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Why Using The Wrong KPIs Can Cripple Your Help Desk

Why Using The Wrong KPIs Can Cripple Your Help Desk

Have you ever heard the phrase “If you can’t measure, you can’t manage”?

This mantra of using metrics to inform management decisions is commonly credited to Peter Drucker, who emphasizes the fact that you can’t know whether you’re making progress unless your progress is well-defined and tracked. Drucker emphasizes your need for clearly established metrics— Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)— to enable you to meet your goals.

IT help desks need to be thinking about how they can improve services to your users. Without appropriate quantitative metrics, how will they make sure your teams are getting the right support that enables your business to be more productive? Without clearly defined objectives AND KPI metrics that clearly fit those objectives, your IT help desk will be aimlessly attempting improvements: Improvements that might actually make their IT support and service WORSE!

What I want to focus on today is that while most help desks are trying to track their progress through KPIs, they fail to utilize the right data (and often the wrong KPI) to address their service problem.

Why Measuring Is NOT Enough?

What’s hard to come to terms with is that if you’re measuring the wrong metric or not completely measuring an important indicator, you could very well be interpreting the complete opposite conclusion than you should. And what’s worse is that using the wrong information to improve your help desk usually causes more harm than good.

What you should be thinking about when it comes to help desk management?

The bottom line of good performance tracking is measuring the right things. And measuring them correctly. If you mis-measure, you’re stuck in a similar boat as if you weren’t measuring anything at all.

Mismeasurements = Mismanagement

Garbage in, garbage out. If you were to bake a cake and replaced the milk, butter and eggs with water, would you end up with the same velvety cake you’re used to? Probably not. The same thing goes for using and interpreting your IT help desk support data. If you start with data that either isn’t precise enough or is riddled with errors (mismeasurements), you are almost certainly going to make the wrong decisions and conclusions from it.

What are common mismeasurements in help desks?

Tickets accidentally left open— At many help desks that I’ve audited, one of the biggest reasons why help desk service isn’t improving is because when a help desk is evaluating ticket response and closure times, it doesn’t sort out anomalies—tickets that had been closed, but weren’t recorded as so. That leads them to assess problems that aren’t real and avoid the big issues affecting your users.

Time to ticket closure—As a result of tickets that had been accidentally left open (see above) or from problems in timing tickets (not having efficient ticket timer process), many help desks fail to review data that truthfully reflects your users’ experience.

Mis-classification of support tickets—A huge problem in and of itself, if not given proper guidance, help desk technicians often mis-classify the type of ticket they are working. Consistent ticket type nomenclature is critical to evaluate what types of problems are tripping up your help desk and inform your help desk management how to improve their process.

The right data (subsequently, the right answer) to your help desk problem critically relies on what you want to accomplish and turning that operational goal into a precise performance metric. The precise IT help desk performance metric should be useful for you to specifically target your improvement objectives.

We all love metrics because they help us understand what’s going on, it makes setting targets easier and it discourages people from underestimating target-driven goals. Who could argue with a formulation like that?

Having measurable goals that are supported by measurable—simple, accurate, interpretable—data is the answer to making your help desk successful in supporting your users.

A detailed and focused metrics-based review process is essential to facilitate your help desk support to grow through issues and better support your users. How confident are you in your KPIs? Is your help desk constantly evaluating and reporting metrics? Are you seeing results? Contact us TODAY for a help desk health assessment.

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