So What are You Measuring?
In most cases, no single metric can tell the entire story. It is worthwhile to review and select metrics based on their ability to corroborate what another metric is showing. Sometimes over-emphasis on a single metric can have negative results. Some groups used to emphasize the first call fix rate metric. With this metric you are measuring the number of calls that are resolved on the first call to the service desk.
These groups were using this metric to assess service desk personnel performance. The net effect was that first-call-fix-rates increased but customer satisfaction went down. This happened because the operators would hold on to the call for extended periods of time trying to solve the incident versus appropriately escalating the call to the next level of support. By switching the measure to be a combination of metrics they eliminated the unwanted behavior and obtained better visibility to performance.
Metrics and reports can definitely help organizations improve. To get the most out of them we need to select metrics and reporting methods with the requirements of each reader in mind. We need to deliver information that these people can then use to make appropriate decisions. At the same time, we also want to select the right metrics to drive desired behaviors. With careful planning and implementation meaningful information is possible versus just making another fancy coloring book.
George Spafford is a principal consultant with Pepperweed Consulting and a long-time IT professional. George's professional focus is on compliance, security, management and overall process improvement.