August 11, 2008

Principles of metric design

Posted in ITSM tagged at 2:40 pm by Molly


Specific – does the metric measure a specific process or part of a process? If the metric measures parts of a 2 different processes there is a danger that neither process owner will feel responsible for achieving the result.

Measurable – is the metric measurable? You may need to measure the time your customers are on the phone to the service desk, but if you do not have a switchboard or PABX that can give you the times of calls you will not be able to track this.

Achievable – would it be possible for the service desk to close all calls within 3 mins? If it takes 2mins to fill in a screen with all the callers details (obviously if you have a good CMDB this would not be the exercise or time frame) then you are only allowing one minute to solve the call – which is probably not achievable!

Realistic – does it make sense to measure the time that incidents keep the status of ‘waiting’? there might be lots of different reasons this call might be in this state. If you don’t know what the reasons are, then being asked to reduce this tiem is not realistic. In this case, the solution would be to split this status into for example:
‘waiting for customer call back’
‘waiting for 2nd level support’
‘waiting for software patch’

The important point is to ask yourself whether this really is measuring something in the real world, rather than something that is just part of the software package!

Timely – if you measure the performance of the service desk once a month and one metric is customer satisfaction, base on quarterly surveys, then you don’t have a timely metric. Customers could be dissatisfied for 2 mths before your metric would show it!



If metrics are not explained well and how to achieve them not well understood, the door is open to resistance, rejection, disillusionment and easy excuses for non-compliance. So explain them well, make them easier to read and understood by everyone involved from the reader to the producer.

It would be better to step back and ask what is important.

Some Other metric design methods:

GQM – Goal – Questions – Metrics – Method

MAPE – Mean Absolute Percentage Error


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