When discussing the toughest challenges that IT service management (ITSM) professionals face, performance measurement is among the most frequent mentions. It might sound surprising, as IT service desks usually have sets of metrics to evaluate different service parameters, but many of them are uncertain about the effectiveness and appropriateness of those metrics.

In some cases, doubts rise after a benchmark comparison with competitors or industry’s best practices. More commonly, help desk managers are worried because current metrics don’t generate any actionable insight, and don’t contribute to improve the quality of service – that’s why they would appreciate some guidance about performance measurement.

According to the Service Desk Institute (SDI), about 90% of IT service desks have formal performance metrics in place, and the two most measured items are the volume of incidents (96% of respondents track this) and the number of service requests (89%). Customer satisfaction is third in their ranking, but it stops at 74%.

Measuring these parameters is important, but we shouldn’t limit to them. As per our experience, it might be interesting to collect data about first level and first incident resolution, correlating them with issue escalation and re-opened service requests. This provides useful information about the effectiveness of first level support, and even about the type and complexity of incoming tickets, with the opportunity to define self-service tools to facilitate the resolution of basic queries.

Time is a highly important parameter, as it is directly influencing end user satisfaction: do not forget to record the average time to respond to incidents and requests, and the average time to solve them. With these data, it won’t be impossible to achieve beneficial information about service costs. However, only 17% of IT service desks questioned by SDI measure the average cost per incident – this means they miss a valuable metric to evaluate service efficiency.

Considering the increasing focus on customer experience, and the availability of advanced analytics that ITSM tools nowadays offer, KPIs will probably get more attention in the near future, and IT service desks will combine quantitative and qualitative measurement techniques to have even more accurate performance management systems.