In that timeless battle between urgency and importance, urgency tends to win the day. It makes sense in a way – if your house is on fire, you’re probably not going to be too focused on replacing the roof at that exact moment. However, too much time spent on the urgent can leave you looking back at the end of the year, wondering where the time went, and coming to the sad realization that you never made time for those time-consuming-but-oh-so-important improvements. If you’re familiar with this particular rut, the good news is there are a few simple steps you can take to help shift the balance and focus more of your efforts on driving improvement.
Your first move should be to appoint someone to the role of CSI Manager. This person will serve as a coach, of sorts, pushing the organization to make the time to chip away at problems within the organization. A good candidate for this role is someone who is prone to looking for problems already within the organization – and is enthusiastic about taking on a new challenge. Remember to allow this person time to devote to this new ‘hat’ they’ll be wearing and provide them the tools they’ll need to be successful (staff, time, funding, tools, etc.).
Next, give your new CSI Manager a CSI register, where they can capture, analyze, and manage those areas in need of improvement. It can be as simple as a spreadsheet, (here’s a free CSI template). When your CSI Manager meets with others in IT, either individually or as a group, they’ll use this document to capture the biggest areas of pain or opportunities for improvement. It’s a fantastic way to stay organized and ensure nothing slips through the cracks. When new ideas are added, the CSI Manager should work with others (likely the person or team who pitched it) to deconstruct it. Some questions to consider include:
- Why is this improvement important? What will it help us do?
- What is involved in making this improvement happen? Will it require funding approval? What’s the size of the undertaking, all things considered?
- How important is this improvement to the team, department, or company?
When you have a solid list of improvements, your CSI Manager will then meet with leadership to review it. Leadership should provide feedback on existing items, and may even add new ones. Ultimately, you’re looking for their blessing on the prioritization of the list; at the end of this meeting (or series of meetings), all should be in agreement as to which items are most important to the organization. This is a hugely important step, because what you walk away with will likely guide your focus for, say, the next quarter. (Don’t lose a quarter working on something leadership doesn’t value – I’m here from the future to tell you that will not end well.) Take a realistic approach to the CSI register, focusing on two to three initiatives at most each quarter. If you take on more than that, you’ll dilute your efforts and end up accomplishing little. Don’t forget to prioritize your two-to-three projects, while you’re at it (NOTE: If everything is Priority #1, nothing is).
When you’ve settled on your prioritized to-do list, take some time to answer the following questions.
- Who should do the work?
- Who should own the overall project?
- What can realistically be achieved over the next several months?
- What does success look like?
Be sure to measure your success along the way so, at the end of the year, you can return to leadership with hard data outlining how CSI efforts have helped the organization improve. The more you can link dollar amounts to your efforts (translating time saving into cost saving), the more you’ll be able to prove it’s worth carving out time to improve how the organization works. You may even get a pat on the back.
Want to dig into CSI a whole lot further? Check out our upcoming 3-day ITIL Intermediate CSI classes. It’s a fun one!