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6 Steps Improved Service Quality

Aug 31, 2006

Hank Marquis


A better approach is to treat such an inquiry a service request. The IT staff worker follows a well defined and pre-approved procedure to perform the work. Upon completion of the procedure the worker updates required documentation such as the CMDB, and produces management information.

The following 6 steps outline how to get started with standard changes.

Create a process for authorizing standard changes. Create a formal process for the identification, implementation, and management of standard changes.

  • Standard changes require pre-approval by CM but, once approved, they do not require case-by-case change management approval.
  • Standard changes require regular reporting and audits to make sure that as the organization changes they remain appropriate.
  • Establish specific groups and authorizations. Only authorized groups under defined situations should perform standard changes.
  • Identify those changes that make good standard changes.

    Identify candidates for standard changes. Identify, document, and institutionalize those tasks that are well known, proven, and done every day.

    The following steps help identify standard change candidates:

  • Ask workers what activities they think ought to become standard changes.
  • Review change logs and histories for changes done often.
  • Consider who is to perform the work. Many standard changes begin at the service desk in response to service requests.
  • If cost is a factor, seek those changes where budgetary approval lies with requester.

    Write standard operating procedure (SOP). A SOP lies at the heart of every standard change. The SOP defines when, where, how, and by whom the standard change occurs.

    It includes:

  • Defining the scope and timeframe for authorization.
  • Involving the group approved to perform standard changes in SOP creation to capture their skills and buy-in.
  • Procedures for failed standard changes. CM or the designated owner of standard change should examine every failure and make changes as required.

    Train, test, and release. Train workers on the new SOP.

    Put the SOP under CM control. All changes and modifications to the SOP require formal CM review.

    Manage, monitor, report, and audit. Review the success of the standard change(s) to make sure they are appropriate.

  • Reporting should show no adverse impact and a percent reduction in change request backlog.

    Standard Changes empower an organization, involve IT Staff, reduce bureaucracy, improve performance, and cost virtually nothing to implement.

    Involving the staff that will execute the standard change incorporates their combined knowledge and helps assure a process that is efficient and most importantly effective.

    Instead of feeling chaffed by a bureaucratic process, workers will feel empowered. Allowing staff to make changes they are competent and capable of performing has the added bonus of spreading the work around the organization.

    Institutionalizing work that is already getting done in your organization as standard changes can help you achieve the twin goals of CM: limiting change-related incidents and improving the efficiency and effectiveness of day-to-day operations.

    You will also have a reduced backlog, a happier staff that is more empowered and committed, and no one will feel that CM is bureaucratic, unrealistic, or useable.

    Understanding the proper place of change requests and service requests, and how to organize to support them, is the solution to the No.1 preventable cause of IT service outages!

    Hank Marquis is a managing partner and CTO at itSM Solutions . You can contact Hank at hank.marquis@itsmsolutions.com.

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