Getting Started With Metrics

Written by Mg, PMP, ITIL Expert, Jan 11 2015

Critical Success Factors (CSFs), Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), and metrics… what does it all mean?  So much has been written on this topic, but looking at best practice frameworks like ITIL or COBIT or ISO 20000, can leave you wanting more or cross-eyed, as the information found within these disciplines is limited and/or confusing.

I decided to write this article as a means to bring clarity to the subject.  I’ve kept the examples simple in an effort to focus on making sure the concepts are well understood.  I hope you find it helpful.

Here they are:

Critical Success Factor – What has to happen for the service or process to successfully meet strategic business objectives? A CSF is simply a succinct expression of the business objective to meet. For instance, if a strategic business objective is to ‘have a capable workforce,’ a CSF would be similar, ‘to have a capable workforce,’ or ‘to develop a capable workforce.’ There isn’t a lot of detail. Further detail is expressed in the KPIs and then, the specific measurements used to calculate the KPIs.

Key Performance Indicator – A KPI supports the CSF. It can be thought of similar to a gauge found on the dashboard of a car or plane — needles point to numbers that indicate performance. What do we need to achieve to successfully support strategic business objectives (expressed in the CSF)? In the above example, If the CSF is to have a capable workforce, a KPI for the Service Desk may be to ‘ensure 70% of staff have supportive technology certifications.’ There may be 3-5 KPIs to support a particular CSF, and how these are determined is specific to the service or process developing them.

Metric – “Something that is measured and reported to help manage a Process, IT Service or Activity.” (ITIL) Metrics are used in conjunction with KPIs to measure CSFs.

Measurement – “The size, length, or amount of something, as established by measuring.” (Webster’s Dictionary!) Using the same example given above, if the Service Desk is calculating a KPI to ‘ensure 70% of staff have supportive technology certifications,’ they may have two or three different measurements to calculate the KPI result. One measurement can be the current number of Service Desk staff. Another measurement can be a count of those staff who possess a technology certification that qualifies and can be counted toward meeting the KPI. It takes these two separate measurements to perform the calculation. And when capturing measurement information, it is important to document the source of the data, the owner of the data, how often the data is to be collected, reported, etc. 

Difference between KPI and Metric – A metric is simply a number that has been calculated for your purpose. A KPI is a metric that is tracked over time and thereby, provides a point of reference and an ability to see trends to help you manage a CSF. And this is why all KPIs are metrics but not all metrics are KPIs.

Describe the three types of Metrics (per ITIL):

  • Technology – These are often associated with component and application-based metrics such as performance, availability, etc.
  • Process – These metrics can help determine the overall health of a process. KPIs can help answer key questions on quality, performance, value, and compliance in following the process.
  • Service – These are the result of the end-to-end service. Technology metrics are normally used to help compute the service metrics. Customer Satisfaction is an example of a service metric.

Describe Thresholds (Target, Warning, Action)Thresholds refer to the value of a metric. At the Target level, a KPI is successfully meeting business objectives (CSF). A Warning Threshold indicates a monitoring status — similar to a yellow traffic light, it represents ‘proceed with caution.’ This KPI, while it doesn’t require immediate action, has reached a level that requires close monitoring. And, finally, an Action Threshold indicates management action is necessary. The KPI is not achieving acceptable results and some management action is necessary if business objectives are to be successful (CSF).



ITIL v3 Foundation Certification and My Career…

Written by Mg, PMP, ITIL Expert

I cannot speak for everyone who has taken the plunge and become ITIL v3 Foundation certified, but I can speak for myself.  And, with my experience, I have learned first-hand, there is simply no replacement for the level of understanding you can quickly achieve with this knowledge, especially if you are process-oriented.

Continue reading…


Request or Incident? A Quick Way to Tell…

Written by Mg, PMP, ITIL Expert
A user contacts you and admits the company’s key financial application with an online user interface is not displaying a ‘Thank you!’ pop-up message at the end of an interaction with a customer. Without further questioning it’s easy to assume the user is reporting a service disruption. One of the key moments I remember in my training as a Senior Service Desk Analyst at IBM for the American Express Service Desk is Process Owner, Karen G., drilling into my head and the 99 other Service Desk Analysts… “If it’s something they have and it’s broken, it’s an incident. If it’s something they don’t have and they want, it’s a request.” She said this with increasing intensity, several times in a row to drive the message home… and until it became our mantra. She was emphatically showing the dividing line to a brand new North America Service Desk set to go live in a few short weeks, supporting 33,000 end users — many of us with no former ITIL training. That simple differentiation holds true with most things you’ll encounter from users at the Service Desk.

3C920278In the case of the financial application, querying the user to understand if they are making a request or reporting an incident could be as easy as asking, “When was the last time it worked correctly?”  And, the user would tell you something like, “Well, the application has never done this before. But it is something I want it to do. I think the “Thank you!” pop-up would be a great improvement in customer satisfaction.” And, now you’re on your way with the Request Fulfillment Process.