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Define Service Desk Metrics That Matter

Look beyond benchmarks and rely on internal metrics to drive success.

  • Consolidate your metrics and assign context and actions to ones currently tracked.
  • Establish tension metrics to see and tell the whole story.
  • Split your metrics for each stakeholder group. Assign proper cadences for measurements as a first step to building an effective dashboard.

Our Advice

Critical Insight

  • Identify the metrics that serve a real purpose and eliminate the rest. Establish a formal review process to ensure metrics are still valid, continue to provide the answers needed, and are at a manageable and usable level.

Impact and Result

  • Tracking goal- and action-based metrics allows you to make meaningful, data-driven decisions for your service desk. You can establish internal benchmarks to set your own baselines.
  • Predefining the audience and cadence of each metric allows you to construct targeted dashboards to aid your metrics analysis.

Define Service Desk Metrics That Matter Research & Tools

1. Define Service Desk Metrics That Matter Storyboard – A deck that shows you how to look beyond benchmarks and rely on internal metrics to drive success.

Deciding which service desk metrics to track and how to analyze them can be daunting. Use this deck to narrow down your goal-oriented metrics as a starting point and set your own benchmarks.

2. Service Desk Metrics Workbook – A tool to organize your service desk metrics.

For each metric, consider adding the relevant overall goal, audience, cadence, and action. Use the audience and cadence of the metric to split your tracked metrics into various dashboards. Your final list of metrics and reports can be added to your service desk SOP.


Define Service Desk Metrics That Matter

Look beyond benchmarks and rely on internal metrics to drive success.

Analyst Perspective

Don’t get paralyzed by benchmarks when establishing metrics

When establishing a suite of metrics to track, it’s tempting to start with the metrics measured by other organizations. Naturally, benchmarking will enter the conversation. While benchmarking is useful, measuring you organization against others with a lack of context will only highlight your failures. Furthermore, benchmarks will highlight the norm or common practice. It does not necessarily highlight best practice.

Keeping the limitations of benchmarking in mind, establish your own metrics suite with action-based metrics. Define the audience, cadence, and actions for each metric you track and pair them with business goals. Measure only what you need to.

Slowly improve your metrics process over time and analyze your environment using your own data as your benchmark.

Benedict Chang

Research Analyst, Infrastructure & Operations

Info-Tech Research Group

Executive Summary

Your Challenge

  • Measure the business value provided by the service desk.
  • Consolidate your metrics and assign context and actions to ones currently tracked.
  • Establish tension metrics to see and tell the whole story.
  • Split your metrics for each stakeholder group. Assign proper cadences for measurements as a first step to building an effective dashboard or effective dashboards.

Common Obstacles

  • Becoming too focused on benchmarks or unidimensional metrics (e.g. cost, first-contact resolution, time to resolve) can lead to misinterpretation of the data and poorly informed actions.
  • Sifting through the many sources of data post hoc can lead to stalling in data analysis or slow reaction times to poor metrics.
  • Dashboards can quickly become cluttered with uninformative metrics, thus reducing the signal-to-noise ratio of meaningful data.

Info-Tech's Approach

  • Use metrics that drive productive change and improvement. Track only what you need to report on.
  • Ensure each metric aligns with the desired business goal, is action-based, and includes the answers to what, why, how, and who.
  • Establish internal benchmarks by analyzing the trends from your own data to set baselines.
  • Act on the results of your metrics by adjusting targets and measuring success.

Info-Tech Insight

Identify the metrics that serve a real purpose and eliminate the rest. Establish a formal review process to ensure metrics are still valid, continue to provide the answers needed, and are at a manageable and usable level.

Improve your metrics to align IT with strategic business goals

The right metrics can tell the business how hard IT works and how well they perform.

  • Only 19% of CXOs feel that their organization is effective at measuring the success of IT projects with their current metrics.
  • Implementing the proper metrics can facilitate communication between the business division and IT practice.
  • The proper metrics can help IT know what issues the business has and how the CEO and CIO should tackle them.
  • If the goals above resonate with your organization, our blueprint Take Control of Infrastructure and Operations Metrics will take you through the right steps.

Current Metrics Suite

19% Effective

36% Some Improvement Necessary

45% Significant Improvement Necessary

Source: Info-Tech Research Group’s CEO/CIO Alignment Diagnostic, 2019; N=622

CXOs stress that value is the most critical area for IT to improve in reporting

  • You most likely have to improve your metrics suite by addressing business value.
  • Over 80% of organizations say they need improvement to their business value metrics, with 32% of organizations reporting that significant improvement is needed.
  • Of course, measuring metrics for service desk operations is important, but don’t forget business-oriented metrics such as measuring knowledgebase articles written for shift-left enablement, cost (time and money) of service desk tickets, and overall end-user satisfaction.

