Report on the itSMF UK Service Management Metrics and Reporting seminar - 04 July 2012 - Birmingham
The itSMF UK seminar on 4th July, 'Service Management Metrics and Reporting' chaired by Laura Jay, took place in the Think Tank Museum in Birmingham. This science museum claims to offer "everything you thought you knew about the world - but didn't". A bit like the day's presentations, really, except the focus was metrics...
John Sansbury from Infrassistance was the first speaker and talked about 'The WRONG ways to measure and report'. John asked whether service desk performance is in fact measured correctly and said first-time fixes are one of the most mis-used statistics. John said that all measurements should be focussed on what the customer wants and what you're trying to achieve. An interesting point was raised, as to why we don't survey the non-responders including the people who don't actually raise incidents. Are they bypassing the system in some way? Are they deeply unhappy with the service? He also asked how data is used to drive continual service improvement - a common theme reflected by all the presenters.
After the break, Steve Ingall from iCore Ltd presented on 'Measure what matters'. Steve questioned why we measure and our underlying motives (e.g. retain the contract, avoid service credits, deflect blame, cover your backside) and that we should measure what's really important to the business. Steve said that each person can only process seven pieces of information at any one time so we need to keep information relevant, concise and accurate. Reports should be aimed at the correct audience: we're all familiar with huge tomes of data sitting in the corner gathering dust, but they are only useful if the content is read and acted upon by those who are empowered to do so.
He left the audience with an interesting thought: if you could only measure one thing, what would it be?
Lunch was excellent but confused the attendees. The chips were made of sweet potatoes and orange in colour and hence studiously avoided by those thinking they were carrots, even though they were delicious! Afterwards Chris Roberts gave an itSMF UK update on future events and the latest publications available in the itSMF UK bookshop.
Following the update, Steve Straker from Fujitsu Services gave a thoroughly entertaining presentation, 'Understanding and designing reports - ten questions you don't want to ask'. He started with a quote: "Statistics are like a bikini. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital."*
Steve showed us how to present data in multiple ways and how to use colours to best effect. He also showed how data can be manipulated to mislead the audience by changing functionality such as skewing the axes on a graph. A lesson for us all to check what we're being presented with by our suppliers! He also suggested ways to portray information to different users (whether to use '1 in 7' or 14% for example). Steve went on to ask the audience to know the 'EQC' for each service so that statistics provide justifiable answers for every service manager. This means:
• I know my customer's expectation of the service.
• I know the quality of the service.
• I know how this compares with other similar services.
The final speaker of the day was Susan Storey, an SDI Auditor, who presented 'Bringing metrics to life - the service desk story'. Susan explained how to produce graphical data for the service desk and showed how the dashboard style of presenting metrics can be used. Susan said it was important to use the tools you have to the best advantage; even simple reports can be useful and don't have to be too 'clever' to be appreciated. She then showed how data understood by a service desk audience could be misleading to other recipients
Her key lessons included:
• one set of data may be all you need so use it well
• whatever we measure will influence behaviour
• be clear - are you measuring or checking progress?
Laura Jay rounded up the day with a recap of the main discussion points. One final suggestion was to stop sending reports out and see if anyone notices!
*Aaron Levenstein Former Professor, Baruch College, USA