Posted by Stephen Mann on October 14, 2011
Earlier this week, I attended the Hornbill User Group (or "HUG" as it is affectionately known) to listen to Malcolm Fry, IT service management (ITSM) legend and author of "ITIL Lite," talk about ITSM metrics in the context of ITIL 2011.
There is no doubt that metrics have long been a topic of interest, concern, and debate for ITSM practitioners (I wrote a piece a few years ago that is still the most popular item on my old blog site by a huge margin), and IMO I&O organizations struggle with the area due to a number of reasons:
- I&O is not entirely sure what it is doing (in terms of metrics) and why.
- We often measure what is easy to measure rather than what we should measure.
- I&O can easily fall into the trap of focusing on IT metrics rather than business-focused metrics.
- I&O organizations often have too many metrics as opposed to a select few (often led by the abundance of reports and metrics provided by the ITSM tool or tools of choice).
- There is no structure or context between metrics (these can be stuck in silos rather than being “end-to-end”).
- Metrics are commonly viewed as an output in their own right rather than as an input into business conversations about services or improvement activity.
However, that’s enough of my waffle …
So what did Malcolm say?
An early and interesting point was that we aim for, and then reward, failure. We set targets such as 99.9% availability rather than saying "we will aim for 100% availability, and we will never go below 99.9%." So in some way, we do admit defeat before even starting.
Malcolm also pulled up a slide showing Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (hadn’t seen that for a while) to segue into a Hierarchy of Metrics … we should be thinking about where our metrics sit within this.
Malcolm also offered up the concept of looking at ITSM performance as simply as "good day" or "bad day," rolling up lower-level measures into a single view as per the incident management example below.
With follow-up as appropriate:
- Good Day = quick review and special actions
- Bad Day = what went wrong and how we can stop it happening again
Finally, Malcolm offered up his top 10 tips for IT service management metrics:
- Understand at the metric hierarchy.
- Collect everything but only report that what needs reporting.
- Make sure each level understand their roles.
- Metrics should measure success not endorse failure.
- If in doubt collect the data.
- Metrics will evolve as trends and futures appear.
- Make sure that new technologies capture correct data.
- Make sure everyone knows their roles.
- Don’t set targets that wrongly drive behaviour.
- Ensure that you understand the nature of the recipient.
Care to offer up any of your own IT service management metric advice?
Note: Malcolm Fry kindly consented to Forrester's use of his IP for this blog.
UPDATE: Two popular ITIL-related blogs:
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