Adopting Continuous Improvement to Keep Managed Services Outcomes-Focused and Evergreen

Table of Contents included in this article are as under :

  • The Evolution of Continuous Improvement
  • Evaluating the Various Available Approaches for CSI
  • Actioning Continuous Improvements Through Integrated Technologies
  • Future Possibility: Continuous Improvement with Managed Services in the Cloud

Adopting Continuous Improvement to Keep Managed Services Outcomes-Focused and Evergreen

The Evolution of Continuous Improvement

Today, refining managed services delivery is much like refining manufacturing processes as customers (i.e., companies undergoing digital transformation or optimizing the management of their digital infrastructure) are more focused on objective outcomes than ever before.

The SaaS revolution had a lot to do with it, as it introduced pricing transparency, SLA consistency, and productization into the technology world. Therefore, as MSPs reapproach their offerings in a more packaged, predictable, and value-adding format, continuous improvement can serve as the key to evolving and continuing outcomes.

Adopting Continuous Improvement to Keep Managed Services Outcomes-Focused and Evergreen

Even in the manufacturing/industrial world, continuous improvement has evolved hugely from traditional approaches. An academic paper published in the International Journal of Engineering, Science and Technology illustrate the rise of new tools to benchmark performance, identify improvement opportunities, and validate outcomes.

MSPs must learn from the latest trends in continuous improvement and implement these in their service engagements. Not only will this help customers to keep up with changing digital applications and their requirements, but it will also ensure that MSPs are always driving added value, thereby increasing customer retention in the face of competition.

Adopting Continuous Improvement to Keep Managed Services Outcomes-Focused and Evergreen

Evaluating the Various Available Approaches for CSI

The existing services portfolio has engaged in delivering to the Financial customer conditions, ROI, business growth, revenue generation, and cost of services. People processes mobilized for service delivery, including skills, succession planning, etc.

The internal service provider (ISP) map that supports the customer-facing delivery

Once both the internal and external facets have assessed, the MSP can move onto improvement opportunity identification. There are two available approaches for this — SWOT analysis and Gap analysis. The former is better if the MSP does not have a clear target in mind and is at the early stages of continuous improvement. SWOT will reveal both strengths and weaknesses, thereby letting the provider maximize whatever resource it has in hand.

But the latter, i.e., Gap analysis, is a more targeted approach. It compares the as-is assessment with to-be-achieved standards identifying shortfalls in usage, product mix, service uptime, quality of experience, etc. This exercise will indicate the exact purpose of continuous improvement.

Another critical step is to benchmark service delivery and IT processes against SLA terms, equivalent market use cases, and the competition. In a modern MSP-company

relationship, benchmarking shouldn’t be a one-off. It has to be part of the ongoing continuous improvement process so that the provider can challenge its practices and learn from the competition.

Adopting Continuous Improvement to Keep Managed Services Outcomes-Focused and Evergreen

The outcomes of SWOT analysis, Gap analysis, and benchmarking will inform the change implementation strategy. In this context, “change” is any action that reconfigures the existing It process architecture to bring about the possible improvements already identified. The change implementation strategy involves four steps.

Communicating the results of the three prior exercises across the organization

Reaching the specific people who will participate in, drive, and sponsor the improvement

Formulating the sequential flowchart of change implementation

Obtaining buy-in from necessary entities — i.e., customer, regulators, etc.

For continuous improvement to be truly successful, organizations need a carefully maintained CSI register. It records all improvement opportunities (categorizing them into small, medium, or large undertakings) and tracks concurrent change implementations’ progress. The CSI register is essential, as it brings a sense of structure, visibility, consistency, and predictability to an initiative that can often morph into uncontrollable chaos.

Adopting Continuous Improvement to Keep Managed Services Outcomes-Focused and Evergreen

An example of a CSI register is below:

Adopting Continuous Improvement to Keep Managed Services Outcomes-Focused and Evergreen

Breaking down the actual change, MSPs can consider two available approaches: the PDCA or Deming cycle and the structured seven-step ITIL improvement process. PDCA puts continuous improvement efforts into a clear pattern of the plan, do, check, and act. The last step — act — asks MSPs to come up with new action points based on the check or audit step results.

The seven-step improvement approach is also well-established and industry-proven, starting with managed service assessment to corrective action.

Adopting Continuous Improvement to Keep Managed Services Outcomes-Focused and Evergreen

Actioning Continuous Improvements Through Integrated Technologies

The technology component would augment the strategy and process aspects by:

Adopting Continuous Improvement to Keep Managed Services Outcomes-Focused and Evergreen

Service providers might build this technology application through custom connectors that plug into various service delivery systems, feedback portals, and employee/agent interfaces. Or, it might work with its ISP/service partner to build a custom but out-of-the-box platform.

ServiceNow is one such partner that offers MSPs a CSI management application, including dashboards, CSI register, and a workbench.

Most globally recognized MSPs have both proprietary and partner-enabled technologies in place to aid in continuous improvement. For example, Fujitsu leverages the Fujitsu Automated Process Discovery (APD) tool for locating bottlenecks, loopbacks, infrequent flows, and process shortfalls to formulate improvement initiatives from insights derived from its Application Performance Management (APM) tool. The proprietary Fujitsu Sense & Respond™ methodology borrows from the manufacturing world to eliminate wasted efforts and cost through an organization-wide continuous improvement culture.

Adopting Continuous Improvement to Keep Managed Services Outcomes-Focused and Evergreen

Future Possibility: Continuous Improvement with Managed Services in the Cloud

The cloud is among the primary candidates for managed services transformation. While certain customer companies are resistant to cloud adoption for regulatory reasons or due to fear of culture shock, it could significantly enhance an MSP’s ability to integrate, measure, improve, check, and monitor the sprawling components of an end-to0-end service delivery engagement.

At the operational end, the cloud makes it much simpler to provision service updates, reconfigurations, and plugins that could help bridge the gap between as-is and to-be- achieved performance.

Finally, the cloud enables collaborative, agile governance, which is the cornerstone for CSI. One spends far less effort on communicating results and obtaining buy-in, as all KPIs are understandable and readily accessible to organization-wide stakeholders.

As MSPs work towards stronger relationships that keep pace with customer need, market possibilities, and new competition, continuous improvement must be at the heart of the service delivery roadmap. Integrated technologies, significantly when leveraging the cloud, can prove to be a differentiating factor on this journey.

To share your thoughts on continuous improvement for managed services or to discuss opportunities for success at your organization, please email me at Arvind@am- pmassociates.com.

Board Advisor, Growth Enabler, Strategy & Culture Alignment and Technology Advisor