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Finding Hidden Treasure in your Service Desk

MaryRasmussen ‎03-19-2013 08:11 AM - edited ‎09-27-2015 07:13 PM

Life on the Service Desk is non-stop interaction with customers that results in data being captured, activities initiated and follow-ups scheduled. Service desk interactions create a transactional history while also building a treasure chest of data that can be transformed to actionable information when used as part of a Key Performance Indicator (KPI) strategy.


KPIs help organizations understand, manage and improve their performance in the areas that contribute most to strategic goals and objectives.  Adopting KPIs into your process can translate into big payback for your organization particularly as organizational alignment is achieved and a continuous improvement culture is adopted.   Aligning IT with business goals is often at the top of management’s “to do” list because IT is foundational to many business models and can consume significant budget.  A situation that often pushes IT and the ITSM process  into the spotlight (or as some may say “under the microscope”).


Closing the gap between business-decision and technology-decision makers                                                                                            

In a recent Forrester blog called “Chasing KPIs that Matter”, analyst Nigel Fenwick observes the disparity between the priorities of business-decision makers and those of technology-decision makers. A situation that I think most of us will agree rings true to some degree in almost every organization.  Fenwick identifies top concerns for business decision makers as:


  1. Growing revenue
  2. Acquiring/retaining customers
  3. Customer satisfaction

At first glance, service data such as: interaction backlog, outages, first call resolution rate, SLA performance, change success rate and other operational data may feel disjointed from these big picture goals.   Yet if you look closely, you see that the service desk performance contributes to these broader goals. For example, such metrics can be indicators of value chain execution quality and cost efficiencies that impact margins, revenue and customer satisfaction. The usefulness of IT customer satisfaction metrics is sometimes questioned.  You may hear “but these metrics relate to IT’s customers, not the company’s end customers”.  The reality is that IT’s internal customers such as employees, partners and suppliers are an instrumental part of the company’s value delivery chain. Their service satisfaction in turn influences the satisfaction of the company’s end customer through operational efficiency, delivery quality and so on.   


What KPIs are important to you?


Identifying the right set of KPIs is often considered the most difficult step to uncovering the gold in your treasure chest. At the same time, it’s important not to get stuck in a conventional “analysis paralysis” as you go through the KPI selection process.  One approach is to look to industry best practices and take advantage of out of the box best practices  provided by your software package to speed up the process.  Remember that:


  • Communication across the organization is key to ensuring a common focus by the stakeholders.
  • The process is more than just generating a view of the current state and comparing it to your goals.  It’s about a continuous improvement process.  Remember the Deming wheel?
  • The most important thing is to get started.  HP’s Myles Suer wrote a blog back in 2011 called “The Magnificent Seven”.  Over a year later, I still continue to refer people to this list as good starting point for this process.
  •  As business priorities change, your KPIs should be re-evaluated.  It’s not a static process.

 I would love to hear about your experiences with KPIs and what treasure you have discovered in your service desk data.  How does your IT organization achieve alignment with the business?  Feel free to comment in the comments area below.

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About the Author


Mary (@maryrasmussen_) is the worldwide product marketing manager for HPE Software Education. She has 20+ years of product marketing, product management, and channel/alliances experience. Mary joined HP in 2010 from an early-stage SaaS company providing hosted messaging and mobility services. Mary has a BS in Computer Science and a MBA in Marketing.

on ‎03-19-2013 10:38 AM

Mary, thanks for the post. KPIs are one of my favorite ITSM topics as I spent a few years working on IT compliance, audit, and more generally GRC. I like it almost as much as change and configuration!


Anyhow, I am curious if you would like to comment on KPIs and ITIL Continual Service Improvement (CSI). I submit that when v3 came out ~5 years ago, CSI was one of the more popular new ITSM topics as it helped tie together the whole notion of service lifecycle management. With the economic downturn from ~5 years ago, cost and core delivery and operations arguably "ruled the ITSM roost". It now seems like KPI related discussions (along with scorecards & scorecarding) is making its way back into mainstream conversations. As I listen, it seems the conversations have a CSI dimension to them.



on ‎03-19-2013 11:26 AM

Catching up on my HP ITSM reading led me to a whole article by Myles Suer on CSI in the very next post -


Answering my own question! I was also thinking of commenting on the role of COBIT and ITIL in determining what are good KPIs to track. Myles has also written extensively on that. When we were considering what ITSM KPIs HP Service Manager should pass up to HP's Executive Scorecard, COBIT recommended KPIs were at the top of the list.



on ‎03-20-2013 07:21 AM

Chuck -  It’s great you ended up answering your own question, although it does concern me that you appear to be talking to yourself  :-)


Anyway over the years -  I’ve watched several companies work on an ITIL CSI strategy, during both the best and worst of times  My personal experience has been that the degree of success is tied very closely to the dedication of the executive sponsor.  In one case, our executive sponsor reached almost zealot status being both advocate and evangelist for continuous improvement.  He was able to command the needed resources.  He took the people, process, technology framework as almost gospel,  focusing not only on process and technology but also on people. He gave staff the (optional) opportunity to take personality evaluations to see if their personality and aptitudes correlated positively with their job requirements, and to point out strengths to encourage people to leverage those abilities.  Evaluations were private  – and were for use by the individual only. It was an interesting experience.   Across the board, it seemed like CSI initiatives were difficult to sustain long term, but I don’t have any insights as to why that was the case.

William T Auvil Jr
on ‎03-21-2013 09:28 AM

Mary, I enjoyed reading your post.  As you know, metrics and KPI’s are key to me in running a success business.  From all the metrics generated within a CMS application I develop a dashboard that is viewed daily and shared with Leadership and staff. 


Understanding your business from the customer/partner perspective is essential to success.

Timely actions from the information is critical both internal and external.  If a customer complains about something, you better get back to them quickly with your plan of action.  Take the information and be proactive to both positive and negative comments.  Show the customer/partner that reviewing information out of your system is built into your daily process.


I like to call customers/partners when they praise the work preformed by an analyst thanking them for their feedback and telling them how much we appreciate their business.  Net Promoter Score (NPS) are a must to capture in the fierce completion each of us face today. 


Taking care of each customer/partner and ensuring their happiness with your products and services build loyalty and tenure.


When I worked at FrontRange Solutions it made me feel so proud to say that we had HEAT customers that date back to DOS days and that the average HEAT customer has been with FrontRange Solutions over eight years.


Take good care of your employees and they will take good care of your customers/partners!  Make sure that you not only measure your customers/partners, but your employees too.

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