Beyond SLAs: Collecting Meaningful Metrics

Google "most important help desk metrics"  and you’ll get a lot of very homogeneous looking results. Your screen will fill with titles like, Top Ten Service Desk Metrics, The Seven Most Important KPIs for the Help Desk, and Service Desk Metrics and Performance Indicators You Should Track. A quick look reveals the lists to be remarkable similar, and dare I say, unsurprising.  Measure the volume tickets, the time to response, time to resolution, support channel, customer satisfaction, etc. 

You should measure those things. Chances are good that you already are. Many of them are built-in to tools like Jira Service Desk. Those metrics provide useful information that tells you how well your support team, and your service desk tool are doing.  It doesn’t tell you too much beyond that though.  Metrics are powerful things. If we ask the right questions we can find out more about how our organizations function (as opposed to how they’re supposed to function) and what people really need. The right metrics can improve the way your teams (not just your IT support team) do business.

Meaningful Metrics Lead to Better Processes

Consider how you could use a few simple metrics as a way to evaluate and improve your business processes.  In their presentation at Building a Successful Service Culture, Laurent Bordier and Chris Arrington of Airbnb described how they collected every ticket an employee submits during their first 60 days in a report.  One can imagine how useful that information would be in editing an employee handbook or refining the employee onboarding process.

Knowing the most commonly submitted service desk request types could also be used to identify gaps in your self help knowledge base. Other possible process improvement might include assigning all tickets of certain type to a designated person(s),  setting up an auto-approval if certain conditions are met, and deploying automation to expedite certain steps in the process.  Determining whether or not these types of steps would be useful requires examining how your current processes are working- or if they’re generating a lot of support requests - how they’re not working.

The Data You Need But Don’t Measure

Of course, you’ll also collect a lot of data that you won’t ever report on, data that’s needed in ordered to service a request, but that’s unlikely to be referred to once the issue is resolved. In fact, as you expand the service desk model to teams beyond IT, your data collection needs will increase exponentially.  HR will need different pieces of information than Facilities.  Do you really want to go to the trouble of creating custom fields for all of those pieces of data if they’re never going to be reported on?

Of course not. However, counting on people to put all of the needed information in a description field is a gamble, and having agents and requestors go back and forth to get the right data is a poor use of staff time (on both ends). 

One way to manage this problem is to attach a form to the Jira issue/request. ProForma makes it easy for teams to create and deploy forms directly in Jira. ProForma forms can be designed to collect any piece of data needed, formatted the way you want and with validation set to support your business rules.  HR teams can create HR forms and Finance teams can create finance forms. Everybody gets the information they need in order to deliver their service. And for those data points that will be reported on (estimated to be about 20% of the questions on a business form), you can link the form field to a Jira field and thereby leverage Jira reports and JQL for collecting metrics.