Improving Service Delivery through Metrics

Ryan Ogilvie

Image of businesspeople at presentation looking at virtual project.jpeg

I want you to think about all the different types of organizations you may have worked for. Whether they were Finance, Communications, Energy, Agriculture, or Transport organizations when they had limitations in getting their service delivery to the next level they likely had limitations on how they viewed their metrics.

Why?

It’s simple; we (as an IT organization) tend to endlessly report on metrics that matter to IT not the business which it supports

We must move away from thinking that recovery from failure = value. 

Recovery from critical incidents is an important part of what we do in IT, but it should not be the litmus test on whether we are providing value to our businesses. To be as effective as possible we should be considering the needs of the business, and not just how long our networks are available or how quickly we answered the phone and fixed a PC.

One of the things I learned early on was that the marketing of the IT and Service Desk metrics was as important as the metrics themselves. In many cases relating them to a particular process was something that was not only confusing for the business we provide service to, but also conversing in business language as it applies to the services we support. When we think about how service management reporting is articulated we frequently speak to KPI’s as they relate to a CSF. The challenge with this in some cases is that it does not relate to a business objective necessarily and this is where our audience gets lost.

Start to look at it in terms of:

Business Objectives - Understand and document the business objectives of the organization or line of business

CSF’s - Determine which Critical Success Factors (CSF’s) are needed to be successful

KPI’s - Determine Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) based on the Critical Success Factors. Include target levels for these, so success is visible

Dashboards – Firstly, share them. Having viewable metrics based on the audience is important, it might not be one size fits all but recognize that need. Where it applies ensure they can be used for trending, historical reporting in an operational capacity.

So how do we do that?

The first step should be to get some alignment by gathering the right people together from various streams within the appropriate business units. Include a BRM if you have one as well as some key IT stakeholders. In the beginning you might need some practice on getting the 'right' people together.

The next step is to get some clarity on the objectives and goals for the organization. Rather than assuming we know what the business wants, as IT has famously done in the past, gather the right resources together to jointly identify what the business objectives are. Within this new steering committee ensure that you are lining up your initiatives to the goals of the business. Clarity of business objectives can help you in many ways.

They should have these characteristics:

  • Must be important to the business
  • There should only be a few critical ones
  • It should represent the results to be obtained
  • It should be visible and unambiguous

The third step is to map out your goals and measures. Having your objectives matched up on a table to CSF and KPI’s might seem overly simplistic, but that is the point.

 

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Make the goals measurable

To quantify the goals, you’ll need to work with your steering committee to determine the Critical Success Factors that will demonstrate the fulfillment of their goals. The best Critical Success Factors (CSF’s) will be: “SMART”: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely.

Once you and the steering committee have agreed on the CSF’s, you’ll be able to develop Key Performance Indicators, or measures that support the CSF. It’s extremely beneficial to develop KPI’s along with targets, so you and your business partners are clear on whether you’re successful in delivering on each of the goals. The best part about this approach is that when IT and the business agree on measures and targets, it’s easy to tell when IT has delivered or when IT is not meeting the needs identified by the business.

Build the dashboards and scorecards

Once the matrix is agreed on and the method of measuring each KPI is defined, documented and agreed on by the steering committee, the final step is to design dashboards and scorecards that represent these KPI’s. These are both graphical views of the Key Performance Indicators listed above, showing the result in comparison to the target.

Benefits of the program

Providing metrics that are responsive to your business’ needs rather than the same old IT metrics the business doesn’t  really care about will not only improve the level of performance but also strengthen and build out the relationship between you and the rest of the business.

Looking back at the reasons to measure, you can expect the following results:

  • Live dashboards also provide the ability to determine the activities needed to drive success of an initiative and whether these activities are providing the expected result,
  • You and your stakeholders are able to use the metrics you provide to validate whether IT’s performance is contributing to the business’ ability to meet their goals and objectives,
  • IT is able to produce metrics that support a business case for infrastructure or development projects related to the delivery of a service,
  • Live dashboards provide IT and the Business to know when there is a performance issue and they can intervene immediately to turn the problem around.
  • This helps an organization move from a purely reactive mode to a more proactive approach that is integrated with the success of the business’ initiatives in mind

Long term Success

As these dashboards and scorecards are used by the business, it’s important to come back to the steering committee to evaluate the results, part of the "wash, rinse, repeat" process. This may lead to creating new KPI’s or tweaking the ways in which they are measured, depending upon the steering committee satisfaction with performance. In the case of the sample organization, it’s possible that the business is not meeting their objectives and may initiate changes to their critical success factors that will drive a need to change the measures.

The point here is that you should not build the dashboards and scorecards then forget about them. Rather, you should meet with the steering committee regularly to review the metrics and IT’s achievements. This is a great opportunity to talk about service improvements that the business might need to support their future initiatives as well. Keep in mind that once you are achieving targets reliably you will be proving out your abilities to deliver so you need to continue to raise the bar.

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