IT Service Desks Build Bridges with Business Value Metrics

This blog is courtesy of guest blogger Daniel Wood, Head of Research and Publications at the SDI.

Metrics have helped Service Desks move on and evolve.  They’ve moved away from gut-feel decisions surrounding resourcing, investment, performance and service levels and instead, rooted decisions in tangible, empirical data. At SDI, we have seen the rewards that metrics can reap through better defined and co-ordinated Service Desks with the resource and infrastructure to perform to the level they aspire to.

There is one problem though.  Metrics have typically been
based around historical data and demonstrating Service Desk value and performance. Metrics have aided immeasurably in raising the profile of Service Desks and helping them align to the organisation they support.

The next step in the metrics journey is to start utilising metrics in proactive and forward-thinking ways.  It was this idea that formed SDI and Cherwell Software’s latest joint research project, Making Metrics Matter. The whitepaper includes a list of thirty metrics that should form the core set of Service Desk measurements but also examines business value metrics – metrics that provide relevant business information and help continue Service Desks’ transformative journeys into trusted business partners.

What are business value metrics?  Why should Service Desks incorporate them into their core reporting suite? 

Business value metrics move beyond demonstrating Service Desk value and performance and instead, focus on areas such as the cost of IT failures, lost business hours, impact to the business and the future risk of missing SLAs or pre-determined targets. Lots of Service Desks will be uncomfortable with these measures because they are unfamiliar and somewhat new and also because they highlight areas where performance has been less than expected.

Typically, Service Desks are shy about sharing their achievements and are very hesitant in discussing failings. Often, they share a common belief that the Service Desk is seen as a point of failure within the organisation. This is especially true in organisations where a gulf or barrier exists between the wider business and the Service Desk and sometimes even within IT itself.

Whilst the concept of business value metrics may make Service Desks nervous, the truth is they represent the next level of maturity that Service Desks need to aspire to. For Service Desks to evolve beyond their current state, they must seek ways to engage with the business in ways the business understands.

How often have we heard that the business and IT do not speak the same language?  Service Desks can take steps to bridge communication gaps by offering a suite of measures the business understands and, crucially, finds useful and informative. The business might be interested to know that your Service Desk can resolve 70% of calls first time (they will likely be curious or anxious about what happened to the other 30%), but if they were told an IT failure lost them revenue, they would take a much keener interest. In an ideal world, the business would then work with IT to ensure provisions were put in place to make sure this level of IT failure does not occur again.

This transition might not be an easy one, but sooner or later Service Desks will need to stand up and be counted.  When that time comes, let us make sure we are armed with a wide-range of excellent, meaningful and valuable information (to the business) gained from reporting and metrics.