In a recent post, I discussed the importance of your service agreements. This post we will look at how well we respond either to breaks in service or a user needing something from IT. The response to these of course needs to be measured against your service level agreements. The COBIT 5 Service Request and Incident Process has as its objective the timely and effective response to user requests and incident resolution. This means restoring normal service, fulfilling user requests, and escalating and resolving incidents effectively. This includes recording what happened so that improvement can take place the next time.

A key element differentiating COBIT 5 from ITIL Version 3.0 is the notion that response should be timely and effective. This is strengthened when you consider the process goal—it is to “achieve increased productivity and minimize disruptions through quick resolution of user queries and incidents.” Think about this: The request and incident process is not about establishing process—it is about efficiency and effectiveness of IT delivery. And as you probably know by now for IT management, the most effective organizations simply cost less.

Goals for request and incidents

To improve here, COBIT 5 suggests IT organizations measure themselves against three process improvement goals. Let’s explore each along with their recommended metrics to get a better idea of the impact of this process as a whole. 

1.                  IT-related services are available to use. This says as directly as possible that the measurement of incident and request are against a service. Two metrics are used to measure success against this goal: number and percent of incidents causing disruptions to business-critical processes, and the mean time between incidents according to IT-enabled services. These two metrics put the focus on service and most importantly, on reducing the incidents that matter and lengthening the time between the next incident.

2.                  Incidents are resolved according to agreed on service levels. This goal ties back to my previous post on service agreements by looking at the timeliness of IT’s response when things break. For this goal, one metric is recommended: percent of incidents resolved within an agreed-on/acceptable period of time. Obviously, the agreed on period of time referenced here is the service agreement itself—how well do you respond to the fix-it side of SLAs? This is an area where getting better really does matter.

3.                  Service requests are dealt with according to agreed-on service levels and to the satisfaction of users. Want to fix you image with the business—invest time and effort here. HP IT put support people in the lobby of our offices for several weeks and everyone moved to loving IT. Two metrics are recommended to manage this process goal: level of user satisfaction with service request fulfillment and the mean elapsed time for handling each type of service request. These metrics simply put give you fact and perception.

So where should you start?

As always, my suggestion is that you start where the most immediate value can be driven. But if it were up to just me, I would start with goal area No. 3: service requests. If you want people feeling like the McDonald’s slogan—“I’m lovin’ it” —fix this.  What do you think? What would be first on your list? I would love to hear back from you.

Related links:

Blog post: Making COBIT 5 part of your IT strategy

Solution page:  IT Performance Management

Twitter: @MylesSuer