However, if we want to transcend to focusing on the value of service to organisations, we need to look at things differently.
Traditional IT measurements
How many times have we either provided standard IT metrics to our clients or, as clients ourselves, received those well-known measures from our providers? I’m referring to those reports on service performance over the previous month because that’s what the contract requires to be delivered. But do they really tell the business how IT has contributed to its overall performance that month?
The monthly ritual of providing data to demonstrate how IT Service Management has performed over the previous weeks is something we all know needs to be done. But in reality, how valuable is the data we provide?
Yes, there is an absolute need to track and report on service availability, volume of incidents, changes and problems and so on. But outside of the IT department (and for those concerned with fulfilling contractual requirements), does anyone care?
IT Service Management has the capability to bridge that gap (or sometimes chasm!) between IT and the business, but it needs to drive the translation rather than wait to be asked.
Translating the impact of service
In my many and varied conversations with clients, it is not just the performance of IT services they want to know about per se, but rather the impact those services have had on the business (good and bad) through the month.
Has a specific event led to a degradation in customer satisfaction or reduction in expected sales? Did the additional work undertaken to safeguard service during a peak period for the business translate into heightened order volumes, and so on?
This component is often lost in the monthly reporting cycle, and as such, misses a huge opportunity. A more comprehensive report could demonstrate the value that IT service has contributed to the overall performance of the organisation during that period – and where it is negative, what specific areas of focus improvements will be actioned to reverse that impact.
Many of us at various points have tried to provide some additional context to the standard metrics – calculating an arbitrary figure to provide a rudimentary cost of impact for major incidents and so on. However, this often feels like adding a business lens onto IT metrics after the contract has been signed and the measures agreed.
This can indeed add some value and should be encouraged, particularly for those services mid-contract.
Of course, the positive side-effect is further collaboration with the business and a recognition of innovative thinking.
For example, we defined a measure for an existing client that would enable the organisation to see the impact of service interruptions on the volume of units sold (compared against historic time and day data) or onward delays for their customers. We provided the impact in both commercial and client satisfaction measures.
Aligning IT metrics with business objectives
If we are to demonstrate to clients that IT is there to support and enable the business to achieve its objectives, and is a foundational element to the overall success of the organisation, we need to show it is not just there for its own purpose.
Conversations about how IT performance will be measured to reflect value to the business need to happen early on in the engagement and at the pre-contract stage.
This will deliver useful and informative reporting from day one that will benefit the client and help necessary and appropriate decisions to be reached. It will visibly state what value the services deliver, what the associated impact actually means to the business, and just as importantly, what it means to their client base.
A blend of traditional and value-based metrics must be agreed on at the initial stages of the contract. This ensures IT Service Management has an active, influential role within the business itself – something I think we would all benefit from.