Value, that's what we are really after. To get there you already know that you are going to need to ramp up a few practices and strengthen a few others through an improvement initiative.
That's the good news.
Your challenge, is “to do more with less”, which basically means that we need to improve without the getting additional resources to do the work.
Turning this challenge into an opportunity will enable you to really see what is working and where some extra attention needs to be placed. In the end you will be better able to articulate what improvements actually require additional resourcing, and what business outcomes you will achieve. Without even realizing it you will have already built out a business case with some pretty solid data to support it.
Before we get there though the first thing that we need to do is to define the scope for this phase of the continual improvement initiative. This is critical because scope creep can spiral this work out of control. Since we are working with limited resources, and let’s face it, you aren’t dropping your regular workload to work on this so your time is precious.
As part of your initial review activity you have identified some target areas:
Practices with little or no traction
- Problem Management
- IT Asset Management
Practices that are consistently followed
- Service Request Management
- Service Desk
- Incident Management
- Change Enablement
Step 1 - Scope
The scope in this example will be to improve Problem and IT Asset practices through some formalization. You might not have any resources right now, but that’s OK. We have already identified that these are currently ad-hoc activities so any formalization that can also impact the already established practices will be a great start.
Scope is where we want to be careful of enthusiasm, there may be loads of things to fix but sometimes stretching ourselves too thin will ultimately prevent us from getting anywhere.
Step 2 - As-is State
Formalize the practice by putting it down on paper. The as-is practice documentation does not have to be complicated or pages long. What it does need to indicate is:
- Who owns what within the practice. If we are using people with existing ownership ensure that they have buy in.
- What is the scope of the practice
- What the practice entails, steps and activities
- Inputs and outputs of the practice
- How we will measure success and, just as important, what the baseline looks like now
- Any areas where we don't know the answer or areas that no one does at all (This will speak to risks as a result of not doing this)
Step 3 - Communication
Despite the fact that you will be working closely with stakeholders you will still need to keep them and your leadership informed on the progress you are making. Do not assume they are aware of what is going on. This can be accomplished with weekly status updates to stakeholders. Include such things as timelines, successes and roadblocks. This can be done in a multitude of channels and styles so feel free to ask your organizational experts which methods will be the best for you.
Step 4 - Get help
As identified earlier, you don’t have any people who are solely allocated for this work, so gathering other resources from our more defined processes, especially those who have an interest in seeing these processes succeed is always a good idea. For example a resource(s) from Incident Management and Change Enablement could assist with the Problem Management and those within Service Request and Service Desk could help out with with Asset Management.
What this does actually is to facilitate the inputs from the less formalized practices into the more formalized practices by involving the right people from the start. The key is to keep the scope small and regularly review how things are working.
Step 5 - Realize you are never really done
Despite the fact that more 'mature' processes may not be initially reviewed, they too will require some review and improvements. You will find that as you improve one practice, others will also need some adjustments to improve right along side everything else.
Step 6 - Review
As part of your improvement cycle you should determine at what point you will be ready to implement the next phases of your continual improvement initiative. in some cases a small cycle with small improvements is a good place to start. Pick a cadence that makes sense for your organizational needs. As this is an improvement initiative you can even improve on that. you may find that the first review cycle is longer and then it can be shortened as you and the teams get the hang of it.
At some point you may reach a point where you will need to allocate resources or implement tools. This is where you will be able to use the work you have already put in to evaluate the ROI. By leveraging the initial baseline metrics vs the initial improvements get some sense of what the short term and longer term improvements on the practices you have implemented really look like. From there you will be able to quantify the value they add now, as well as the increased value you can expect going forward.
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