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COBIT 5 Service Request & Incident to Increase Productivity & Minimize Service Disruptions


If you’ve been following my series of posts on COBIT 5, you know that I think this new release of the COBIT standard is going to help IT organizations achieve greater financial transparency, customer satisfaction, operational excellence, and future orientation. COBIT 5 also will make a difference in how IT organizations run their processes. Today, I will discuss the combined processes of service request and incident. COBIT 5 defines this process as providing timely and effective response to user request and resolution of all types of incidents. In terms of purposes, it aims to achieve increased productivity and minimize disruptions through quick resolution of user queries and incidents. Pretty amazing!  How many of you reading this post would have said that service request and incident are about establishing good process for process sake. This means that what ITIL Version 3 calls “continual improvement” needs to be core to the definition of IT process.


Process goals for service request and incident

To improve service requests and incidents, IT needs to set explicit goals. COBIT 5 recommends three areas for process goals. Let’s explore these as well as their specific metrics. 


1. IT-related services are available for use.  Notice right off the bat that COBIT 5 focuses on services. Just like ITIL Version 3.0, COBIT 5 has moved from an internally focused IT to a business-focused IT. With this said, two metrics are recommended for this process goal: number and percent of incidents causing disruption to business-critical processes and mean time between incidents according to IT-enabled services. Clearly the first demands that IT be able to relate IT services and business services to enterprise business processes and, more importantly, to know when either poor performance or lack of performance causes a disruption. The latter should be read as not the mean time between IT component failures but the mean time between business service failure—email, collaboration, financial accounting, etc. This means that when the network goes down, for example, we should still make sure to also open tickets for business services because we need to be able to calculate IT-enabled service performance.


2. Incidents are resolved according to agreed-on service levels. This means we need to start today to set and manage against service level goals. Only one metric is recommended for this goal area: percent of incidents resolved within an agreed-on/acceptable period of time. Put more simply, this fundamentally means that IT does what it says. Just as importantly, this metrics asks if IT is managing itself against goals.


3. Service requests are dealt with according to agreed-on service levels and to satisfaction of users. Economist and Harvard Business School professor Theodore Levitt said that a business is fundamentally about “finding and keeping a customer.”  Requests are the area where IT organizations can show that they are focused on keeping their customers in a world of options. Two metrics exist for this goal area: level of user satisfaction with service request fulfillment and mean elapsed time for handling each type of service request. Satisfaction is about perception and elapsed time is about reality. Do we treat our fellow employees not just like employees but as our best customers? These metrics together tell us the truth.


Where to start?

Once again, my suggestion is you start where the most immediate value can be driven. But if it were up to me, I would start with service request. As an example of the change taking place in service request take a look at HP IT. HP required employees to self-service themselves or call a remote help desk with their IT issues and requests. However, new leadership has recently put people at entrance of company buildings to help employees resolve their PC and other IT issues. This single action changed many people’s attitude about IT to the positive. Remember, it is important to find and keep a customer even as an internal organization. Start with service request and then establish services and relate these to business processes.


Related links:

Blog post: 3 ways IT leaders can strengthen compliance and control

Blog post: Making COBIT 5 part of your IT strategy

Blog post: COBIT 5 guides IT leaders to better manage future orientation in their organizations

Blog post: 7 goals in COBIT 5 that will improve your operational excellence

Blog post: COBIT 5’s scorecard measures IT’s relationship with its customers

Blog post: COBIT 5 scorecard measures the quality of IT’s financial performance


Solution page:  IT Performance Management

Twitter: @MylesSuer

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About the Author


Mr. Suer is a senior manager for IT Performance Management. Prior to this role, Mr. Suer headed IT Performance Management Analytics Product Management including IT Financial Management and Executive Scorecard.

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