ITSM Process Governance – Operational Excellence / Production Effectiveness

Process Owners design processes to accomplish the mission of managing information technology in order to support the IT Customer. Many times these processes include the capture of information from multiple support areas, and a record created which can be assigned to one or more support areas providing service. Data is captured within the record during its lifecycle to facilitate process completion, reporting, compliance, downstream processes, and process improvement.

For the Incident Management process, the record is an incident record. Problem Management has a Problem record. Change and Request Fulfillment have their own. Each record type is designed to capture, track, and enable reporting on specific information permitting the process to run efficiently, the service to be provided smoothly, compliance with regulatory or audit requirements, to safeguard the value to the Customer, and to guarantee the process can be measured and improved upon over time.

The Process Owner must remain aware of process requirements for IT, Core Stakeholders, the Customer, Audit, and Regulatory. They define the exact fields on the record, which fields are mandatory, which fields have pull-down list selections, what data each field is designed to capture, how the data is captured, and for what business purposes the data is used.

Many times data can only be captured in records in free-form text fields. The data captured can be virtually useless, and the time spent entering the data wasted if it is not entered into these fields in a pre-defined manner. Therefore, data captured in the records must have a minimum level of quality. The Process Owner must define the minimum level of quality standards for the data. This ensures the purposes for capturing the data are fulfilled, other downstream processes can benefit from it, and measurement of the process can occur. This ensures all fields are scrutinized for purpose and any unjustified are eliminated; making the process more efficient and providing a more effective use of people’s time by entering only data that has a business benefit when entered according to the standard.

Once data standards are defined; as a part of process level governance, the Process Owner benefits by continually sampling records to ensure these standards are met. I call this Operational Excellence or Performance Effectiveness. The business reasons for capturing the data according to the standards, as well as the standards themselves are communicated to process Core Stakeholders letting them know that compliance with the standards will be measured and setting the expectation for their involvement in capturing quality data.

The outcome of regular sampling and validation of the data against the standards is communicated to the Core Stakeholders during the regularly scheduled process Service Review. This includes the impact of poor data quality on downstream processes, measurement capability, and any inability to manage IT effectively and/or to communicate IT effort and value to IT Customer groups.

Whenever individuals are not entering data according to the standards, they are counseled, guided, and trained; always keeping the business purposes for the data uppermost in the communications streams. As a last resort escalation can occur to leaders (generally Core Stakeholders), and in rare and egregious cases – access suspended. In my experience, escalation is rarely needed once the Process Owner is able to clearly define and communicate is terms of the business purpose.

The Operational Excellence Performance Effectiveness aspect of process level governance will ensure that data captured as a part of normal process operations is fit for business purposes. It enables the Process Owner to facilitate other processes, consistently maintain the value of process data, as well as maintaining the Customer experience.