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CHIPS Articles: Seeing the Forest Through the Trees

Seeing the Forest Through the Trees
A Multi-Part IT Service Management Novella, Part 3: “The Measure of Success”
By Mukesh Barot, Navy IT Service Management Office, and Phil Withers, Navy ITSMO Contractor Support Staff - January-March 2015
Editor’s Note: This is the third installment in a series designed to highlight the products and services of the Navy IT Service Management Office relating their capabilities in a business case story format spread over succeeding chapters of an IT Service Management novella. To read Part 1, please go to:; for Part 2, please go to:

Bob was trying to come to grips with the idea of service quality. Now that his process had been established using the framework outlined in the Navy Process Reference Model (NPRM) with sufficient governance (for the moment, anyway) to ensure enterprise policies were created, enacted and enforced through compliance checkpoints, he was staring delivery of quality service square in the face. But that’s the thing — who says what is or isn’t “quality”? What exactly was quality, anyway? He had been doing some research to get a general idea about the scope of service quality which he stumbled onto on the Chartered Quality Institute (CQI) website. After reviewing some of the material, he came to a statement that made a lot of sense to him:

Ultimately, quality is an outcome — a characteristic of a product or service provided to a customer, and the hallmark of an organization which has satisfied all of its stakeholders.

He thought, Isn’t customer satisfaction what we’re in business to achieve? Nodding his agreement to an empty office, he continued his research, all the while tumbling the question over in his mind. But now his thinking had morphed into a proposition — if quality is an outcome, then there must be a method, a roadmap, an approach — something — to help process owners build in service quality from the initial strategy phase all the way through to operations. More to the point, how do you know whether or not you’re delivering quality service? Who’s to say what quality is or isn’t?

He had performed something of a data-dump from the Navy IT Service Management Office milWiki site several weeks ago, so he knew he had documents to go over.

“Might as well get to it,” he said aloud. He had been postponing his review while he worked on implementing the 20-step governance piece, which had gone very well even if he did say so himself. He rummaged through his computer’s dump folder and found the files, and the one that looked most promising right away was the Service Quality Management Slick-sheet.

What struck him immediately was the graphic. He had been pondering the question of “how” for quite some time, and lo and behold… here it was — all laid out in a four-color chart! He didn’t even have to read the introduction to recognize that the P-D-C-A or Plan, Do, Check, Act was going to be the principal method by which quality could not only be implemented, but could also be measured and improved. Oh man, why didn’t I just open these documents to begin with? He was shaking his head in astonishment that here, once again, was exactly what he’d been looking for all along. Yes, he needed to get grounded in service quality, but he really couldn’t have done any better than to start at the Navy ITSMO milWiki portal. The slick-sheet gave him an overview of the PDCA with the activities and outcomes that accompany each phase with a brief explanation of the purpose of each phase.

Next, he opened the Service Quality Management Brief and immediately recognized an old friend — the ITSMO Service Management System, or SMS, that laid out what the Navy ITSMO contained in the way of products and services — and where they were located. He reviewed the key activities for service quality and made a note to review the IT Performance Metrics Library on the milWiki portal. He also noted the existence of something called the PCAT which stood for Process Capability Assessment Tool, but for now he was more interested in establishing a quality management system and implemented measurements … assessing the capability of his process would come later.

The metrics library piqued his interest at this point only because of what he was reading in the brief about IT Performance Management — the explanation seemed tailored to what he was trying to achieve:

IT Performance Management is the use of performance information through monitoring and measuring relevant IT performance metrics. The information obtained from metrics enhances the organization’s ability to gauge performance results.

“That’s it,” he muttered. “I need metrics, and I need a performance management system for implementation and improvement.” In an activity flow diagram, he saw that the performance management process was comprised of four separate activities:

  • Define,
  • Plan & Build,
  • Collect & Manage, and
  • Analyze & Improve.
  • It was all starting to make so much sense, but it was also starting to look like a lot of work! The overview was just that — a bare-bones look at service quality. He needed to take some time and go over the next document in his dump directory — the ITSMO Service Quality Plan Management Guide. The guide held the promise of putting meat on the bones and coupled with the Performance Management Plan Template, he thought he could actually put together a working draft of a service quality and performance management plan for his process in pretty short order. With half the work done for me, it’s not as bad as I thought, he gleefully mused.

    The weekend came and went. Walking in from the parking lot, Sally, a co-worker filling in for Jim — who was out unexpectedly with illness — hailed Bob as they reached the security desk. "So, have you had a chance to get your service quality plan together? I've been kind of hoping to copy off your paper this time around,” Sally said with her characteristic impish grin.

    “Funny you should ask,” Bob said. “I’ve just finished reviewing the Navy ITSMO’s guide and have used their template to start fleshing out the details for my process, but I’m encountering a bit of a roadblock finding the actual metrics for Request Fulfillment. Last week was a bit hectic so I’ve just started scratching the surface. Do you happen to have any references I can hack to get started?”

    They successfully negotiated the checkpoint and were walking down the corridor to their adjoining offices when Sally finally replied, “How long ago did you download the ITSMO Service Quality documents you’ve been working with?”

