Service Improvement - What are the alternatives?
By and large, organizations focus on people, procedures, and tools to improve their business. They carelessly ignore the fact that it is the processes used in an organization – and the way that these processes are aligned – that holds everything together.
The quality of a product (including services) is highly influenced by the quality of the process used to develop and maintain it.
Does this sound familiar:
- Plans are made, but not necessarily followed;
- Work is not tracked against the plan;
- Expectations and service levels not consistent, and changes to them are not managed;
- Estimates are way off – over-commitment is frequent.
Does your organization accept these as normal without trying to address or eliminate them?
Kill the creativity
Even if you’ve accepted that your organization could reduce or eliminate these problems, many organizations reject the idea of using process improvement to address or resolve them.
The common view being that it is useful only in large organizations and comes with a large price tag. Others argue that process improvement is not needed because they have good people (or advanced technology, or an experienced manager). Others contend that it interferes with creativity and introduces bureaucracy.
Eliminating or resolving these problems may take business process improvement, such as through Business Process Management (BPM). In a recent post – The Case for Transforming to a Process Managed Organisation – I laid out the advantages of BPM, but, admittedly, this may not be what some firms are looking for.
Embrace ‘Best Practices’
An alternative for many organizations is to embrace best practices.
Best practices provide a way of helping an organization to establish, deliver, and manage services.
And these best practices are being adopted by organizations from all over the world whether large or small, government or private industry, and in industries ranging from financial to health care, manufacturing to software, education to business.
In the Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) model for best practices, a model was developed for providing better services by improving processes.
(The CMMI Services Model is a compilation of activities and best practices required to establish, deliver, and manage services)
CMMI describes 24 service process areas, with containing effective practices covering topics such as:
- Work management,
- Process management,
- Service establishment,
- Service delivery and support, and
- Supporting processes.
The model provides guidance on how all types of service provider organizations can establish, manage, and improve services to meet the needs of their customers and end users.
Where CMMI can prove effective
In certain contexts, an alternative and streamlined approach to evaluating and improving the development of services by using best practices may be more appropriate than BPM.
Some that I have encountered:
- The process of applying the CMMI for Services model helped one organization’s support team focus on documenting standard processes and making them available to all team members.
- A company with aggressive growth plans more closely aligned IT services and service processes to business objectives and business processes.
- There are many examples of where the CMMI for services model can be beneficial when applied to the public education system, such as for curriculum auditing or program evaluation, thus ensuring that personnel make the best decisions possible using a standard, approved, and embedded process.
We recently used the CMMI for Services model to baseline an organization’s service delivery model. From there, we defined a future state service delivery model, and identified and analysed the gaps in service delivery. By applying process areas from the CMMI model for services, we outlined an integrated services management approach that helped bring about a more consistent level of service – as well as putting in place a process for strategically managing its service system.
Have you had experience with CMMI for Services model and the application of best practices in your organization? Did this approach prove useful for you? We would love to hear about your experience in the comments.