Chapter 1: Introduction – The Definitive Guide to IT Service Metrics


We know change is inevitable. However, in many cases we don’t seem to be fully prepared for the change. This is becoming more apparent in the Information Technology (IT) industries and organizations as changes in cultures and the working environment seem to meet greater resistance. Changing our technologies is relatively easy due to the rapid nature of change in our hardware and software and our willingness to apply these changes to remain up to date. Therefore, change is commonplace in any technology field; or is it?

Managing the infrastructure, both hardware and software, in our technology-centric world has commoditized the technologies and the skills to implement and manage the technologies. What we are not doing well is managing the business side of our technologies; and it’s here that we find resistance to change. Managing technologies from the business viewpoint requires that cultural change in our mindset, attitudes, and methodologies. Higher levels of structure and discipline must become commonplace within our organizations to manage change from both the technology perspective and, more importantly, the changing business perspective. This requires new ways of managing the environment to create a service-oriented culture which provides value to the business while giving true purpose to the IT organization. And yes, we know you’ve heard this before and that everyone understands this ‘service’ mindset. Yet, we still struggle to get there.

We see so many individuals pushing back and rejecting service provision as just a new fad in the industry which will fade away like so many others in the past; but is it really fading away? The reason and justification stems from what is perceived as additional workload and burden on an already busy work day. Finding the time to develop and document metrics, implement and manage the tools to measure, and finally creating reports and meeting with the business regularly is difficult and as such, these activities are prioritized last. Ironically, a great deal of our measurements already occur; we just need to collect the measurements and metrics that provide evidence of our service provision. For example, look at how many measurements we use while driving our cars; we have the speedometer, a tachometer (measuring the engine’s rotation), gas gauge, temperature gauge, oil pressure gauge, and so on; all used to measure the quality of our driving experience. We can find this in our IT environments as well. We just need the structure and discipline to change the way we work to provide good service and report the metrics showing our success.

As organizations begin down the service path, one of the more challenging areas, and the reason for this book, is the development of measurements and metrics that demonstrate value to the business and customers. IT has always had the ability to measure technology and performance but now we are asking IT to measure service provision and value to the business. In essence, we must now use our metrics to tell a story. This story must tell how the service is meeting the needs of the business and demonstrating value to either the internal or external customers using the evidence from our measurement activities.

While all measurements and metrics should provide value to the organization, in many cases a single metric provides limited, but valuable, information concerning performance. We see the power of a metric unleashed when combined with other metrics to give context and provide a complete picture of performance (further discussed in Chapter 2). Utilizing multiple metrics provides a greater understanding of the situation at hand and improves decision making when determining what actions to take.

This book contains several defined metrics to help tell that story of success and prove the value proposition offered by IT or a service provider. We provide several attributes for each metric including:

  •   Metric ownership – both the process and the role
  •   Stakeholders – who uses the metric or receives value from the metric?
  •   Description – identifying the metric purpose and use
  •   Formula (when applicable) – basic formulas providing a starting point for measuring
  •   Acceptable Quality Level (AQL) – sets a target for the metric.

Our goal is not to have you use these metrics straight from this book but rather provoke thought and innovation in the creation and use of metrics to bring value to your organization and business. As you develop metrics for your organization, you will find many metrics can be used for multiple processes and services. The benefits found within these metrics offer opportunities to provide evidence of activities such as:

  •   Demonstrating service or process performance
  •   Trending metrics to understand both the past and possibly the future
  •   Justification for need or acquisition
  •   Establish baselines and comparing against the baseline
  •   Troubleshooting
  •   Improvement opportunities.

There are many other tasks and activities that will use these metrics to offer proof of actions taken or evidence of actions to take.

The metrics in this book can be used directly in your environment and can offer benefits to both the IT organization and the business. However, the innovation is found in developing and collecting measurements and then bringing multiple measurements or metrics together to tell the story of success based on factual evidence of execution.

We hope you find value in this book and share it with others. Enjoy!