Process Improvement for Management of IT-related Processes


Most organizations have objectives for quality and improvement. Enterprises want employees to continually look for opportunities that fuel effectiveness and strengthen the company. The improvement theme is both a nice to have and a basis to survive, providing a direction to get better and a model for personal behavior and work culture. The basic improvement model is one of common sense, similar to those used in psychology and coaching. It can be teamed with any process reference model.

The improvement model has evolved over time with influences from many thought leaders, good practices and industries, including Dr. Edwards Deming, a key influence with the Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) cycle (preferred over Guess-Do-Pray-Hope); John Kotter with organizational change; international standards such as those from the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), ISO 90001 for Quality, ISO 20000 for IT Service Management, ISO 27001 for IT Security; COBIT, ITIL, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK), all of which incorporate or support improvement themes; and, Six Sigma programs, which have an improvement phase and so should you.

How do you do it? You can hire a Six Sigma person or you can do it yourself. It’s not difficult. For most of you, read a book or gain some awareness. ISACA offers a book titled COBIT® 5 Implementation in the COBIT product family. While the focus is on implementing governance of enterprise IT, one could add an alternative title:  Process Improvement for Management of IT-related Processes.

The book highlights a cycle of phases and component parts, all building on good practices. The 7 phases of the COBIT® 5 Implementation lifecycle include:

  1. What Are the Drivers?
  2. Where Are We Now?
  3. Where Do We Want To Be?
  4. What Needs To Be Done?
  5. How Do We Get There?
  6. Did We Get There?
  7. How Do We Keep the Momentum Going?

Each phase is supported by 3 components:  program management (PM), change enablement (CE) and continual improvement (CI). This is a good practice approach.

As an example, the components of the first 3 phases include:

  1. What are the drivers?
    1. CI – Recognize the need to act
    2. CE -Establish a desire to change
    3. PM – Initiate a program
  2. Where we are today?
    1. CI – Assess the current state
    2. CE – Form a team
    3. PM – Define opportunities or challenges
  3. Where do we want to be?
    1. CI – Define the target state
    2. CE – Communicate the desired outcome
    3. PM – Define a roadmap

Each component has suggested or potential key activities, inputs and outputs. Warning:  If you miss addressing any of these phases or components, or get overly creative with the order, you might increase the risk of failure. Like software, avoid customization.

Where to Start?
Where to start? Pain points and triggers are obvious. To gain a quick win and show how it is done, consider focusing on one process—your favorite process.

The COBIT 5 Implementation book gives you a starting place—allowing you to move forward with confidence on a solid foundation. Think of it as a playbook or recipe. Project managers like the 3 components as they address areas of frequent challenge, such as change enablement. Copy and save this model into your head and project templates.

COBIT 5 Implementation offers all of us consistent context and structure for current or potential activities. It contributes to the success of you and your team. The focus is on people—all of us; up, down and across the organization in any business line.

Editor’s note:  John Jasinski holds all ISACA certifications and certificates and teaches COBIT. He is an ISACA member and has been an active volunteer at local and international levels since 2006. COBIT 5 Implementation is available as a free PDF download for ISACA members. The printed hard copy is available from the ISACA bookstore. John suggests you buy a bunch and share them with your team. COBIT is currently celebrating its 20th anniversary. Learn more here.

John Jasinski, CGEIT, CRISC, CISA, CISM, ITIL, Business Process Consultant

[ISACA Now Blog]

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