ITIL Continual Service Improvement | ITIL Foundation | ITSM

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What is Continual Service Improvement (CSI) in ITIL ITSM?

ITIL Continual Service Improvement (CSI) is the fifth and final Process-group of ITIL Service Management Lifecycle under ITIL’s IT Service Management Framework (ITSM). It aims to deal with measures to be adopted to improve the service quality by learning from past successes and failures. CSI also aligns and realigns IT Services to the changing business requirements by identifying and implementing changes for improvements. For doing this, it takes the similar approach described in Deming Cycle (Plan-Do-Check-Act). The ITIL Continual Service Improvement (CSI) actually describes the best practices for achieving incremental and large-scale improvements in services quality, operational efficiency, and business continuity. It effectively describes and utilizes the concept of Key Performance Indicator (KPI), which is a metrics-driven process, for reviewing, evaluating, and benchmarking performance of services.

ITIL Continual Service Improvement (CSI) Objective: 

According to ITIL v3, the primary objective of ITIL Continual Service Improvement (CSI) stage is to continually improve the quality, effectiveness, and efficiency of IT processes and services. Some other objectives of CSI are as follows:

  • Review and analyze improvement opportunities in every lifecycle phase
  • Analyze and evaluate Service Level achievement results.
  • Improve cost-effectiveness of delivered IT services without impacting on customer satisfaction.
  • Ensures alignment with quality management methods to support improvement activities.

This CSI process group (Stage) acts as a guide and provide continual feedback to every process groups (Service Strategy, Service Design, Service Transition, and Service Operation) of Service Management Life-Cycle. The Below Image shows the Flow of information between CSI & other processes and how it provides feedback to each of the processes. This is very important to remember that, this is not a static one-time process. Instead, as the name suggests, it is a continual process which runs in periodic cycles.

ITIL Continual Service Improvement (CSI) Approaches: 

This process follows a six-step approach for reviewing, evaluation, planning, and implementing the Improvement process. These approaches are nothing but some pre-defined questions, for which the CSI process tries to find answers. Those questions or approaches are as follows:

(i) What is the vision? : Describes and defines the long-term objective of the organization.

(ii) Where are we now?: Analyze the current position of the organization in terms of Business, organization, people, Process, and measures the present values of defined KPI.

(iii) Where do we want to be?: Describes the baseline objectives of the organization and defines the desired KPI values to be achieved.

(iv) How do we get there? Define Plans for achieving those objectives & KPI targets.

(v) Did we get there?: After implementing the plan, it is the self-assessment to be done to check whether we have touched those defined KPI benchmarks.

(vi) How do we keep up the momentum?: This is the state where the process control is again passed to the beginning for evaluation and re-planning of objectives.

7-Step Improvement Process of CSI: 

In This section, we would be learning about the 7-step improvement process of Continual Service Improvement (CSI) and their mapping with both CSI Approaches and the stages of Deming Cycle (Plan-Do-Check-Act).

These seven steps are typically followed sequentially as listed below:

1) Identify and Define the Improvement Strategy: This step Identifies the overall vision, business requirement, strategy, and goals.

2) Define What to Measure: In this step, the ITIL’s Service strategy and service design identify and defines performance benchmarks for processes or services.

Both step 1 & 2 are required to provide the answer to the first question of CSI Approach “What is the vision?”. And these steps are aligned with the “Plan” stage of Deming Cycle.

3) Collect the Data: This stage gathers raw data from live environment (ie:  service operation phase) for the purpose of processing & analysis.

4) Process the Data: The main objective of this step is to process the collected data to give it a context (converting to information) so that those data can be analyzed.

The above two steps (3 & 4) are used to answer the question “Where are we now?”, and complements the “Do” stage of Deming Cycle.

5) Analyze the Collected Data: It deals with analyzing the information to gain some logical insights about the trend of business operation, and answer the question “Where do we want to be?”.

6) Present and Use the Information: This step is responsible for searching the answer to “How do we get there?", and to communicate information insights to various stakeholders.

The above two steps (5 & 6) complements the “Check” stage of Deming Cycle.

7) Implement improvement: This step is responsible for the actual implementation of the improvement plan. This step applies the required change, optimization, and corrective actions on the identified processes or services and then hand-over the control to the beginning step for farther planning.

This step No 7 provides the answer to the questions “Did we get there?” & “How do we keep up the momentum?”. This step complements the “Act” stage of Deming Cycle.

The below figure illustrate these seven steps of Continual Service Improvement (CSI) and their mapping with both “CSI Approaches” and the stages of “Deming Cycle (Plan-Do-Check-Act)”.

Processes of ITIL Continual Service Improvement (CSI): 

As per ITIL v3, the following are the Four Main Processes of ITIL CSI process group, and the below image illustrates how they conformed to the 7-steps of Continual Service Improvement:

1> Service Review:  Responsible for reviewing business and infrastructure services on a regular basis. The aim of this process is to identify opportunity areas and search for more economical ways of offering services.

2> Process Evaluation: Responsible for evaluating processes on a regular basis to identifying areas where the targeted process metrics are not met. It also performs some regular tasks, such as benchmarking, audits, and reviews.

3> Definition of CSI Initiatives: Used to define specific initiatives aimed to improve the quality of services and processes. The steps are planned based on the results of service reviews and process evaluations.

4> Monitoring of CSI Initiatives: Used as a way to verify if the improvement initiatives are proceeding according to the plan and to introduce corrective measures if required.

Roles & Responsibilities Defined in ITIL Continual Service Improvement:

A list of all ITIL Roles and Responsibilities defined within Continual Service Improvement Module is available here: ITIL Roles Defined in Continual Service Improvementy.

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