The Metrics Hierarchy in IT Service and Support
Leveraging KPIs for Continuous Service Improvement
Today’s service and support technologies make it easy to capture copious amounts of performance data. Most IT support managers can tell you everything from last month’s ticket volume to yesterday’s average handle time. But despite all the data that IT service managers have at their fingertips, most cannot answer a very basic question: How is my support organization performing? Perhaps worse, many IT managers are unaware of the critical role – beyond mere measurement – that Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) can and should play in service and support. This includes the ability to track and trend performance, identify, diagnose, and correct performance gaps, establish performance goals, and continuously improve performance.
The Power of Leveraging Metrics
Many have heard the sage advice “You can’t manage what you don’t measure.” This is particularly true in IT support, where effective performance measurement is not just a necessity, but a prerequisite for effective decision-making. Despite the widespread belief in this statement, few support organizations leverage KPIs for their full potential. In fact MetricNet’s research, gathered from literally thousands of service and support benchmarks, suggests that the vast majority of support organizations use metrics to track and trend their performance – but nothing more! Unfortunately, in this mode, IT support misses the real value of performance measurement by failing to exploit the diagnostic and prescriptive capabilities of KPIs.
The true potential of service and support KPIs can only be unlocked when they are used holistically, not just to measure and observe performance, but also to:
- Track and trend performance over time
- Establish performance goals
- Benchmark performance vs. industry peers
- Identify strengths and weaknesses in IT support
- Diagnose the underlying drivers of performance gaps
- Prescribe actions to continuously improve performance
- Demonstrate the ROI of service and support
- Achieve world-class performance
In short, performance measurement and management is a critical discipline that must be mastered for any support organization that aspires to world-class performance.
The Metrics Hierarchy for IT Service and Support
Empirical data shows that the most effective support organizations follow nine best practices when it comes to performance measurement. These best practices are summarized in the Metrics Hierarchy illustrated below (Figure 1).
Figure 1: The Metrics Hierarchy in IT Service and Support
The metrics hierarchy summarizes the sequence of best practices that must be mastered for a support organization to harness the full potential of service and support KPIs. The numbers to the right of each practice show the approximate percentage of support organizations engaged in each best practice. The hierarchy is synergistic – each best practice builds on the previous best practice, and adds more value to a support organization. Yet the data shows that each successive best practice is adopted by fewer and fewer organizations. This presents a dilemma, as most support organizations fail to mature beyond the point of using metrics primarily for observational purposes.
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