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Defining Metrics for the Service Desk

By | March 3, 2015 in ITIL

Defining Metrics for the Service Desk

I have written a number of blogs about metrics and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) recently, each focussing on a different area of IT service management. These blogs were very popular — this is clearly an area where lots of people are looking for help. Here are some links in case you’ve missed any of them.

One response I got to the earlier blogs was “What about the service desk?” so here are my thoughts on how you could set about defining metrics for your service desk.


Principles to Think about When You Are Defining Metrics and KPIs

In previous blogs I explained how important it is to define your own metrics, not just copy the list of KPIs from an ITIL book, or this blog. Every organization is different and the examples in a book or a blog are just there to help you think about possibilities, not to be used unchanged.

You also need to keep reviewing your KPIs, as the things you care about will change over time and KPIs that worked well for you in the past may no longer be relevant. Remember the “K” in KPI stands for key, so you should focus on key things that are important to you; you should not measure and report every number you can.

You also need a clear understanding of your objectives, and the Critical Success Factors (CSFs) that are needed to achieve those objectives. Every KPI should support one or more of these objectives or CSFs. Reports and discussions with your customers should be structured around the objectives and CSFs, not the KPIs. The “I” in KPI stands for indicator. This is because a KPI is not proof that you have achieved your objective, it is just an indicator to help you and your customers understand trends and issues.

Objectives and CSFs for the Service Desk

So what is the service desk for? What are the things that you really care about? Here are some ideas of things that organizations might want to include as objectives or CSFs for a service desk.

  • We make it easy for users to contact IT to request help, ask questions, or provide feedback
  • We communicate well with our users, keeping them informed, and meeting their expectations
  • We resolve user incidents quickly and efficiently
  • We fulfill user service requests quickly and efficiently
  • We achieve high levels of customer satisfaction

These are just examples of some things that you might have as objectives and CSFs for your service desk. Please don’t just copy them - you should sit down with your customers and define your own - but this list might help you to get started.

I’ve used the phrase “objectives or CSFs” to cover these high level requirements. We could have endless debates about the difference between these two terms but it isn’t really important. Just make sure you identify the things that you care about. Ideally you should end up with between 3 and 6 objectives or CSFs. If you have more than this then your reports will be too long and not sufficiently focussed.

Service Desk KPIs

Here are some examples of KPIs that could be used to measure the objectives and CSFs that we listed above.

  • We make it easy for users to contact IT to request help, ask questions, or provide feedback
    • All user interactions can be initiated via phone or web-based form (Yes/No)
    • Percentage of phone calls to service desk answered within 30 seconds
    • Percentage of phone calls to service desk abandoned before they are answered
    • Result for survey question “How easy is it to contact IT when you need to?” on annual customer satisfaction survey
  • We communicate well with our users, keeping them informed, and meeting their expectations
    • Percentage of incidents where user contacted the service desk to ask for an update
    • Percentage of incidents that were reopened by the user after being closed by the service desk
  • We resolve user incidents quickly and efficiently
    • Percentage of incidents resolved within agreed SLA targets
    • Percentage of incidents resolved using web-based self-help
    • Percentage of incidents resolved during the initial customer contact
  • We fulfill user service requests quickly and efficiently
    • Percentage of service requests fulfilled within agreed SLA targets
    • Percentage of service requests fulfilled using automation with no manual steps from IT staff
  • We achieve high levels of customer satisfaction
    • Percentage of users giving a score of 4 or 5 on post-incident satisfaction survey
    • Increased satisfaction with service desk on annual customer satisfaction survey

These example KPIs are based on the objectives and CSFs for the service desk. They shouldn’t be confused with more detailed KPIs that you might be using to measure your incident management process. You may also need some additional internal KPIs to measure how efficiently you use your service desk resources, but these are unlikely to be of interest to your customers.

Conclusion

You can’t define KPIs for your service desk unless you have agreed what you are trying to achieve. You need to sit down with your customers and agree what the service desk is for, and what they care about. This will enable you to define objectives and CSFs. You can then define a small number of KPIs that will help you to demonstrate how well you are performing.

When you report to your customers, you should discuss the objectives and CSFs. You can use the KPIs to illustrate trends and to support your opinions, but be sure to discuss achievements against the higher-level requirements with customers, and most importantly — listen to how they perceive your performance.

Like this article? You may also like: Defining Metrics for Incident Management.

Please share your thoughts in the comments or on Twitter, Google+, or Facebook where we are always listening.

Stuart Rance

About Stuart Rance

Stuart is an ITSM and security consultant, trainer, and author who has worked with clients in many countries, helping them create business value for themselves and their customers. He was the author of the 2011 edition of ITIL® Service Transition and lead author of RESILIA™ Cyber Resilience best practice published in June 2015. Now that his children have all left home, he has plenty of time on his hands for contributing to our blog - lucky us!
 

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