How do you know if your service desk is meeting your SLA? How do you identify training issues and threats to IT stability?
Keeping track of key metrics is the key to a smooth and successful IT Support Desk but how do you know which numbers to focus on?
In this guide, I will point you to the most important measurables among the sea of data.
I think everyone can agree that it is extremely important to track, measure and optimise your Service Desk. At Plan-Net, we track our performance against the contractual measures and SLAs set out with our clients and conduct regular audits to ensure we are meeting (or ideally exceeding) our targets. If you run your own in-house service desk, you should treat it as if you were providing your service to a 3rd party client. If you already outsource your IT Service Desk, are you getting the right reporting that digs into the service you are receiving or does it ignore critical issues
Having KPIs is the first step, but how do you know what you should be measuring and by which methods? Over the many years. I have spent managing and overseeing IT Service Desks, I have seen a myriad of metrics used to help improve performance and customer satisfaction. It is easy to slip into data blindness when you are confronted with so many numbers. In this piece, I want to delve into the most useful data and how to use it to analyse and optimise performance. Here are my top metrics for IT Service Desk excellence.
Many service desks will look at overall ticket count. It is one of the easiest at-a-glance numbers to get an idea of throughput. Pulling a report on the number of tickets raised can give some insight but be careful- on its own, it can give a false impression. To get a true impression of ticket handling efficiency, you also need to look at the number of contacts made to the desk.
By looking at the volume of contacts into the desk, you will start to get more valuable insights. High Contact to Ticket ratios can suggest issues that require a deeper dive into your stats. A common reason for high contact to ticket ratios is users making multiple contacts to the desk to get a ticket resolved. Understanding this figure will help you identify potential training opportunities or inadequacies in your IT systems and infrastructure.
Does your service desk manage multiple locations? Breaking down your report by the origin of contacts and tickets helps to understand if there are location specific issues. You might also consider breaking this down by business unit or department. Are some locations using different hardware or software assets? If you are receiving high incidents from your finance department for example, is there a common theme relating to their software? Does your sales-team use remote access applications? Does your satellite office get the same training and help at onboarding stage as your main premises? These are some of the potential issues that a location or department breakdown can help you identify.
Other trends can be broken down by time. For example, time of day, day-of-week or a month-by-month trendline. This can help you in the future that you have enough analysts available at peak times. You might also understand the effects of any new IT implementations on your service desk by noticing ticket or contact increases in a particular period. One thing we encounter often when we run an audit before partnering with a client is that the data is not being normalised. Naturally, some months have fewer working days than others so this must be accounted for. For example, many businesses there will be fewer tickets in months where you have bank holidays as there are fewer users at work. Make sure to apply normalisation to your data in order to get a truthful trend.
How many of your tickets are resolved in one single motion by your first line analysts? In one of my previous pieces, we focused on one of the most important metrics for and IT Service desk - First Time Fix Rate. This is one of our favourite metrics as it is so closely aligned with customer satisfaction. When a user picks up the phone or sends a ticket to the service desk, they expect a quick resolution, preferably an immediate one, especially when reporting incidents that are interrupting their own work. How you define, track and analyse your FTF can have a big impact on managing performance and processes. It is also a great way to keep your team user-focused.
If your first-line resolution rate looks great, but for some reason it doesn't match up with the feedback you get from users, it could be that you have some rubber tickets bouncing around in your system. Keep an eye out for tickets that are passed to other teams only to rebound right back or be sent around in a loop. It might look like it has been dealt with appropriately by your first line but actually, has taken days or weeks to get resolved when it needn't have. Of course, there will be occasions when an escalation is relevant, or that the ticket was sent to the Service Desk but was actually a matter for another department such as facilities.
How many tickets are languishing in the system for weeks or months and why? Some systems create automated tickets that do not actually require an analyst’s attention but they can still create a build-up of ignored issues. If this is the case, you would need to exclude these from your analysis. If this is not the cause of your high aged ticket rate, then you may have cause for concern.
Your system should track ticket type into these two very distinct buckets. An incident identifies a technical issue whereas a request could be as simple as a user requesting access to a new app or a password reset. Of course, it is best to have more requests than incidents. High incident numbers suggest deeper IT issues such as stability or user training so if this trend appears in your reports, you know it is time to look for patterns and root causes where the same incidents repeat themselves.
Reporting should be regular, meaningful and highlight actionable insights. Keeping on top of these core metrics will not only help you identify training issues and how to better organise your processes but can also help you defend your organisation against major incidents as you spot issues before they become critical.