Each month, I highlight one Key Performance Indicator (KPI) for service and support. I define the KPI, provide recent benchmarking data for the metric, and discuss key correlations and cause-and-effect relationships for the metric. The purpose of the column is to familiarize you with the KPIs that really matter to your organization and to provide you with actionable insight on how to leverage these KPIs to improve your performance!This month, I depart from my usual format; instead of discussing a single metric, I will explain how a handful of critical metrics can be combined to create a single, overall measure of service desk performance: the service desk balanced scorecard.The Balanced ScorecardToday’s service desk technologies and reporting packages make it easy to capture copious amounts of performance data. Most service desk managers can tell you everything from last month’s average speed of answer to yesterday’s average handle time. But what does it all mean? If my abandonment rate goes up, but my cost per ticket goes down, is that good or bad? Is my service desk performing better this month than it was last month?Despite all the data that service desk managers have at their fingertips, most cannot answer a very basic question: How is my service desk performing? The balanced scorecard resolves this dilemma by combining the most important service desk KPIs into a single, overall measure of service desk performance.MetricNet’s research shows that establishing a single, overall performance metric for your service desk is critical. We call this metric the balanced score because it truly does communicate a balanced picture of service desk performance. The balanced scorecard is a mechanism that aggregates the most important service desk metrics—such as cost per ticket and customer satisfaction—into a single, all-inclusive measure of service desk performance. The value of this metric, when tracked over time, is that lets you determine whether overall performance is improving or getting worse. Moreover, it provides a useful benchmark for comparing your performance against other service desks.Oftentimes, when a service desk attempts to communicate its performance to other stakeholders in the business, particularly to lay people who do not understand service desk operations, those individuals quickly become overwhelmed by the minutia of such measures as speed of answer and call abandonment rate, and they are uncertain about how to interpret the results. They are likely to focus in on one, easily understood metric like speed of answer and draw conclusions about overall service desk performance from this relatively unimportant metric. This is a classic case of missing the forest for the trees. It is therefore absolutely critical to communicate the overall performance of the service desk, and the balanced scorecard does that for you. Think of the balanced scorecard as your letter grade for the month! In this way, a service desk can track its overall performance, and, in any given month, might see costs go up or customer satisfaction go down or speed of answer increase. But these individual measures take on a secondary level of importance because the balanced score provides a more complete and accurate picture of overall service desk performance.Create a ScorecardCreating a balanced scorecard in Excel is relatively straightforward. You can follow along in the figure below as I explain the process.First you select the metrics to include in your scorecard. We suggest including the following six metrics: cost per ticket, customer satisfaction, technician utilization, first contact resolution rate, technician job satisfaction, and average speed of answer. Depending upon the metrics you track in your service desk, you may choose fewer metrics or a different mix of metrics for your scorecard. Second, you establish a weighting for each metric based upon its relative importance in the scorecard. This is a judgment call, but we suggest overweighting cost and customer satisfaction, since these are the foundation metrics for service and support. Step 3 is to show a reasonable range of performance—worst case to best case—for each metric. Typically, these performance ranges are derived from a benchmark of your service desk. In step 4, your performance for each metric is inserted into the third column from the right. A score for each metric is then calculated based on the interpolation formula in step 5. And finally, a balanced score for each metric is determined by multiplying the metric weighting by the metric score. When the balanced scores for each metric are summed up, you have the total balanced score for your service desk!In this example, the service desk balanced score is 61.5%. Your balanced score will always range from 0% (if you have the worst possible performance for every metric in the scorecard) to 100% (if you have the best possible performance for every metric in the scorecard). It turns out that the service desk in our example has scored quite well. When we run hundreds of service desks through this algorithm, we get a normal distribution centered right at 50%. Those who score above 60% are typically in the top quartile; those who score between 50% and 60% are in the second quartile; those between 40% and 50% are in the third quartile; and those below 40% are generally in the bottom quartile for overall service desk performance.Benchmark Your PerformanceThe balanced scorecard is an ideal way to track, trend, and benchmark your service desk performance. The figure below shows the trend in one company’s service desk performance over a 12-month period. The blue bars in the chart represent the monthly balanced scores, while the purple background represents the 12-month trailing trend in scorecard performance. Clearly, the performance trend for this particular service desk is improving! Finally, the service desk balanced score can be used to benchmark your service desk on a fair, apples-to-apples basis against other service desks. The figure below shows how the service desk in our example (Company XYZ) compares to 22 other service desks in their benchmarking peer group.Please join me next month for Metric of the Month: Percent Resolved Level 1 Capable, a desktop support metric that provides insight into total cost of ownership for service and support.