Desktop Support Desk Best Practices - The Eight Essential KPI's for World-Class Performance

Published: 17th May 2010
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When it comes to end-user support, most people automatically think of the Level 1 Help Desk. The Help Desk has been extensively studied and researched, and the Best Practices for Level 1 Support are well documented and well understood. The same, however, cannot be said of Level 2, or Desktop Support. This critical support function has historically received far less attention than the help desk, and for most IT organizations it represents a fertile opportunity for performance enhancement. This is particularly true when it comes to Key Performance Indicators for Desktop Support.

In this article, MetricNet, a leading source of online benchmarks and a pioneer in Desktop Support benchmarking, identifies and defines the eight most important performance metrics for Desktop Support.

The Mighty Power of Metrics

The true potential of Desktop Support KPI's can only be realized when they are used holistically, not just to measure performance, but also to:

 Track and trend performance over time

 Benchmark performance vs. industry peers

 Identify strengths and weaknesses in Desktop Support

 Diagnose and understand the underlying drivers of performance gaps

 Prescribe actions to improve performance

 Establish performance goals for both individuals and the Desktop Support organization

In short, performance measurement and management is a critical discipline that must be mastered for any Desktop Support Organization that aspires to world-class performance.

The Eight Essential Metrics for Desktop Support

The average Desktop Support organization tracks fewer than 5 KPI's. However, there are literally hundreds of KPI's that have been defined for Desktop Support. The vast majority of these metrics, however, are only marginally relevant - at best!

When it comes to KPI's for Desktop Support, less is more! The eight that really matter are as follows:

 Cost per Ticket

 Customer Satisfaction

 Technician Utilization

 First Contact Resolution Rate (incidents)

 Mean Time to Resolve

 % Resolved Level 1 Capable

 Technician Satisfaction

 Balanced Scorecard

These eight metrics represent the 80/20 rule when it comes to Desktop Support performance: 80% of the value you receive from performance measurement and management in Desktop Support can be derived from these eight simple metrics!

The Eight Desktop KPI's Defined

How do we know that the eight KPI's listed above are the most important? Is it a hunch? Suspicion? An academic exercise? No, it's none of the above. We know that these are the eight metrics that matter most because the empirical evidence from hundreds of Desktop Support benchmarks supports this conclusion. But let us explain why these metrics are so critically important.

One goal of every business is to achieve the highest possible quality at the lowest possible cost. It stands to reason, therefore, that cost and quality should be measured on an ongoing basis. In fact, I would argue that cost and quality are the only two things that really matter. In Desktop Support, the most effective cost metric is Cost per Ticket, and the best indicator of quality is Customer Satisfaction. With this premise in mind, it's relatively easy to come up with the next four metrics on our list: Technician Utilization, First Contact Resolution (FCR) for incidents, Mean Time to Resolve (MTTR), and Technician Satisfaction.

Earlier in this article, we mentioned the importance of using metrics as a diagnostic tool to improve performance. So we have to ask ourselves, if customer satisfaction is one of the "foundation metrics" in the Desktop Support, how can we affect it? How can we improve it? Put another way, if customer satisfaction is suffering, what is the diagnosis?

Well, it turns out that customer satisfaction is affected by a whole range of other performance variables, including Average Response Time, and Average Work Time per Ticket, to name just a few. But the three biggest drivers of customer satisfaction - by far - are First Contact Resolution (FCR), Mean Time to Resolve (MTTR), and Technician Satisfaction.

Nine times out of ten when customer satisfaction needs to improve, this can be achieved by increasing FCR and Technician Satisfaction, and decreasing the MTTR. This is why world-class Desktop Support organizations pay so much attention to these metrics. They engage in a variety of tactics to continuously improve these metrics, including technician training, effective workforce management/scheduling, and technician incentives tied to improvements in FCR and MTTR.

But what about Cost per Ticket, the other foundation metric in the Desktop Support? It is common knowledge that labor, i.e. personnel, is the single biggest expense in Desktop Support. In fact, for the average Desktop Support organization, 74% of all costs are labor related: salaries, benefits, incentive pay, and contractors. By definition, then, labor costs are the greatest lever we have to manage the Cost per Ticket.

The best measure of labor efficiency is Technician Utilization. Because labor costs represent the overwhelming majority of Desktop Support operating expense, if Technician Utilization is high, the Cost per Ticket will inevitably be low. Conversely, when Technician Utilization is low, labor costs, and hence Cost per Ticket, will be high.

The next KPI on the list of "must have's" is % Resolved Level 1 Capable. This metric is a proxy for Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), and is a critical measure of overall End-User Support effectiveness. Without this metric, it is very possible for both the Desktop and Level 1 Service Desk to achieve a low Cost per Ticket, and hence appear to be very efficient, but in fact be driving a very high TCO. Specifically, if Desktop Support is achieving a low Cost per Ticket by handling a significant number of contacts that could/should be resolved at Level 1, this will dramatically increase end-user support TCO.

The average for this metric worldwide is more than 20%. That is, more than 20% of all tickets resolved at Desktop Support could have been resolved at Level 1! This is a stunning observation, and represents an opportunity to dramatically reduce the cost of Level 2 Desktop Support, and the total cost of end-user support (TCO) for most organizations.

The next metric, Technician Satisfaction, is strongly correlated with many other metrics in Desktop Support. High levels of Technician Satisfaction lead to lower turnover, lower absenteeism, lower work times, and higher First Contact Resolution Rates. These, in turn, result in lower Cost per Ticket, and higher Customer Satisfaction.

Progressive Desktop Support organizations therefore measure Technician Satisfaction at least twice per year, and take steps to ensure that they are maintaining high levels of Technician Satisfaction. Specifically, World-Class Desktop Support organizations provide training, career pathing, and coaching for their agents at well above industry average levels. This, in turn, leads to high levels of Technician Satisfaction and morale.

Understanding the interrelationships of the key Desktop Support KPI's is important, for it provides a roadmap for managing and affecting change in the organization. If your Cost per Ticket is too high, for example, the first place to turn for a remedy is Technician Utilization. Likewise, to improve Customer Satisfaction, the metrics that will affect the desired change include FCR, Technician Satisfaction, and MTTR.

We have now discussed seven of the eight metrics that are most important for managing Desktop Support. What about the eighth metric? What is the Balanced Scorecard, and how do we create one? Can a single measure really tell us the overall performance of our Desktop Support organization? The answer is yes, and we do this by aggregating a number of measures to come up with a combined, overall score for Desktop Support.

MetricNet's research shows that establishing a single, overall score for your Desktop Support organization is critical. We call this measure the Balanced Score because it truly does communicate a balanced picture of Desktop Support performance. This is a mechanism that utilizes the key metrics tracked by Desktop Support such as Cost per Ticket, Customer Satisfaction, and Mean Time to Resolve, and aggregates them into a single, all-inclusive measure of Desktop Support performance. Due to space limitations, the mechanics of creating a Service Desk Balanced Scorecard are addressed in a separate whitepaper authored by MetricNet.

About the Authors

The authors of this article, Jeff Rumburg and Eric Zbikowski, are both Managing Partners at MetricNet, the premier provider of performance metrics, benchmarks, performance reports, and scorecards for corporations worldwide.

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