PDCA Cycle in service desk: how to promote continuous improvement

One of the main challenges of IT service management (ITSM) involves the identification and mitigation of repeated failures, which negatively affect productivity and the customer experience, and generate unnecessary costs. In this article, you will learn about the PDCA Cycle and understand how it helps promote continuous improvement in service desk.

What is PDCA Cycle?

The PDCA cycle, also known as the Deming cycle, is a widely used model in quality management, based on the concept of continuous improvement. As the name suggests, it doesn’t have a beginning and an end. It’s a cycle of repetitive steps to improve service desk processes indefinitely.

To achieve this, the method relies on data collection and analysis, which helps managers identify repeated failures and create action plans to mitigate them. The cycle is often applied with so-called agile methodologies, such as Design Thinking and SCRUM.

PDCA cycle stages in service desk

The PDCA cycle uses a four-stage approach to achieve the objective of promoting continuous improvement in service desk. These stages are explained below:

1. Plan

In the first stage of the cycle, objectives and goals are established. Also, performance indicators must be defined, which clearly demonstrate the project evolution.

2. Do

This stage refers to putting into practice what was planned in the first stage. Here, it’s crucial to perform as indicated in the action plan to enable a proper analysis of the outcomes. It usually involves training to team members, as they need to have a clear idea of what is going to be performed and why.

3. Check

The third stage, which takes place at the same time as the second stage, involves monitoring the outcomes. This simultaneous monitoring is important to ensure team alignment and avoid unpleasant surprises at the end of the cycle. The performance analysis must be based on the indicators defined in the planning stage.

4. Act

When a cycle ends, it’s time to analyze the consolidated performance. This moment also indicates the beginning of a new cycle, since the results obtained are the basis for a new action plan, which considers the current level of the operation and the problems identified in the previous cycle.

Benefits of the PDCA Cycle

The PDCA cycle brings several benefits to the performance of leaders, team members and, consequently, the whole organization. These benefits include:

Process optimization

Many of the main causes of poor service desk support are the result of unclear and non-intuitive processes. Because of the focus on data, the PDCA cycle gives managers a comprehensive view of the operation, allowing them to identify how a single failure triggers a sequence of errors.

When the root cause of a problem is identified and eliminated, repeated failures with an impact on the customer experience tend to be reduced or eliminated.

Productivity gain

The immediate consequence of optimized processes is productivity gain. Unnecessary tasks can be eliminated, while others are rationally reformulated to achieve better outcomes and the effective use of available resources.

Cost reduction

Every error generates an additional cost for the operation, related to time spent with rework. Depending on the extension of the failure, the customer experience can be damaged, which also impacts the brand image in the market and compromises new businesses.

The PDCA cycle helps reduce these non-strategic costs, promoting a leaner and more efficient company. The consistent application of this method tends to bring considerable gains in the long run, as the control of expenses can also ensure more competitive prices to your services when compared to the competition.

Continuous improvement in ITIl V4

The concept of continuous improvement is also present in ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library), which is a set of good practices recommended for IT service management. It provides a structured approach to implementing innovations that impact the entire service value chain.

The continuous improvement model presented in the ITIL Version 4 (V4), the latest version of the ITIL framework, recommends seven steps:

  1. What is our vision?
  2. Where are we now?
  3. Where do we want to be?
  4. How do we get there?
  5. Take Action!
  6. Did we get there?
  7. How to keep the pace?

A relationship can be established between these topics and the PDCA cycle. Steps 1 to 4 are related to the Plan stage; step 5 to the Do stage; step 6 refers to the Check stage; and finally, step 7 is the end of the cycle, corresponding to the Action stage.

Do you want to have more information about this topic? See how to implement the ITIL method and improve your IT management in our articles.

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