Understanding the numbers

It’s very important for you to understand the numbers of your IT business. There are certain things you should know if you are going to support your company effectively.

Let me give you an example. In conducting an IT assessment for a small company many years ago, I asked the IT resource responsible for their Help Desk, “How many client support calls do you get a month?”

The reason I asked this question was because I had learned from the IT clients (Senior managers and Department managers) that IT was poor in following-up and in communicating the status of their support requests, , , sort of like, “things just fall into a black hole”.

It’s a simple question and doesn’t even get into the detail of:

  • What is the mix of type of calls you receive?
  • Where do the majority of calls come from?
  • What is your response rate?
  • Who on your IT staff is getting most of the work done?

A good Help Desk process captures this type of data and tells you what’s going on.

The technical resource answered, “I don’t know.”

What did this tell me about how Help Desk support was being conducted?

You got it, , , this IT organization wasn’t supporting the client very well, , , and the rest of the IT assessment verified it. If you don’t know what kind of support calls you are receiving, how many, where they are coming from, how quickly you are responding, and who is doing the work, , , then you don’t know very much about your support business.

And if you don’t know much about your support business, , , it is very hard, if not impossible, to support your client very well.

It is imperative you understand what’s going on so you can determine what to do and where to focus to become a more effective IT support organization.

There are many other numbers you need to know. Here is a short sampling:

  • How much is IT spending?
  • How much is IT spending as a percentage of company revenue?
  • Where are your major expense areas and how significant are they?
  • What are the spending trends of your major expense areas?
  • How big is your business application software request backlog?
  • How much programming output are you getting per programmer each month?
  • What is the quality level of your programming support team?
  • How many users per desktop support technician in your company?
  • How long does it usually take to resolve a support issue?
  • How happy are your clients?
  • What are the trends of client satisfaction surveys year over year?
  • How effective are you in delivering projects successfully?
    • On time
    • Within budget
    • Meeting client needs
    • Achieving expected benefits

Collecting and tracking the numbers of these types of things helps you understand the “Business of IT”.

Your approach in what you track doesn’t have to be complex or even sophisticated. Basic information can tell you a lot and even give you a good story to share with your client.

Let me give you another example.

Let’s say you just start tracking the number of Help desk calls you receive in a month, , , just the total number of calls that come in. After 30 days, you learn that it is roughly 400 calls in a month and half, or roughly 200 calls a month are printer related, , , some kind of printer or printing type of issue.

You analyze the information captured in these printer support calls and determine you have similar trends that are causing a lot of the printer support issues.

You and your team devise a preventive action strategy to prevent these specific types of issues from occurring, , , and sure enough, after a few months, your printer calls go from 200 per month to less than 100 calls per month. That’s a 50% reduction in the number of printer problems your clients report, , , a POWERFUL and POSITIVE story.

Here is why:

  • You realize there is a problem
  • You track and measure what’s going on
  • You take action with preventive strategies
  • The positive results show up in the numbers

A chart like this is as simple as you can get but as simple as it is,  it tells management you are operating more like a business than just working on technology. It says you recognize what the issues are and you take action to do something about it, , , preventing client problems is actually a BIG DEAL.

It’s a positive story for many reasons:

  • Your client’s productivity improves
  • Your IT staff support productivity improves
  • Hassle factor for the client goes down, , ,  and they like it

Knowing your numbers and understanding the dynamics of your support business is key. Make it a focus to better understand all parts of what’s going on in your business and you will see an improvement in how others perceive your organization.

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