Plan-Net, as a provider of managed IT services and as an IT consultancy, has performed numerous scopings for its customers over recent years – a scoping being the process of assessing, distilling, analysing and reporting on a customer’s IT support service with aim of identifying opportunities to improve service, to reduce cost and to maximise value.
Through the course of running IT service scopings, Plan-Net has compiled the standard findings into a benchmarking matrix. Such a benchmark is a useful tool as it allows the comparison of one service with many others and it allows us to know how an individual aspect of a service fairs against the average or within a minimum to maximum range. It can help sense check a current service and potentially contributes to the setting of targets for service improvement.
However, it’s not the process of maintaining and using a benchmark that I would like to discuss. Instead, it’s the common absence of a support metric that most Service Desks fail to record.
Ticket Resolution Method is a metric that tells us the conditions under which a Service Desk analyst managed to resolve a ticket, i.e. did the analyst resolve the ticket by: guiding the user over the phone or via email dialogue, leaving his/her desk to perform a deskside visit, using remote control tools, or referring the user to suitable self-help material?
In our 15 most recent scoping exercises (including firms across multiple sectors with staff numbers from 300 to 6500), only one Service Desk recorded the resolution method used for each ticket.
The reason the resolution method is so useful is that it provides Service Desk management with an indicator of efficiency, which on its own is useful, but which also helps to make sense of other support metrics.
Even if just two options are available to an analyst when selecting a ticket’s method of resolution, the information it ultimately provides a Service Desk Manager is extremely useful:
- Phone/Email – Indicating the analyst resolved the ticket only by entering into dialogue on the phone or via email
- Deskside Visit – Indicates that the analyst left their desk to visit the end user in person
There are two main distinctions between a ticket resolved by Phone/Email, and those resolved with a Deskside Visit. If resolved by Phone/Email, then the analyst remained at his/her desk, thereby avoiding travel time around the building and gaps in time from resolving the preceding ticket and taking the next. Additionally, a ticket resolved by Phone/Email doesn’t require the analyst to be off-service, i.e. unable to answer in-bound phone calls to the Service Desk.
If the ratio of tickets resolved by each of the two methods can later be reported on, then immediately the Service Desk Manager will have a metric which can be used to help improve their service. Unless an organisation specifically wants to provide its users with deskside support (and some do despite the cost), then the Service Desk manager can begin to take steps to increase the volume of tickets resolved by Phone/Email, thereby reducing the number requiring more time consuming deskside visits, and so making the Service Desk more efficient. Such efficiencies may then be noticeable in other areas: call abandonment rates (the frequency that users attempt and fail to phone the Service Desk) may reduce as a result of having analysts on service for more of the time, and Service Level Target performance may improve as less time is lost to Deskside visits.
Reporting on resolution method can also be useful when looking at individual analyst performance. An analyst with relatively low tickets resolved per day, with a higher ratio of Deskside Visits versus Phone/Email resolutions, might be able to improve their overall performance by being less keen to attend to desk and to do more from their own workstation.
Further efficiency gains may also be made if additional methods of resolution are available, for instance if a Service Desk maximises the use of remote support tools. Remote tools can be a good alternative to deskside visits as they can accomplish the same outcome but in less time. If available to an analyst as a resolution method option, tickets resolved in this way should further support the Service Desk Manager in improving his/her service as the reliance on Deskside visits could fall further.
The merits of recording resolution method, using it as a KPI (key performance indicator) of a service, linking it to other support metrics, and ultimately achieving performance and financial gains could be discussed and debated until the cows come home. But a call to action might simply be the recommendation of recording this useful metric as part of your ticket resolution process. The overhead of recording it will be negligible on your analyst’s time but will provide valuable information on what might be considered the most important part of your incident management process – the resolution.
Jon Reeve, Principal Consultant