Measuring  & metrics – all or nothing

You can’t manage with metrics – there is much more to management than just numbers.

You can’t manage without metrics – if you don’t measure what you are doing, you can’t measure whether you are improving or doing worse.

The problem is that the sort of people who enjoy metrics are often analytical types. They’re interested in numbers and calculations, not people. The sort of people who are interested in people are often not that keen on numbers and analytical processes.

Sometimes the solution seems to be to go to a vendor. Some vendors can offer software that measures hundreds of metrics ‘out of the box’. It looks like an easy option, but, sadly, the metrics that you need are not necessarily the metrics that these solutions will measure. It costs money to measure metrics, and report them, so simply using this scatter-gun approach will be expensive and produce poor returns.

Is it impossible to do anything then?

No. It is perfectly possible to get valuable business information from well designed metrics and use these to enable the delivery of value from IT to the business. There are a few important things to remember:

  • Ultimately your metrics must be related to a business strategy, goal, objective or tactic.
  • To achieve this, metrics must be designed top-down, from the business view to the technical view
  • Design is an important word. Metrics have to be produced with an understanding of the requirements for them – what value does the business actually require
  • It is best to implement metrics in a balanced fashion. If you want to measure, say, call time so you can reduce the time spent on calls, then you need to also measure the customer satisfaction with the calls so that you don’t end up satisfying the metric, but at the cost of upsetting your customers.

Metrics for Service ManagementDesigning metrics for your services and processes should be part of your overall service design activity, as outlined in the ITIL V3 book ‘Service Design’.

It is also worth looking at the detail of how to design measurements across the whole lifecycle of a service, based on business value. The book Metrics for Service Management: Designing for ITIL considers the importance of metrics from the perspective of the lifecycle of a service, the processes that support the delivery of the service and the organisation that must deliver value through the deployment of these services.

To be successful, it is important to take a holistic approach to all measures across your organisation so that they can be consistent, achievable and related to the delivery of value.

Peter Brooks - Author of Metrics for Service Management

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