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BLOG: Re-examine your Metrics

Christopher Rixon and Chip Salyards | May 4, 2012
SaaS, Social Media, and the need for new metrics to measure I.T. service management SaaS providers.

New service delivery models for IT service management, such as software-as-a-service (SaaS), as well as emerging communications channels for support that include social media, will require some changes to the way you traditionally measure the effectiveness of your services. That's why you should re-examine your service metrics as you begin to rely more heavily on SaaS, social media, and a more services-oriented approach to IT delivery.

As organisations look to achieve the greatest return for their IT budgets, they are focusing more attention on the service desk applications that help assure quality service delivery. These applications include incident, knowledge, self-service, and problem management, as well as change, service request, and service level agreement (SLA) management. Aligning IT service management with the needs of the business requires an understanding of what metrics are most critical and how those metrics should change in response to new technologies and new business models.

Measuring the Effectiveness of SaaS for IT Service Management

The SaaS model provides greater flexibility at a lower cost but will also require new metrics to properly assess the outsourcers' performance and to hold them accountable to business needs. When you pay for a SaaS application, "real" money is stake in the form of actual payments to the SaaS provider. As a result, you may need to reexamine which performance metrics to gather for a SaaS provider and how to measure performance with more precision than is required with internal IT resources.

You need visibility into not only how well the SaaS outsourcer is performing based on its contract with the customer, but also how the outsourcer's performance affects IT's ability to meet its internal SLAs with users. This may require integration between the SaaS provider's IT service management system and that used by IT. This may also involve the correlation of the vendor's performance on their contract with the IT group's internal IT service management metrics.

Due to the shorter, subscription­based nature of SaaS purchases, you may also need to measure the vendor's performance more frequently in order to take appropriate action, such as by seeking a price reduction or looking for an alternate vendor in the case of poor performance. The opportunity to renegotiate a contract might come as often as every month.

The SaaS provider should deliver not just lower costs but also equal, if not better support than IT could provide on its own. Metrics may include up­time, productivity, and application availability, as well as transaction throughput.

Many organisations are looking to deliver and measure the impact of IT as "services" measured by their effect on the bottom line. The first effect is a move away from measuring relatively simple "on/off" metrics to measuring user satisfaction with the business function. User satisfaction may need to be measured against the levels promised by the formal service level contract with the SaaS provider (as compared to the less formal, internal SLA) and based on the elements of that contract that are monitored and measured.


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