst, Sydney, Australia
    • Karen Clark, CIO, OrthoTennessee
    • Kathy Campbell, Technology Support Services Director, Anne Arundel Community College
    • Rangesh Prasanna, Infrastructure Process Consultant, Nextera Energy
    • Rick Hamilton, Support Services Manager, Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort
    • Jay Lentz, ITSM Manager CSI & SLM, Southwest Airlines
    • Marc Fransen, Service Desk Technician, Gemeente-Eindhoven
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