    Bob thought for a moment, and then said, “It’s been about a month or so. Why?”

    “Come with me,” Sally snapped as they turned the corner.

    Sally’s office was just to the left, and they were just about to enter when Chuck stuck his head out of an adjoining office and blurted, “Hey, glad I caught you guys. I know you haven’t had a chance to get to your email yet, but there’s been a schedule change on our ITSM Implementation POA&M and the boss wants to meet this afternoon on the service quality piece. Do either of you guys have something I can leverage?” Chuck had been given the Event Management process and had been “leveraging” just about everything Jim, Sally and Bob had produced for their respective processes since the beginning.

    “I’ll get back to you,” Sally snapped and proceeded to her desk. As she switched on the monitor, Bob took a seat at the conference table and waited. Sally had left her computer running over the weekend to allow for network updates that had been advertised, so she got to the browser in no time.

    “Aha!” Sally swung the monitor around to give Bob an unobstructed view. “Feast your eyeballs on this,” Sally said as she sank into her chair.

    What Bob focused on made him smile. He was looking at a table titled IT Performance Metrics Library which contained metrics documentation for each process in the ITSM lifecycle, divided by lifecycle phase. He looked back at Sally and said, “When did this happen?”

    Sally gave Bob one of her patented you-should-have-known looks, and said, “Didn’t you read their latest newsletter?”

    Busted, Bob thought, but what he actually said was, “It’s on my to-do list.” He shifted uncomfortably in his seat; he wasn’t even sure he had the newsletter, but now wasn’t the time for confessions.

    “If you had,” Sally continued, “you would have known they’ve been building a metrics library and have recently put it online. Ripe for the picking are metrics for the both of us to use and refine as our processes mature. It will certainly put us ahead of the power curve for this afternoon’s meeting.”

    “Me, too!” Chuck appeared in the doorway to Sally’s office and added, “Can I also get a copy of that newsletter?”

    “I’ll send you the link to sign up for their stakeholder registry and distribution list,” Sally said, chuckling, “And in case you’re interested, all of their previous newsletters are archived and available on their wiki as well. Bob, I’ll copy you on this just in case you don’t have it.”

    Bob nodded, but couldn’t remember if he’d already signed up or not. No matter — Sally had already made her point.

    Later that day, Bob put the finishing touches on his Service Quality Management Plan for Request Fulfillment, and had a good working draft with measureable metrics in his Performance Management Plan.

    He realized the metrics and even the methodology for monitoring and improving service quality would change over time as his process matured, but for now he had a good grasp of what was required out of the gate and, more to the point, would be able to articulate it to the other process owners and managers.

    Bob strolled into Sally’s office a few minutes before they had to be at their meeting. He was feeling good about how far they had come implementing IT Service Management within their enterprise.

    “What are you grinning about?” asked Sally.

    “It’s funny,” Bob declared, looking skyward. “Six months ago I couldn’t spell ITSM. Now I’m a process owner who has just put together a service quality and performance management plan. It really does help us understand the holistic relationships all of the processes have with one another to support service delivery, check that, quality service delivery to the customer.”

    “You sound like a walking billboard for ITSM.” Sally’s sarcasm was only thinly veiled. She added, “But don’t forget that process performance with measurement using metrics is only half the battle. Question: How are you going to know whether your process is doing what it’s supposed to do and performing at the level it’s supposed to be performing at?”

    Bob was, for the first time in quite a while, ready with an answer. He had been reading up on the Navy ITSMO’s wiki about what came next according to the ITSM Lifecycle Overview brief and said as flatly as he was able, “Assessment. We have to plan for and do process capability assessments.”

    “That’s right!” Sally raised an eyebrow in feigned surprise, “And how are we going to do that?” She was examining the depths of Bob’s research.

    “PCAT,” Bob said again as flatly as he could muster, “…the Process Capability Assessment Tool.”

    “Two for two!” Sally shouted. “I may be able to copy off your paper yet! Let’s meet next week and start looking at the ITSMO assessment model. If memory serves, they have an Assessors Guide and templates we can use to plan it out.”

    “Would you like me to send you a copy of each?” Bob relished being one-up on Sally.

    “Okay, okay,” Sally said, laughing. “Let’s get going, the meeting’s about to start.”

    Stay tuned for Part 4 – Assess for Success

    Chartered in April 2012, the ITSMO provides IT Service Management thought leadership and assistance by creating usable products and services for the Navy ITSM community. The Navy ITSMO strives for alignment of enterprise IT architecture through discreet but interlocking practice areas to help define and support organizational IT governance and management requirements. The Navy ITSMO resume boasts industry-certified expertise in ITIL, COBIT, Program and Project Management, DoDAF, IT Risk Management and Control, IT Skills Framework, Service Quality, CMMI, ISO/IEC-20000, ISO/IEC-15504, Information Security, Enterprise IT Governance, and Assessment and Audit.

    The Navy ITSMO Wiki is located at: Access to milSuite is CAC controlled. First time users must register their CAC with milSuite by clicking the Register button, confirming their information, and then clicking Submit.

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