The image shows a bar graph with percentages on the Y-Acis, and the following categories on the X-Axis: Business value metrics; Stakeholder satisfaction reporting; Risk metrics; Technology performance & operating metrics; Cost & Salary metrics; and Ad hoc feedback from executives and staff. Each bar is split into two sections, with the blue section marked a Significant Improvement Necessary, and the purple section labelled Some Improvement necessary. Two sections are highlighted with red circles: Business Value metrics--32% blue; 52% purple; and Technology performance & operating metrics--23% blue and 51% purple.

Source: Info-Tech Research Group’s CEO/CIO Alignment Diagnostic, 2019; N=622

Benchmarking used in isolation will not tell the whole story

Benchmarks can be used as a step in the metrics process

They can be the first step to reach an end goal, but if benchmarks are observed in isolation, it will only highlight your failures.

Benchmarking relies on standardized models

This does not account for all the unique variables that make up an IT organization.

For example, benchmarks that include cost and revenue may include organizations that prioritize first-call resolution (FCR), but the variables that make up this benchmark model will be quite different within your own organization.

Info-Tech Insight

Benchmarks reflect the norm and common practice, not best practice.

Benchmarks are open to interpretation

Taking the time to establish proper metrics is often more valuable time spent than going down the benchmark rabbit hole.

Being above or below the norm is neither a good nor a bad thing.

Determining what the results mean for you depends on what’s being measured and the unique factors, characteristics, and priorities in your organization.

If benchmark data is a priority within your IT organization, you may look up organizations like MetricNet, but keep the following in mind:

Review the collected benchmark data

See where IT organizations in your industry typically stand in relation to the overall benchmark.

Assess the gaps

Large gaps between yourself and the overall benchmark could indicate areas for improvement or celebration. Use the data to focus your analysis, develop deeper self-awareness, and prioritize areas for potential concern.

Benchmarks are only guidelines

The benchmark source data may not come from true peers in every sense. Each organization is different, so always explore your unique context when interpreting any findings.

Rely on internal metrics to measure and improve performance

Measure internal metrics over time to define goals and drive real improvement

  • Internally measured metrics are more reliable because they provide information about your actual performance over time. This allows for targeted improvements and objective measurements of your milestones.
  • Whether a given metric is the right one for your service desk will depend on several different factors, including:
    • The maturity and capability of your service desk processes
    • The volume of service requests and incidents
    • The complexity of your environment when resolving tickets
    • The degree to which your end users are comfortable with self-service

Take Info-Tech’s approach to metrics management

Use metrics that drive productive change and improvement. Track only what you need to report on.

Ensure each metric aligns with the desired business goal, is action-based, and includes the answers to what, why, how, and who.

Establish internal benchmarks by analyzing the trends from your own data to set baselines.

Act on the results of your metrics by adjusting targets and measuring success.

Define action-based metrics to cut down on analysis paralysis

Every metric needs to be backed with the following criteria:

  • Defining audience, cadence, goal, and action for each metric allows you to keep your tracked metrics to a minimum while maximizing the value.
  • The audience and cadence of each metric may allow you to define targeted dashboards.

Audience - Who is this metric tracked for?

Goal - Why are you tracking this metric? This can be defined along with the CSFs and KPIs.

Cadence - How often are you going to view, analyze, and action this metric?

Action - What will you do if this metric spikes, dips, trends up, or trends down?

Activity 1. Define your critical success factors and key performance indicators

Critical success factors (CSFs) are high-level goals that help you define the direction of your service desk. Key performance indicators (KPIs) can be treated as the trend of metrics that will indicate that you are moving in the direction of your CSFs. These will help narrow the data you have to track and action (metrics).

CSFs, or your overall goals, typically revolve around three aspects of the service desk: time spent on tickets, resources spent on tickets, and the quality of service provided.

  1. As a group, brainstorm the CSFs and the KPIs that will help narrow your metrics. Use the Service Desk Metrics Workbook to record the results.
  2. Look at the example to the right as a starting point.

