Do any of these situations sound familiar?
- Your service delivery is not meeting the business expectations. In fact, when the business does engage you, they let you know that you are missing the mark.
- You have read about providing value to your business but are unsure how to provide something tangible.
- Your ability to provide service in a consistent way does not exist. In some cases, the business you support is happy, and in other cases they are not.
- You believe that service delivery is going well but are unsure if there is something more you could be doing.
If you answered yes to any of those, it’s time for an improvement initiative. The trouble is that while improvement is front of mind, many don’t know where to begin. Whether you are just starting out or already utilizing service management best practices, building a service management roadmap is crucial to getting you to the next level.
Where Do You Start?
This is the same question asked by those in the beginning and those with higher levels of maturity. The real answer is there is no one-size fits all method. To be effective, you need to keep the scope tight, activities agile, and the initiative right-sized for your organization. Once you understand this, you are ready to get to work.
Where Do You Want to Go?
Many people will look at this from a maturity scale, where 1 is low on the maturity scale 5 is the highest level. While the maturity scale might give you an overall placement in the grand scheme of things, what you really want to know is what level of maturity is going to be fit-for-purpose for your organization. Not everyone needs to be at a 5. So what does a successful 3 look like? A 3 would be in the realm of defined. The processes you are reviewing would be not only well understood but done on an organizational level. When we are talking about how well you provide service, those who are at a 3 can leverage the available processes consistently.
Ask for Help
There’s nothing wrong with asking for help. Be realistic. You might not have the bandwidth for resources to do this properly. This is not a side-of-the-desk activity. Gather additional resources with expertise at this. Yes, there might be a cost involved to getting the improvements you are looking for so be prepared to outline to those who hand out money what the benefits are and how they outweigh not improving at all. Depending on your organization, the nuances of running this as a project will vary, but you must consider the steps below.
Get the Right People Onboard
This is a service improvement journey, so get everyone you need on the bus right from the start. You need the support of your IT leadership to get this thing going, so start there. Outline all key stakeholders in IT and in the business. Have a kick-off party to get people excited, and keep them motivated by having regular updates with stakeholders.
This is a service improvement journey, so get everyone you need on the bus right from the start.
Assess the Current State
This step can be tough for teams who are working on these improvements on their own. There is a natural tendency to try to justify, solution, or explain why your organization is in the state it is in. You must be completely objective. Don’t get caught up in the excuses; they won’t provide any value or help in getting results. Alternatively, when an external resource puts the current state together, the details can be difficult to hear. However, your ability to maximize improvement is only possible if you can be completely transparent and accept your assessment. The assessment should include the following:
- A discussion with IT to gauge how the processes are working from their perspective
- A discussion on the provision of service from the end user perspective
- An actual review of the processes based on their merits
- In some cases, the use of a maturity assessment tool
Once you have collected all the information, you will be able to establish what your current state looks like. This will reveal process constraints, areas that may not exist, areas that require more training, as well as the areas that your teams are doing well in. Don’t forget to outline success; after all. improvement isn’t all doom and gloom.
Identify the Future State
With your assessment in hand, you will know what areas require the most attention and others that might not. Establish a simple target state.
For example, you know that you have some challenges in escalations from the business to support services through the self-service portal. While the phone and email options have remained reliable for years, there are some areas in self-service you need to iron out. This doesn’t mean you need to re-work the entire portal. You do need to use the assessment to outline what constraints exist and work to correct them. It could be training, wording on the portal, or a workflow in the tool that does not align to the process.
The key overall is to make agile moves toward improvement. If you have next to no established processes, then focus on getting yourself to a stable, consistent service delivery state. A solid foundation here will allow you to build future pieces on your service improvement initiatives down the road.
Build the Roadmap Activities
With the delta from current to future state in hand, you next need to identify all the areas that need to be reviewed and outline them in the roadmap. For example, assume for a moment that you want to improve areas that apply to the timely resolution of requests. This would boost the customer satisfaction and engagement from the business. To get there, you determined you need to address the following:
- Identify service request categories
- Understand the difference between incidents and requests
- Establish workflows for different request types
- Understand roles and responsibilities
- Build and leverage metrics for further improvements
These will be the items that you need to consider when you start to look at timelines and resources as part of the roadmap.
Timeline the Roadmap Activities
This can be difficult to do if roadmaps are not your level of expertise. If you make the timeline too short, the improvements could be rushed and not implemented in an effective way. If the timelines are too long, the business and stakeholders may not have the value realized the way they had anticipated, and the improvement initiatives could stall as a result. So what do you do if you don’t know? Reach out to your service management community for their advice.
Training and Communication
The two areas that seem to get lost in the shuffle are training and communication. People like to give good news but try and sugarcoat the bad. When it comes to road mapping, you need to ensure that you have a scheduled cadence of communication that makes sense for your organization and stick to it. There is no good news or bad; it’s just news. The trick is how you handle the news and move forward.
With training, in many cases we do not plan for the appropriate amount of training because we simply overlook it, make assumptions that people already know what to do, and so on. To be effective in any improvement, you need everyone to know what’s going on, why it is important, what role they play, and how all this benefits them in the end.
Reporting and Review
You are already committed to having this initiative be a success. So to ensure that you keep the ball rolling, establish an ongoing continual service improvement (CSI) initiative. This will look like the roadmap you created in a smaller and likely shorter capacity. The key to this will be leveraging metrics to outline how well you are doing. In previous examples, I mentioned areas of service delivery, so some of the metrics you might want to look at include the following:
- Overall resolution rates of requests or incidents
- Resolution rates specific to the service portal
- Percentage increase on the usage of self-service capability
- If applicable, customer satisfaction scores
This accounts for the reporting part, but don’t forget that a considerable amount of time was used to personally interview and discuss the current state with IT and your business. So keep those dialogs going to review not only the improvements you made but areas that you can still improve.
Plan with Care
There are loads of considerations when you are outlining a roadmap. But if planned with care, you will be able to not only articulate all the improvement initiatives that you are planning to make but effectively timeline all the activities to ensure that you reach your service management targets and continue to improve over the long term.
Ryan Ogilvie is a service management consultant with Blackfriar Consulting in Calgary. Ryan’s focus with his clients is to help them realize value by leveraging service management best practices. Apart from his work with his clients, Ryan believes that sharing his experiences with his community either through his blog,
Service Management Journey
, or various others is the most rewarding part of his work. He was recently recognized by HDI as one of the Top 25 Thought Leaders in Technical Support and Service Management and is an HDI Featured Contributor for 2018. Follow Ryan on Twitter
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