One of the lesser utilized yet powerful ideas in ITIL is the concept of systems or feedback loops. ITIL defines a system as
There are two types of systems:
A group of interacting, interrelated or interdependent components that form a unified whole, operating together for a common purpose.
· Open-loop systems – value of outcome has no influence on input; performs a specific activity regardless of environmental conditions
· Closed-loop systems – value of outcome influences input; responds to changes in the environment
Using these concepts we can establish a powerful approach for managing and improving the ITIL processes we have implemented. One technique is called the Monitor-Control Loop. The loop consists of a set of steps that produces feedback to help improve individual process steps, the process as a whole, the stages of the lifecycle and the lifecycle as a whole.
· Begin the loop by conducting an individual process step by taking inputs and creating outputs. While conducting the step monitor the activity and the output. Monitoring involves observing the activity and gathering data about the step or output.
· Compare the data against an established norm. The norm will come from the targets established in the Service Level Agreements and in the Critical Success Factors (CSF) and Key Performance Indicators (KPI) determined for the process.
· Control the process by making improvements or changes to the way you conduct the activity or step based on the variance or difference from the norm.
· Continue to monitor-compare-control for the next step of the process.You can then apply the monitor-compare-control steps to the process as a whole by monitoring the final output of the process, comparing against more tactical and strategic norms established through your service catalog and portfolio and controlling the process by making overall improvements to the process. The loop can then be expanded to monitor-compare-control the lifecycle stages and the whole lifecycle.
Monitor-Control Loops provide a simple and effective way of ensuring that your processes are delivering on the promises you make to customers and users in terms of value.