Example metrics:

Critical success factor Key performance indicator
High End-User Satisfaction Increasing CSAT score on transactional surveys
High end-user satisfaction score
Proper resolution of tickets
Low time to resolve
Low Cost per Ticket Decreasing cost per ticket (due to efficient resolution, FCR, automation, self-service, etc.)
Improve Access to Self-Service (tangential to improve customer service) High utilization of knowledgebase
High utilization of portal

Download the Service Desk Metrics Workbook

Activity 2. Define action-based metrics that align with your KPIs and CSFs

  1. Now that you have defined your goals, continue to fill the workbook by choosing metrics that align with those goals.
  2. Use the chart below as a guide. For every metric, define the cadence of measurement, audience of the metric, and action associated with the metric. There may be multiple metrics for each KPI.
  3. If you find you are unable to define the cadence, audience, or action associated with a metric, you may not need to track the metric in the first place. Alternatively, if you find that you may action a metric in the future, you can decide to start gathering data now.

Example metrics:

Critical success factor Key performance indicator Metric Cadence Audience Action
High End-User Satisfaction Increasing CSAT score on transactional surveys Monthly average of ticket satisfaction scores Monthly Management Action low scores immediately, view long-term trends
High end-user satisfaction score Average end-user satisfaction score from annual survey Annually IT Leadership View IT satisfaction trends to align IT with business direction
Proper resolution of tickets Number of tickets reopened Weekly Service Desk Technicians Action reopened tickets, look for training opportunities
SLA breach rate Daily Service Desk Technicians Action reopened tickets, look for training opportunities
Low time to resolve Average TTR (incidents) Weekly Management Look for trends to monitor resources
Average TTR by priority Weekly Management Look for TTR solve rates to align with SLA
Average TTR by tier Weekly Management Look for improperly escalated tickets or shift-left opportunities

Download the Service Desk Metrics Workbook

Activity 3. Define the data ownership, metric viability, and dashboards

  1. For each metric, define where the data is housed. Ideally, the data is directly in the ticketing tool or ITSM tool. This will make it easy to pull and analyze.
  2. Determine how difficult the metric will be to pull or track. If the effort is high, decide if the value of tracking the metric is worth the hassle of gathering it.
  3. Lastly, for each metric, use the cadence and audience to place the metric in a reporting dashboard. This will help divide your metrics and make them easier to report and action.
  4. You may use the output of this exercise to add your tracked metrics to your service desk SOP.
  5. A full suite of metrics can be found in our Infrastructure & Operations Metrics Library in the Take Control of Infrastructure Metrics Storyboard. The metrics have been categorized by low, medium, and advanced capabilities for you.

Example metrics:

Metric Who Owns the Data? Efforts to Track? Dashboards
Monthly average of ticket satisfaction scores Service Desk Low Monthly Management Meeting
Average end-user satisfaction score Service Desk Low Leadership Meeting
Number of tickets reopened Service Desk Low Weekly Technician Standup
SLA breach rate Service Desk Low Daily Technician Standup
Average TTR (incidents) Service Desk Low Weekly Technician Standup
Average TTR by priority Service Desk Low Weekly Technician Standup
Average TTR by tier Service Desk Low Weekly Technician Standup
Average TTR (SRs) Service Desk Low Weekly Technician Standup
Number of tickets reopened Service Desk Low Daily Technician Standup

Download the Service Desk Metrics Workbook

Keep the following considerations in mind when defining which metrics matter

Keep the customer in mind

Metrics are typically focused on transactional efficiency and process effectiveness and not what was achieved against the customers’ need and satisfaction.

Understand the relationships between performance and metrics management to provide the end-to-end service delivery picture you are aiming to achieve.

Don’t settle for tool defaults

ITSM solutions offer an abundance of metrics to choose from. The most common ones are typically built into the reporting modules of the tool suite.

Do not start tracking everything. Choose metrics that are specifically aligned to your organization’s desired business outcomes.

Establish tension metrics to achieve balance

Don’t ignore the correlation and context between the suites of metrics chosen and how one interacts and affects the other.

Measuring metrics in isolation may lead to an incomplete picture or undesired technician behavior. Tension metrics help complete the picture and lead to proper actions.

Adjust those targets

An arbitrary target on a metric that is consistently met month over month is useless. Each metric should inform the overall performance by combining capable service level management and customer experience programs to prove the value IT is providing to the organization.

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About Info-Tech

Info-Tech Research Group is the world’s fastest-growing information technology research and advisory company, proudly serving over 30,000 IT professionals.

We produce unbiased and highly relevant research to help CIOs and IT leaders make strategic, timely, and well-informed decisions. We partner closely with IT teams to provide everything they need, from actionable tools to analyst guidance, ensuring they deliver measurable results for their organizations.

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Authors

Benedict Chang

PJ Ryan

Allison Kinnaird

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