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The Metrics System – Helpful Tools for Measuring Your IT Performance

Metrics are measurements that provide useful information for businesses. Also called Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), they can help spot strengths, weaknesses, trends, and areas for growth. 

Metric-based discoveries can be pivotal when evaluating your service desk. IT objectives are measured against productivity levels, user satisfaction, and bottom-line costs. These measurements are particularly valuable when determining two key components regarding your company’s service desk: 

  • Are the appropriate skills in place? 
  • How receptive are your employees to the current system? 

Tracking business performance is crucial for evaluation, improvement, and success. 

Metrics Matter

Think of metrics as the smoke versus the fire. They are data points that indicate what is happening rather than why it is happening. The analysis of what is happening provides the value of why. Metrics keep tabs on the performance threshold of a business and are internal measures that help track what to do and when to do it. 

Metrics can also act as levers – when a company pulls one lever, another lever may shift as a result. For example, a company’s decision to increase wages may lead to decreased employee turnover, however the bottom-line cost is now higher. Metrics balance analytics by knowing which lever to use and how far to push it, in order to make a positive impact overall. 

The timing of metrics is vital. The earliest indication or trend that triggers a performance issue allows your company to manage situations before they become larger problems. Detection prior to or during an incident addresses problems closer to real-time. Corrections can then happen as soon as possible to avoid having issues linger or become more complicated. 

True value is found when metrics are used to align the next steps for your business to grow and flourish. 

Service Desk Measures

When monitoring the performance and effectiveness of your IT service desk, metrics can be broken down into two categories: continuity and production. 

Continuity Metrics - These metrics provide feedback as to how well the service desk is doing in maintaining operations within processes and systems in relation to the end user and to internal functionality. Continuity metrics encompass responses, resilience, and knowledge regarding both the ability of the technicians to quickly and satisfactorily resolve end user issues, and in overall IT directives and processes. These metrics include: 

  • Business hours lost to IT down time 
  • Stability of the infrastructure as it relates to outages and disruptions 
  • Average resolution rate 
  • Average first response time 
  • Number of repeated calls for the same issue 
  • Cost of the Service Desk ticket as it relates to the total monthly IT operating expense 
  • Number of new tickets vs. closed tickets in a day 
  • Software and licensure expense vs. utilization 
  • Percentage of successful change implementations and interruptions 

Production Metrics - These metrics provide feedback regarding efficiency and effectiveness within service desk operations. They aid in identifying areas where processes can be improved, and costs can be appropriately allocated.  Production metrics include:

  • Volume of tickets handled and resolved within a given time frame
  • The ability of the service desk to resolve calls via the initial level of support  
  • Service Desk delivery within the planned budget 

Calculations Provide Insight

There are many methods that a business can use to monitor and track the performance of its IT service desk. Five of value are:  

  • First Contact Resolution Rate (FCR) 
  • Average Speed to Answer (ASA) 
  • Ticket Escalation Rate 
  • Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) 
  • Erlang Calculator 

1. First Contact Resolution Rate (FCR) calculates the percentage of IT issues resolved during first contact. A high percentage on this metric is indicative of a team that is effective and knowledgeable, timely and efficient. Improving a low FCR might prompt continued training alongside resources to aid in on-going and up-to-date education. Additional software, peripherals, and troubleshooting guides might provide the resources needed to elicit a faster response. To calculate FCR, the following formula is used: 

Issues resolved during first contact - Divided by total number of cases - Multiplied by 100 

2. Average Speed to Answer (ASA) is a metric for measuring the length of time it takes for the technician to connect with the end-user. A high ASA indicates elevated wait times and the potential for an understaffed or overwhelmed team. On the contrary, metrics that reveal an extremely low ASA may seem positive at first, however could also indicate that a service desk is overstaffed. There are actions that can lead to an improved ASA score including the use of chatbots to aid in the initial connection with the end user or enlisting a ticketing system to assist in issue management and prioritization. The ASA calculation involves: 

Total waiting time for answered calls - Divided by the total number of calls answered 

3. Ticket Escalation Rate is a metric that determines the percentage of issues that require advancement to the next tier, or level of support. The desire is a low score on this metric, as a higher score is indicative of a team that struggles to find resolution within the first tier of support. Inadequate training or a lack of resources may be contributors to a low score. This equation requires a defined period of time pertinent for review and is as follows: 

Number of escalated tickets - Divided by the total number of tickets received within a time period - Multiplied by 100 

4. The Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) is a direct representation of how happy your end-users are. A percentage-based metric used to indicate quality, the CSAT is measured through customer surveys and is an important vessel in eliciting feedback, thus contributing to process improvement. The higher the score, the stronger your service desk is at resolving IT issues and gaining satisfaction during the resolution process. If your business finds that its CSAT scores are falling below a comfortable threshold, taking a look at characteristics within communication, level of empathy emitted by the technician, and timeliness are contributing factors. CSATs help to determine satisfaction related to a specific experience, rather than an ongoing series. The calculation is as follows: 

Sum of positive responses - Divided by the total number of responses collected - Multiplied by 100 

5. The Erlang Calculator is a tool that focuses on staffing and helps a business determine the number of agents needed to satisfy its service desk volume. It gives consideration and measurement to the functionality of tech support calls. Essentially, the Erlang Calculator determines how much help is needed to achieve a desired end result. The calculation is intricate and focuses on: 

The number of staff needed, per number of calls received, in order to meet a service level goal 

Call Center Helper provides an online Erlang Calculator that is easy to use.

The metrics provided by these calculations empower businesses with a review of their service desk entity, whether it stems from in-house resources or an outsourced provider. Performance, satisfaction, timing, knowledge, and benchmarking are valuable areas to decipher when understanding how your IT department performs along with the satisfaction level of the users for whom it performs. 

Adding It Up

Metrics evolve as a company evolves. Those related to continuity help businesses monitor their systems and processes. Production metrics identify areas for process and cost effectiveness. Both categories of measurement provide and outline areas for focus, alongside reaffirming goals and expectations.  

Metrics uncover ways to increase return on investment and drive the overall direction of your business. Using these tools and criteria will assist in evaluating whether your company has the best, most reliable and most cost-effective IT solution for your end-users and your business’ bottom line.   

Visit our website and learn more about the Cayuse approach to Service Desk partnerships. 

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