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Keep moving forward

Instruments for continuous improvement

German soccer legend Olli Kahn has said it for decades: No matter how well you are doing and how successful you are today, you have to keep working on yourself and improving if you want to be at the forefront tomorrow. And while he previously used this mantra to drive only himself and his immediate teammates forward, now he is applying it to an entire club, which is today more of a small corporation.

In his present role, not only does he have to concern himself with an individual’s form and attitude, he now has to deal with the entire environment: the players, coaches, supervisors, consultants, sponsors, associations, fans, stadium, media, competitors, marketing, finance etc. Only if the overall package is right and fully integrated can success be achieved over the long term. And for this, every single component must be working and up to date at all times.

What applies to Olli Kahn’s FC Bayern Munich and the German Bundesliga also applies, of course, to every company in the competitive business world. Standing still means going backwards, and so every company has to regularly audit, optimize, and sometimes reinvent itself to achieve sustained market success. And not just from a macro perspective, but in every single detail.

Stability despite agility

For all IT and process managers, this means that we have to constantly focus on optimizing the implemented processes, solutions, and systems, and adapting them to the changing requirements coming from the departments and technology. This is despite the fact that our fundamental objective is the stable availability of systems and applications. Continued stability combined with agility is the major challenge.

But how best to approach this? The traditional PDCA method for continuous improvement, as developed by Walter Andrew Shewhart and William Edwards Deming back in the 1930s, is the recommended approach: Plan – Do – Check – Act.

Plan – Do – Check – Act

According to this approach, after planning (Plan) and implementing (Do), each adjustment must be checked (Check) for success and efficiency, and, depending on the results of the checks, optimized and transferred to standard operation (Act). And once stability has been achieved, the whole process starts from the beginning again for the next improvement, but from a more advanced starting point. And this continually moving forwards is precisely what brings a continuous improvement in quality.

Business Management Services are more than application support

While the phases Plan and Do are usually organized in project form and involve many divisions, Check and Act (often primarily as Re-Act) mainly involve the traditional tasks of IT and its service processes:   

  • Testing (manual and automated)
  • Monitoring
  • Incident and root cause analysis
  • Data mining
  • Business readiness checks  
  • System and service operations
  • Application management
  • Incident management
  • Process optimization
  • Process automation (RPA)
  • Training

If applied consistently, this type of business-oriented service management with a focus on business processes makes a key contribution to the continuous improvement of business processes and systems while at the same time ensuring the stability of day-to-day operations.

This blog, which will be regularly updated here, intends to focus on what these challenges look like in detail and how to overcome them successfully in day-to-day business!

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