Five Phases of a Gap Analysis

gap452474427A gap analysis is a tool that ITIL recommends organizations use to compare their current state to some future desired state. Gap analyses are covered in the Continual Service Improvement (CSI) book. The idea of a gap analysis is to help an organization understand the path and commitments in terms of resources and time that it must make to achieve a particular goal.

The CSI doesn’t provide too many specifics about a gap analysis or how one should be conducted. When I’ve been involved in gap analyses, I tend to think of the activities as occurring in several phases. Following are the phases of a gap analysis and some of the activities that occur during those phases.

Phase I: Planning
The initial phase of a gap analysis involves planning the various gap analysis activities. This includes finalizing the scope of the gap analysis, agreeing to gap analysis questionnaire content, and determining the format of the gap analysis. During this phase, relevant stakeholders are identified, the formal communication plan is established, and the deliverables are specified. At the end of this phase, the gap analysis is formally kicked off in the organization.

Phase II: Discover and Review Background Information
During this phase, those conducting the gap analysis review various sources of information. These sources of information include existing policies and process descriptions, service documentation, process flowcharts, roles and responsibilities, process outputs, communication plans, CSI activities and plans, service level agreements and associated reports, and other information as applicable. The purpose of this phase is to establish the organization’s formal intent for service management activities.

Phase III: Stakeholder Interviews
The stakeholder interview phase involves interviewing existing service owners, service managers, process owners, process managers, and any other relevant stakeholders in the organization. The interviews are conducted based on the questionnaires established during Phase I and should investigate based on the information discovered during Phase II.

Phase IV: Draft Gap Analysis
Based on the results of prior phases, an intermediate assessment is drafted and reviewed with key stakeholders. Significant portions of the gap analysis are reviewed and adjusted with key stakeholders, and the gap analysis is validated with organizational sponsors.

Phase V: Complete Final Deliverables
The last phase of a gap analysis involves making any final documentations to the gap analysis report; providing short, medium, and long-term recommendations; and conducting a formal gap analysis review meeting. During this phase, the gap analysis project is formally closed and the organization presumably start working on some of the items identified during the gap analysis.

A gap analysis is one of the most valuable tools described by ITIL. When conducting a gap analysis, following a logical, phased approach results in usable deliverables that help the organization achieve its vision.

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