As we all try to return to some semblance of normality post-pandemic, your IT service desk will no doubt be looking to make changes that reflect the now-different business needs and priorities – with these in part influenced by the employees who are now likely working differently to versus pre-crisis. There’s much that might need to change and to undertake the required evolution of IT support well there’s a need to ensure that your portfolio of service desk metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) is fit-for-purpose.
To help, this blog looks at some of the common performance management issues that could derail your improvement activities before offering some key tips for getting your metrics aligned with the needs of the ‘new normal’.
Common IT service desk metrics issues
There have long been many common issues with IT metrics and service desk metrics in particular. For example, the use of too many metrics – where you can’t see the proverbial wood for the trees. Especially because ITSM tools offer a wealth of metric options, as does IT service management (ITSM) good practice. Instead, the key is to measure and report on what’s most appropriate to your organization. Another good example is that the metrics have the wrong focus – with them concerned with what the IT service desk does rather than what it achieves through what it does.
This is probably a good point at which to share the wise words of ITSM industry authority Ivor Macfarlane, that:
“If we measure the wrong things, then surely we get better at the wrong things”
There are, of course, many other common service desk metrics “mistakes” that could be called out. Two important ones are when the metrics are produced for metrics' sake – whereas they should offer the needed insight to various stakeholders and drive IT support improvements. Or when the employed metrics drive the wrong behaviors, especially where suboptimal actions taken by people to hit their targets rather than what they do being in the best interest of the end user and business.
There’s so much that could be said here. If you want to read more on these common IT service desk metrics issues, then I suggest reading this “What’s Wrong with Your Organization’s IT Service Desk Metrics?” blog.
How to better measure your IT service desk’s performance
In the new normal, there’s a need to balance increased speed with the right outcomes, and then efficiencies will follow – think “better, faster, cheaper.” Having the right metrics is also more critical given three of the main drivers of IT support change right now:
- The need to focus on value – you can read more about value creation in this ITIL 4 blog
- The rise in importance of employee experience – especially the need to minimize employee lost productivity
- Automation and artificial intelligence (AI)-enablement – and how this can provide the backbone for all three of better, faster, and cheaper.
The following five performance measurement tips are a good start in transforming your IT service desk metric portfolio such that it’s better aligned with the needs of your organization:
- Ensure that your IT service desk isn’t making the common metrics mistakes outlined above. Simply go back to the previous section and ask whether your organization is guilty of any of these.
- Measure and report on what’s most important. Yes, it’s obvious – but how much of what you currently measure and report on isn’t? Think about the need to focus on value – what do your key stakeholders value? How well do your current metrics demonstrate value creation and highlight opportunities to improve your service desk’s value? Importantly, value through a stakeholder, not an IT, lens.
- Recognize the need for both current and future metric change. What’s important (to stakeholders) has likely changed during the pandemic, and will continue to change in the new normal. Consequently, your service desk metrics – and at least the targets – will also need to change over time. Whether to reflect the changing ways of working and business expectations, the importance of value and employee experience, technology-based efficiency successes, or all of these.
- Take a balanced approach to your metrics portfolio. Many of the traditional “best practice” service desk metrics employed are operations based – measuring “now many” or “how fast.” Here, while the Balanced Scorecard approach – with its four-dimensional view of performance – is an old performance management technique, it still offers a way of bringing in other key factors, such as value and employee experience, as well as taking the traditional operational perspective.
- Aim to meet business expectations rather than industry benchmarks. Be wary when using service desk industry benchmarks – because, while indicative metric targets are extremely useful, they represent an “average organization” that probably isn’t the same as your organization. Instead, you might find using your month-on-month trends as a better indicator of your service desk’s performance and improvements.
So, what are you doing to help ensure that your IT service desk is evolving to deliver what your business needs of it in the new normal? Please let us know in the comments.