Metrics – or, more specifically, getting the right metrics – seems to be a constant challenge for IT service desks around the world. Of course, there are various lists of best practice IT service desk metrics to copy. But, in some ways, this is part of the issue. It’s similar to using another organization’s RFP requirements in choosing a new IT service management (ITSM) tool – what you have is not tailored to the uniqueness of your organization. And, consequently, the results aren’t what you expected (and needed).
This blog is aimed at helping you to improve your IT service desk metrics through our answers to a number of key IT service desk metrics-related questions.
1. Why do people and organizations continue to struggle with their metrics?
Often, it's because their metrics are an add-on to the real work. Usually compiled because it's a mandated activity, but this means that performance reporting is done without real purpose. Perhaps to show that targets have been met, but without the drive to use the metrics to achieve some form of positive change.
There's also too much confusion over what they should and shouldn’t be measuring, thanks to the various lists of best practice metrics they might have access too. People ultimately need more guidance on the whys and hows of metrics, not another list of best-practice metrics.
2. What are the most harmful metrics mistakes?
This has to be having no metrics at all – which industry statistics show is circa 10% of IT service desks. Then it’s having the wrong metrics, which is often compounded by having too many metrics. Here it’s a case of not measuring and reporting on the important things. Finally, as we stated in our answer to question #1, there’s also not proactively seeking to improve via the use of metrics.
So, if you do nothing else after reading this blog, please take the time to review the suitability of your current IT service desk metrics.
3. Why do we need to review our IT service desk metrics?
First, they were probably chosen as best practice metrics without consultation with key business stakeholders. Hence, they’re likely disconnected from what’s really important to your organization. Then things change over time – and so should your metrics and the associated targets. For example, if your IT self-service capability is taking the easy incidents and requests away from the IT service desk, then the remaining tickets will be harder on average. This will then impact the average time to handle, the first contact resolution rate, and other popular IT service desk metrics.
4. How regularly should IT service desks review their metrics portfolio?
The key is to start now, or you’ll never get around to doing it. Then review them again in three or six months depending on how much was changed (plus, whichever you feel most comfortable with in terms of your capacity to change). Then set further reviews as needed. For instance, this might end up as an annual review, say.
5. Can you explain how some IT service desk metrics drive the wrong analyst behaviors?
This starts with the concept of anyone’s behavior being driven by how their performance is measured. It applies to any part of the organization, not just the IT service desk. Think about it, we want to hit our targets, so we focus on the things that allow us to do that. But it’s not always in the best interest of the organization if a metric is allowed to drive the wrong behaviors.
A good example is first contact resolution. What happens when a first contact resolution target needs to be met but the analyst can't help? Do they keep trying to help rather than handing it off to someone who can help? The metric is going to influence their behavior and not only isn’t it a great employee experience for the person now trapped on the phone, it’s also resulting in a higher level of lost productivity for the waiting employee.
What else would add to these questions and answers to help others to get their IT service desk metrics right? Please let us know in the comments.