How many medals can we pull off with ITSM metrics?

February 7 2014

How to measure the number of incidents? What is the percentage of incidents that are open for more than two days? What is the average time to its resolution? What is the volume of this particular workload? Are there missing figures or are you measuring at low frequency? Here is some information to lead you to success.

The Champion's basics : Process Evaluation

Firstly, the well-known frameworks such as ITIL® 2011 have quickly made ​​it clear to IT decision makers about the importance of measuring and periodically evaluating their processes as a source of continuous improvement (CSI). Some managers have gradually integrated audits in their quest for process optimization, although today, KPIs, reports, and dynamic dashboards are at the top of ITSM priorities. However, despite this crucial progression contributing to corporate services delivery success, many companies still identify a lack of structure in terms of IT performance. This observation is even more striking when considering the small number of implemented service desk type continuous improvement programs, regardless of the activity field.

However, in constant search for efficiency, this small percentage of implantation misrepresents managerial intentions. It is even more important to be realistic in time and resources when thinking about an improvement phase. In all cases, the ITSM industry is unanimous on the fact that these actions bring several benefits including streamlining costs, greater efficiency of internal teams as well as a significant improvement in your service levels, to name only a few.

Training Rule #1 : Formalize a program of realistic improvement or prepare an update based on an evaluation of current processes. This step will establish clear goals and provide corrective measures for the various identified problems.

An Audited and Powerful Service Design 

We all seek to provide better service, faster, more effective and efficient service, surpassing the standards in our respective markets. As a service provider, the ever growing expectations of our customers are priority. The IT department is no exception and should ideally, from the conception of its services, involve the management in establishing KPI practices. Now, before jumping to the next step, we suggest that you make a list of desirable measurements and another list of achievable ones. This exercise will allow you to put your energies in the right place and not over plan your future performance assessment actions. Depending on your current ITSM processes, you will be able to develop a complete list while considering its feasibility.

Thus, when designing services, you can for example provide a similar list of performance indicators useful to your team and most importantly, to your process managers.

Service Levels

  • Number of services covered by SLAs
  • Number of services evaluated by SLAs, where weaknesses and corrections' measures are reported
  • Number of services by SLAs that are regularly reviewed
  • Number of services by SLAs where agreed service levels are met
  • Number of issues in the services provision which are identified and addressed in an improvement plan

Capacity Management

  • Number of incidents due to insufficient service or component capacity
  • Number of adjustments of service capabilities and components following a change request
  • Number of unexpected service increases or component capacity due to bottlenecks
  • Time resolution of identified bottlenecks
  • Percentage of capacity reserves during normal and maximum demand periods
  • Percentage of services and infrastructure components under surveillance capacity

Availability Management

  • IT service availability versus terms agreed in SLAs and OLAs availability
  • Number of service interruptions
  • Average duration of service interruptions
  • Percentage of services and infrastructure components under monitored availability
  • Number of implemented measures with the objective of increasing the availability

Security Management

  • Number of preventive security measures that have been implemented
  • Duration of the identification of a security threat
  • Number of security incidents identified, categorized by severity
  • Number of security incidents which would cause service interruptions
  • Number of tests and conducted safety training
  • Number of deficiencies identified in the security mechanisms

You will probably come up with different types of indicators, those that describe the history of your results (witness indicators) and those used to measure future activities (leading indicators or guide indicators). These truly are the backbone of a performance audit for your organization and need to be carefully selected. You will also have the opportunity at this point to determine dependencies or relationships between these different measures, as well as the frequency necessary for a proper assessment process.

Training Rule #2 : Make a list of indicators related to the design of your services, as well as a list of relevant attributes including frequency and their dependencies. Pay special attention to service levels and agreements (SLA)

Just as Sports, Support Operations must be Measured

From downhill skiing to speed skating, from bobsleigh to biathlon; some sports are constantly measured to a split second. Incidents and problems, two essential support processes for a smooth conduct of an IT service department, must be measured consistently and accurately. This data provides areas for improvement on service, processes, groups or individuals performance. They also allow you to discover some operational realities, quantify the work to be performed, and to measure the progress of certain actions based on specific objectives.

Regarding incidents, here is an overview of basic metrics:

  • Number of incidents and service requests
  • Average response time
  • Average resolution time of an incident
  • Average execution time of an application
  • Reopening incident rates
  • First level incident troubleshooting rate 
  • Demand satisfaction

These measures can then be compared with agreements (SLA) established beforehand during the service design. On the other hand, by categorizing the priorities of your service desk, you will be able to have a better overview of the department performance according to your obligations and established agreements with your customers.

As to the problems:

  • Number of problems
  • Time-solving problems
  • Number of unresolved problems
  • Number of incidents by a known problem
  • Time spent before identifying the problem
  • Effort in solving the problem

Training Rule #3 : All of your activities and support operations must be audited. You can start with incidents and problems by identifying operational indicators, which allow you to gradually evaluate your services, your processes, groups and the work allocated to your service resources. Linking these results to the established SLA with your customers is a way to honor your agreements and raise customer satisfaction.

Continuous Improvement

Although the performance indicators listed above represent elements of continuous improvement (CSI), you can audit these measures to optimize the evaluation program currently in place. For example, you can measure the number of service/process assessment, the number of weaknesses identified and the number of completed or started initiatives. This retroactive effort enhances your continuous improvement program and improves customer satisfaction. This exercise loop can also be deployed horizontally across the organization and serve as a measuring tool for different departments or teams.

Training Rule #4 : Establish your audit exercise within a continuous service improvement program. Try to improve it retroactively by assessing your indicators. Finally, mobilize various stakeholders within your organization to measure the overall quality of your service management.

For more information on performance indicators in service management (ITSM) or on continuous improvement programs, do not hesitate to contact a member of our ITSM specialists team.