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Measuring business value in ITSM

Blog posted by: Richard Josey – Lead Service Management Consultant, Thebes Group, 21 July 2017.

Measuring business value in ITSM

How do people working in IT Service Management (ITSM) measure success and – more importantly – what should they measure?

Richard JoseyWhat tends to happen in ITSM is people measuring against internally-focused metrics: the number of incidents, service level agreements on incidents, the number of failed changes which have caused an incident, and so on.

However, the key to measuring real ITSM success is business value – and that means thinking about it from the perspective of your customer. For a car manufacturer, the number of cars rolling off the production line is a key business metric; measuring how ITSM supports such business metrics is where you need to focus your attention.

To develop a clear understanding of how and where business value is created in an organization needs communication between different departments so people appreciate what each part of a company does. This is about understanding the context of what someone in the business who needs IT support is trying to achieve. In turn, this helps ITSM to prioritize what they do based on what is really critical to the success of business operations.

Measuring business value

If you look at the work of the service desk, it partly fixes things that are broken. But what is the value of fixing something that shouldn’t be broken? What you’re doing isn’t providing business value but mitigating business loss.

Conversely, the other principal part of service desk activity – responding to requests – is an area where you can actively measure the business value ITSM delivers.

So, what value can you measure and how?  Here are some examples, that are not 100% scientific, but close enough to be practical to measure and provide an accurate enough picture to be useful.

  1. Productivity
    Assuming that every time you fix a laptop problem, it allows the person to get back to work and be productive. Measuring the value of this – a cost reduction that goes to the bottom line – can be based on assumptions of an employee’s cost per day and the time spent by IT to fix the issue.
  2. Employee satisfaction
    The satisfaction an employee takes from a positive experience with the service desk is a tangible measure. A poor service desk relationship damages the relationship between employer and employee. By increasing employee satisfaction, and creating happier staff, they tend to be more productive and deliver business value for the company.
  3. On-boarding processes
    How long does it take for IT/ITSM to provide what new employees need to be productive? You can measure how long it takes to get people up and running and whether this lead-time matches the level of agility the business requires. Some companies need the ability to handle changes in people numbers quickly; providing that effectively equates to business value.
  4. The impact on Continual Service Improvement (CSI)
    There’s no point measuring business value if you don’t have some form of CSI.
    So, measuring costs of fixing an incident plus the loss of productivity and knowing what you need to do to reduce those costs is where CSI comes into play. Also, if you’re deploying processes that don’t make sense you can shorten the amount of time it takes to fix things.

Where many organizations get it wrong is by taking the easier option of focusing on internal metrics. Unfortunately, that’s not necessarily measuring what customers actually care about.

An organization’s IT leadership needs to drive the understanding of why measuring real business value is vital and what to look for. The Business Relationship Management process role as outlined in ITIL® shouldn’t be ignored and is an essential way to understand what customers consider as business value and how to ensure it’s delivered.

Ultimately, this means communicating with those beyond the IT organization and selling the idea that engaging with IT will have impact.

Read more AXELOS Blog Posts by Richard Josey

CSI in IT: 6 steps to creating a culture of improvement

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