Using helpdesk tickets to assess your company’s IT strength

In a previous blog post, I wrote about how to hold your IT department accountable. It’s easy for most C-level executives to evaluate employees whose work falls within the company’s core focus area, but “the IT guy” tends to be more difficult to assess. I believe it is just as important for business leaders to understand how to interpret some specific IT metrics. Of particular interest are helpdesk tickets. Using the number of helpdesk tickets closed within a set time period gives you a gauge on the state of your IT department, whether it’s in-house or outsourced.

First, let’s clearly define what is meant by “closing a helpdesk ticket”

Generating a helpdesk ticket (or issue within the network) can happen a couple of ways. Your company’s hardware or software may open a ticket automatically if it’s properly set up to connect with a monitoring system. Or employees who are having an issue with some technical aspect of their environment may manually open new helpdesk tickets.

Once the ticket is active, either an internal or external IT resource will receive an alert to respond. Upon fixing the issue, the IT worker should then close the ticket to indicate that it has been resolved.

Want to see how a professional information technology helpdesk operates? My colleague Zack Wildman has presented a behind-the-scenes view of an IT helpdesk and also wrote about performance metrics behind IT helpdesk technicians.

Track the closed/resolved rate of helpdesk tickets and the average time to resolution

A few numbers offer a true baseline approach to assess the ticket efficiency of your company’s IT department. Most observers start by looking at the helpdesk tickets opened in the past two years. How many were closed/resolved, and what was the average time to resolve?

Simple so far, right?

But there’s a catch. We haven’t yet considered an even easier metric.

Notice the trend line of new helpdesk tickets being created

When I look at the tickets opened and closed throughout a two-year span at a business, my first focus is not on how many were resolved and what was the speed to resolution. Rather, I concentrate on the total count of tickets generated each month and look for trends.

If you begin to notice an upward trend in the average number of new helpdesk tickets per month, it’s a clear sign of trouble around the corner. If that seems like simple and logical advice, good! In my experience, however, many business executives measure their internal or outsourced IT departments on speed to resolution rather than on the number of tickets created per set time period.

Stop measuring how fast your IT department is putting out fires as the primary metric to assess your company’s IT performance. Start to consider ways to drive down the average number of fires being started—helpdesk tickets opened within your network—each month. The more proactive an IT department can be to drive down the “day-to-day fires” of a network, the more effectively that department can spend time trying to find ways to integrate applications, run better reporting methods, and leverage different technologies to compete against regional and national competitors.

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