Like any other business unit, IT organizations can benefit from reporting and real-time analytics. Unfortunately, those depending solely on an IT service management system like ServiceNow® to generate reports have limited insight into their operations. With different types of reporting and analytics available to address specific needs, it’s important to understand how your business can most effectively get the insights you want.
In particular, organizations will find value in reporting and analytics around three key capabilities: monitoring, measuring, and analyses.
Monitor: Real-Time Visibility
It’s critical to have a real-time view of your IT processes and infrastructure so that your people can quickly respond to issues and prevent major outages. For example, an IT organization should have visibility into what major outages are occurring in customer-facing systems, whether any key servers are running out of memory, and if there are any bottlenecks in transaction processing. Today’s IT organizations use a number of systems to track activities in real time, ranging from application performance monitoring to real-time alerting systems.
Measure: KPI Trends and Dashboards
Equally essential are analytics that monitor the health of the IT organization to provide department-wide transparency and measure service quality and efficiency. KPI trends and dashboards offer visibility into the key metrics you use to measure the organization’s long-term performance and generate reports for executive management. KPIs might include the number of incoming incidents, change success rates, resource utilization rates, or IT spend versus budget. If you’re not sure what KPIs to measure, consider looking at the numerous ITIL KPIs from the IT Process Maps wiki or the KPI Library (registration required), which allows you to benchmark your organization’s performance against that of others.
Analyze: Root Cause and Ad Hoc Analysis
The third category of analytics is arguably the most important, as it identifies opportunities for improvement. Ad hoc analysis enables you to pinpoint outliers, identify correlations, and answer new questions as they arise. In addition, root cause analysis helps you get to the bottom of a problem and determine exactly what went wrong.
Consider this example: Your organization’s backlog of open tickets for Workday has doubled between last month and this month, from 40 to 80 tickets. The average age of tickets has also increased from 20 to 40 days. Something is obviously wrong, but the cause could be any number of things: understaffing, the complexity of issues coming in, the number of associated problems, an increase in changes, an increase in users brought about by the onboarding of a new division, and so on. Performing root cause analysis will allow you to pinpoint the origin of the issue. If the problem stems from being understaffed, you could then use ad hoc analysis to ask additional questions. For example, you could investigate the possibility of redistributing work among your current team or explore the business case for hiring new staff.
The heart of root cause analysis is about asking questions — and lots of them. Consider the best practice of asking “5 Whys,” a technique pioneered at Toyota designed to help uncover weaknesses in IT processes.
Getting the Information You Need
In order to effectively manage the IT organization, you need to be able to monitor, measure, and analyze. Systems like ServiceNow® tend to have good built-in operational reporting tools for monitoring where outages are occurring and which areas you need to focus on as an organization.
However, to measure performance you need dashboards and KPIs that will track metrics on a weekly or monthly basis and provide transparency throughout the organization. You also need to be able to interact with data at will, slicing and dicing numbers to identify patterns. A solution like Numerify is designed to handle all of these needs, providing you with the visibility necessary to effectively manage IT.
[Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.]