Flow Metrics for ITSM
Flow Metrics of a different kind existed previously only in the project management world. For ITSM, the Focus Framework's TOFT tool-based practices introduce them for the first time.
TOFT practices are all built upon, and produce, many Flow Metrics. They remove all 21 common operational issues affecting IT support. They provide detailed team and service performance knowledge reflecting actual service experience outcomes, and they add many new managerial capabilities.
There are two kinds.
Activity Flow Metrics
Their main aspect is for Contribution Recognition.
A practice of Contribution Recognition has two compelling merits:
Confirmed by Gallup Inc. research, when individual contribution is accurately and fairly recognised, the information is wanted by team members, producing 2.5 - 3.5 times greater levels of engagement in work.
IT support and other customer service teams are uniquely advantaged in being able to produce accurate and fair contribution recognition, by introducing flow metrics.
TOFT components that include Contribution Recognition ("TPM Insight", and the more advanced "TPM Organise") take consideration of all operational nuances and requirements to produce performance metrics of absolute accuracy - the most engaging contribution recognition possible.
More input (flow of ticket activity from engaged teams) produces better service outcomes - timelier and more attentive.
Contribution recognition aligns a team to achieving on their purpose of reliably meeting needs and expectations, and complementing the uplift, Activity Prioritisation is the way to provide support as effectively as possible.
For manageability, the Focus Framework includes an important principle for support teams:
All front-line support teams must have a maximum work-time beyond which teamwork or escalation is expected. Routine tasks that always take longer should be covered under a dedicated role that is exempt.
TOFT's Team Together practice brings fully integrated asynchronous collaboration to how teams work, to systemically minimise escalation and improve speed of service through flow. How often this form of teamwork happens is an advanced activity flow metric that can be a contribution objective.
Based on maximum work-time, TOFT's Flow Monitoring practice is particularly beneficial for managerial support in remote and dispersed teams. In particular, Activity Gap and Total Time-on-Ticket metrics provide similar managerial insight to that gained from PBX telephony systems used by call centres, primarily of excessive call length. Managerial capabilities arising from this kind of information, in knowing when help and support might be needed and offered, or escalation coordinated, have historically been completely missing for other teams... for most of an IT department.
Flow of activity is vital for the success of front-line support, in any support team. It needs to be closely managed and assisted. To make a big difference beyond the call centre, managers cannot succeed alone. High performing self-managing teams, managerial assistance simply "by exception", and thorough continual improvement of knowledge and procedures is needed. That is what TOFT practices bring.
Flow Monitoring is bundled in our TPM apps alongside Contribution Recognition, Team Together, Continual Procedural Improvement (with a CPI Register), and Quality & Security Protection for attentive inductee support. All are integrated with one another and use different types of activity flow metric.
Status Flow Metrics
At a basic level, Status Flow Metrics power Activity Prioritisation (AP), which of all TOFT practices makes the biggest difference to success of an organisation's support service, but...
Without Contribution Recognition, neither basic nor advanced AP can be introduced because there would be no reason to work together as a team. Unless helping-out is recognised, teams can only be expected to continue working in silos.
Contribution Recognition (performance, ideally including teamwork) and Activity Prioritisation (timely ticket progression, ideally incorporating teamwork) go hand-in-hand. They are the twin pillars of support service improvement. Activity and status flow metrics complement each other perfectly.
Status flow metrics also provide extensive actionable insight into how well service is performing as a whole.
All flow metrics are actionable, in real time and retrospectively, enabling a wealth of fully informed directional, strategic, and supportive decisions to be taken. For instance, which teams are not "keeping up the flow" so well, and why? Who is truly excelling and so deserves praise? Who is struggling and so need managerial support? Are there any teams performing so well with progressing workload that their progression threshold periods for activity prioritisation might be reduced, so that mean-time-to-resolve will reduce? Or instead, is there scope to focus more time on improvement tasks because the team's performance is well within bounds?
Actionable insight includes a range of "exception management" capabilities too, for unprecedented day-to-day manageability and attentiveness in a support service. Activity Gap metrics are a good example. So too is Status Level Backlog - when excessive, managers might coordinate heightened teamwork for "assisted progression", to prevent timeliness from falling out of control.
In the Focus Framework, an exception is seen against a Reference Acceptability Threshold (RAT) that's established by ITSM managers and configured in TOFT apps to guide decisions made from information presented on Pulse Dashboard monitors.
Without TOFT - without Flow Metrics for ITSM - these essential qualities are missing and so the status quo is, and always has been, global deficiency in how IT support is done, and in how it is managed.
The most important Flow Metrics are: