Service Level Management - Service measurement
An important beginning point for highlighting improvement is to establish baselines as markers or starting points for later comparison. Baselines are also used to establish an initial data point to determine if a service or process needs to be improved. As a result, it is important that baselines are documented, recognized and accepted throughout the organization. Baselines must be established at each level: strategic goals and objectives, tactical process maturity, and operational metrics and KPIs.
If a baseline is not initially established the first measurement efforts will become the baseline. That is why it is essential to collect data at the outset, even if the integrity of the data is in question. It is better to have data to question than to have no data at all.
Basically, there are four reasons to monitor and measure:
- To validate - monitoring and measuring to validate previous decisions
- To direct - monitoring and measuring to set direction for activities in order to meet set targets. It is the most prevalent reason for monitoring and measuring
- To justify - monitoring and measuring to justify, with factual evidence or proof, that a course of action is required
- To intervene - monitoring and measuring to identify a point of intervention including subsequent changes and corrective actions.
The four basic reasons to monitor and measure lead to three key questions: 'Why are we monitoring and measuring?', 'When do we stop?' and 'Is anyone using the data?' To answer these questions, it is important to identify which of the above reasons is driving the measurement effort. Too often, we continue to measure long after the need has passed. Every time you produce a report you should ask: 'Do we still need this?'
It is obvious that all the activities of the improvement process will assist CSI in some way. It is relatively simple to identify what takes places but the difficulty lies in understanding exactly how this will happen. The improvement process spans not only the management organization but the entire service lifecycle. This is a cornerstone of CSI.
Define what you should measure
At the onset of the service lifecycle, Service Strategy and Service Design should have identified this information. CSI can then start its cycle all over again at 'Where are we now?' This identifies the ideal situation for both the Business and IT.
Define what you can measure
This activity related to the CSI activities of 'Where do we want to be?' By identifying the new service level requirements of the business, the IT capabilities (identified through Service Design and implemented via Service Transition) and the available budgets, CSI can conduct a gap analysis to identify the opportunities for improvement as well as answering the question 'How do we get there?'
Gathering the data
In order to properly answer the 'Did we get there?' question, data must first be gathered (usually through Service Operations). Data is gathered based on goals and objectives identified. At this point the data is raw and no conclusions are drawn.
Processing the data
Here the data is processed in alignment with the CSFs and KPIs specified. This means that timeframes are coordinated, unaligned data is rationalized and made consistent, and gaps in the data are identified. The simple goal of this step is to process data from multiple disparate sources into an 'apples to apples' comparison. Once we have rationalized the data we can then begin analysis.
Analysing the data
Here the data becomes information as it is analysed to identify service gaps, trends and the impact on business. It is the analysing step that is most often overlooked or forgotten in the rush to present data to management..
Presenting and using the information
Here the answer to 'Did we get there?' is formatted and communicated in whatever way necessary to present to the various stakeholders an accurate picture of the results of the improvement efforts. Knowledge is presented to the business in a form and manner that reflects their needs and assists them in determining the next steps.
Implementing corrective action
The knowledge gained is used to optimize, improve and correct services. Managers identify issues and present solutions. The corrective actions that need to be taken to improve the service are communicated and explained to the organization. Following this step the organization establishes a new baseline and the cycle begins anew.
While these seven steps of measurement appear to form a circular set of activities, in fact, they constitute a knowledge spiral. In actual practice, knowledge gathered and wisdom derived from that knowledge at one level of the organization becomes a data input to the next.
Other ITIL Processes
- Configuration Management
- Service Desk Management
- Incident & Problem Management
- Change Management
- Release Management