3 Words to Better IT and Service Desk Metrics

June 29, 2015
Written by Dean Coleman

How Vanilla Ice helped my approach produce better business value metrics for my customers…

Vanilla Ice

IT departments are notorious in providing information to their business that is either; not aligned to the business itself, is not understood, they do not care about it, is too complicated, too technical or all of the above. The follow list is an example of some of the mistakes that are frequently made:

IT are not sure why they produce metrics (what the business does with them)

IT doesn’t know what the right metrics are to provide the business.

There seems to be an assumption on the metrics that should be produced but the business may not agree. In surveys the top three metrics produced by IT Service Desks are:

  • Performance against SLA
  • Volume of incidents
  • Request fulfilment and incident resolution time.

IT often measure these things that are easy or only they themselves understand. IT usually make the mistake of focusing on these IT metrics rather than business-focused metrics.

The Service Desk find it easy to produce too many metrics as opposed to a select few of relevant metrics.

The metrics often have no correlation to the business needs.

Service Desk metrics are viewed as an output from the function as opposed to an input to the business improvement process.

My personal experience

A number of years ago, I found out the how much time could be wasted by producing poor metrics. In my first role as a Service Delivery Manager for a new important customer, it demonstrated to me the downside of presenting poor Service Desk and IT metrics. In my induction to the role and the client, I was briefed on how the role should be handled, what meetings I should attend and what reports I should provide. This all seemed straight forward especially as the report templates were in place and I only had to fill in the relevant performance data from our ITSM tool. I scheduled my first service review meeting and took along the report all printed, bound and full of numerous metrics. I presented the report expecting a subsequent discussion only for it to be turned over on the meeting table.

Being shocked that the report was not looked at or being discussed at I review meeting, I asked why?  I was then given a valuable lesson on why we shouldn’t present meaningless information that the business does not value. My customer told me that the reports had been produced with no input from himself, his business, his users or our Service staff. He said that the information was far too technical and did not tell anyone what value our services provided the business or tell them how the IT service was performing. He went so far as to say that nobody understood or cared for the report and he would be embarrassed to show them to anyone in his organisations as they do not reflect what his business wants from IT.

My Approach to the Solution

My customer was however happy to allow me to take stock and use some simple steps for the wise Vanilla Ice to help produce better metrics that demonstrated the business value our support services were providing their business.

  • STOP
  • COLLABORATE
  • LISTEN

For the purpose of the exercise, I had to break from Vanilla’s wise words and do them in a different order – Stop, Listen and Collaborate – doesn’t work when rapping but did for better metrics.

STOP providing information that provides no value to your customer’s business or indeed to you and your team.

Time is such a valuable commodity and you are wasting not only your time but that of other people by giving them things that they do not need, understand or want.

I stopped what I was providing as it offered no value to my customer or my colleagues. This action allowed me the time to investigate what was required and then take action.

LISTEN to your customers.

I got together with my customers staff, I talked to anyone in the business who could help me understand what they really wanted from the IT experience. I also spoke to the customers’ business leaders to get their views as they were the ones paying the bills. Finally, I spoke to my own support teams.

I listened to all their views and discovered that they wanted only some of the standard metrics provided and certainly wanted to receive much different metrics and information.

COLLABORATE with everyone necessary to improve the metrics that you provide and how they are presented.

I collated all the information received from my discussions and held a couple of short workshops to get some key, interested people to help me come up with the right metrics and information to be provided as well as how it should be presented.

The group came up with a list of standard IT metrics along with some business related information such as customer satisfaction feedback, lost business hours, staff productivity, impact of problems, impact of changes, risk register and continual service improvement plan. They were also very keen for us to report on what we do well rather than just focus on the negatives of an IT service.

The Result

After taking the above approach, the reports contained all the information they needed to understand how the support services were performing, where we could improve, what we were doing well, what they as a client needed to do, how IT enabled the business to perform. All in all, we moved from a trusted support provider to valued business partner.

Unfortunately, we still see that IT departments continue fail to provide the right metrics to businesses but by taking some simple practical steps to understand what the business wants.