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Do you measure your incident backlog?

May 5th, 2010

Incident backlog provides an informative KPI that you should consider adding to your reporting repertoire. The KPI should measure the number of incidents outstanding that have missed an SLO or SLA. The KPI should be trended over time and should either be stable or decreasing.

In the example chart below, we can see the backlog rising over the last three months.

Incident Backlog

In this example we see the backlog increase by 50% over 3 months and should be investigated. To determine how urgent the issue is the first thing to explore is to breakdown the  backlog by incident priority.

Open Incidents

It would be highly unlikely that a backlog with high priority issues would persist over a period of time and the chart above now shows that a majority of the back log are priority 3 and 4. This is fairly common and is often systemically ignored. However, it is worthwhile to examine further. 

The reasons for the rising trend could include:

- Second line support personnel are not closing tickets in your ITSM tool.

- Resourcing level may not reflect the current volume of tickets being received on the Service Desk.

- The organizations Change and/or Release practice is causing unscheduled spikes in incident volume

- Are their particular workgroups with particularly high backlogs that could indicate a bottleneck?

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Charles Cyna Uncategorized , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Anatomy of a KPI – Mean Time to Restore Service (MTRS)

March 3rd, 2010

Mean Time to Restore Service is an important KPI that most help desks measure (or at least should). MTRS tells us about the average customer experience a user has when a service interruption is identified.

To calculate the MTRS you take the total amount of time of open incidents divided by the total number of incidents logged in a given time period (normally a month). I would recommend that the KPI only show the top 2 tiers of classification as performance on lower classification would probably reduce the usefulness of the KPI based on how most organization service their lower priority issues.

Now the usefulness of KPI is just that, ‘an indicator’. If it is going in the wrong direction (i.e. up) there is no reason to panic – the most important thing is to identify whether there really is an issue and if so then be in a position to address it as soon as possible.

practice-indicators1

The first thing to look at in regard to MTRS is to see whether Incident volume has spiked. When incident volume changes unexpectedly, the help desk doesn’t have a chance to change resourcing so the average time to restore service will often rise.

analyze-your-mtrs1

The second thing Read more…

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Charles Cyna Uncategorized , , , , , , , , , ,

IT Service Delivery is a Journey not a Destination

December 8th, 2009

Organizations increasingly recognize that proven frameworks are key to improvement in IT Service Delivery and aligning IT operations to the needs of the business. Often the recognition that ‘things need to get better’ manifests itself through the purchasing of a new ITSM tool and/or the hiring of a consultant to implement some basic operational processes such as Incident, Problem and Change Management.  Meetings are held; documents are drafted, re-drafted and re-drafted again until everyone is happy with the outcome. The new tool gets implemented, the consultant leaves and those process documents that everyone spent weeks or months building get filed away in some electronic repository often never to be seen again.

If this scenario rings true, you’re not alone. Many IT departments treat Service Management or ITIL process implementation as a project and not a journey. Like losing weight, if you do not have a plan for ongoing success then the weight will come back and all the gains you made with hard work are simply lost.

Conveniently, the answer to help us through this scenario is given new prominence in ITIL’s latest incarnation of version 3. CSI or Continual Service Improvement, which was merely implied in previous ITIL frameworks, is now thrust into prominence and has its own book and its fair share of the limelight. CSI provides the process that drives the value out of your other ITIL practices. The Incident Management process in itself does not generate value – certainly, it would tell you something like how incidents can be escalated to reduce impact to the business. This in itself provides cost savings and improved productivity but it does not speak to the elements that drive a business; it does not tell us how many incidents we escalated last month, what the areas of improvement are and how we will do better next month. The incident management process assumes that everything remains constant – of course, the business changes.

CSI provides the wrapper to the ITIL processes you have in place. It enables you to baseline where you are today, where you need to be and to drive a path through to the goal. Getting a baseline for your existing performance is key, because it is difficult to get to your next destination if you don’t know where you are today. The good news is that there is a range of knowledge and resources that can be tapped inexpensively to help you through this process. For example, The ITSM Coach from ThinkITSM gives you the ability to assess your end user satisfaction and help desk maturity for free, highlighting the area’s most in need of addressing. Often we know much of this information informally but to have objective data enables the change process and gets disparate groups on board to adopt positive changes in how work is done.

CSI and Quality improvement has revolutionized manufacturing and have given automobile companies such as Toyota and Honda a fundamental competitive advantage that they translated into market share gains and profitability. It is now time for IT to embrace quality improvement processes and truly drive business value from IT Service Delivery.

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Charles Cyna Uncategorized , , , , , , , , ,