Archive for the ‘helpdesk’ Category


The focus of this study was to determine which commonly implemented ITIL best practices in the Change, Release and Configuration Management disciplines were, by statistical measure, the best predictors of IT performance excellence. The ITPI researchers condensed their findings and categorized them into seven sets of related practices, comprising 30 different individual practices (ITPI, 2007). Of these 30 individual best practices, five were found to match the KPIs used in this evaluation of GM’s Change Management program. These five ITPI best 59 practice performance indicators were change success rate, emergency change rate, unauthorized change rate, release impact rate, and release rollback rate. The ITPI study defined these KPIs as follows:

  • Change Success Rate – changes that met functional objectives and were completed during planned time
  • Emergency Change Rate – changes are tracked, but do not get standard review before they are implemented
  • Unauthorized Change Rate – percentage of changes that are unauthorized; changes made without being tracked by the standard change/release process
  • Release Impact Rate – percentage of production releases that cause a service outage or incident
  • Release Rollback Rate – percentage of production changes in the last 12 months that were rolled back

Part of the study compares GM’s performance to the ITPI study ranking of top-, medium-, and low-performing IT organizations for these five best practices. Top performers are defined by ITPI as the IT organizations performing in the top 20th percentile of all survey respondents (ITPI, 2007). It was found that GM performed better than the average of the top-performers in all of the best practice areas except for Emergency Change Rate (Urgent Changes), where GM (at 10.08%) had more urgent changes on average then the top-performers (at 7.10%) but less than the medium-performers (at 12.70%). Or put another way, GM was higher than the topperformer’s mean emergency change rate by 41.97%.
Table 11: Comparison of GM ChM Program Performance to ITPI Study KPIs
ITPI Study Performance Ranking
IT Best Practice KPI                         General Motors          Top                     Medium               Low
Change Success Rate                        98.03%                          96.40%             92.50%                81.30%
Emergency Change Rate                 10.08%                            7.10%             12.70%               22.90%
Unauthorized Change Rate              0.05%                            0.70%               3.20%               11.40%
Release Impact Rate                            0.21%                            2.90%               5.60%               11.10%
Release Rollback Rate                         1.05%                            3.30%               3.80%                 8.50%
ITPI–IT Process Institute; KPI-Key Performance Indicator

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Robert HalfIn a presentation entitled “Staffing Strategies for the 21stCentury” by Katherine Spencer Lee, Executive Director at Robert Half Technology (September 18, 2008), the following IT staffing metrics were presented:

A Robert Half Technology* survey asked 1,400 CIOs to compare …
Actual versus ideal ratio of internal end-users to technical support employees at their company

  • Mean response for Actual was 136:1
  • Mean response for Ideal was 82:1

Technical Support Center staffs are 40 percent smaller, on average, than optimal.

Mobile vs Static staffing ratios:

  • There is a baseline ratio around 90 customers per analyst.
  • Technical and mobile user bases earn a lower ratio due to higher complexity (1:80-110)
  • Fewer analysts required for non-technical and static users (1:120-160)

Organizational goals should help set staffing levels:

  1. Compete at the cutting edge of innovation (25:1 to 50:1)
  2. Compete on full service and overall value (60:1 t0 100:1)
  3. Compete on thin cost margin and scalability (125:1 to 200:1)

A complete copy of the Robert Half presentation can be found here.

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PinkA laundry list of sample metrics for IT processes was developed by Pink Elephant.  This document provides a detailed list of over one hundred metrics for the Service Desk and each of the ten ITIL support and delivery processes.  The list includes ITIL metrics for:

  • Configuration Management
  • Problem Management
  • Change Management
  • Service Delivery Processes
  • Capacity Management
  • IT Service Continuity Management
  • Financial Management
  • Service Level Management
  • Incident Management

Click here to download the complete “Laundry List of ITIL Metrics”.

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Help the Help DeskThis is the most comprehensive study that I have seen on IT Staffing.  It was written by Lon D. Gowen, Ph.D., Lead Systems and Software Engineer at the MITRE Corporation.  The paper is entitled “Predicting Staffing Sizes for Maintaining Computer-Networking Infrastructures”.  It was published in 2000.

In this paper Gowan presents benchmark data for the “Number of Users Per FTE of CNI Support” for

  1. Systems Administration
  2. Help Desk
  3. Break/Fix
  4. Configuration Management

These numbers were observed in both a DoD and a Private sector enviroment.  Acutal numbers are presented in the paper and are compared to numbers predicted using a COTS modeling tool.

Full paper available at: Predicting Staffing Levels

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A “Information Technology Operation Benchmarks Report” created by Nick Ganesan, CIO/Associate Vice-Chancellor for ITTS aQuality Benchmarkt Fayetteville State University.  The report contains detailed benchmark data for:

  1. IT Budget Profile
  2. IT Budget per IT User
  3. IT Budget as a Percentage of Institutional Budget
  4. IT Users to IT Staff ratio
  5. IT Staff to Number of PCs – Ratio
  6. Staffing Profile by service area
  7. PCs to IT User Ratio
  8. Central IT Support Percentage
  9. Staff ratio by service areas

The benchmark data is against IT services at universities located in the United States.

Location of Report: http://www.kfupm.edu.sa/sict/ictc/related%20documents/IT%20Benchmark/Fayetteville%20State%20University%20IT_Benchmarks_ver1.pdf

Local Copy: IT Benchmark for Universities – Fayetteville State University Report

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TechRepublic has provided a spreadsheet model to help you determine the right number of people in your IT shop.  In their approach, they focus on one category of staff at a time.  In each category, a few key questions are used to focus the analysis:

1. Programmers

  • Is there a separation between application development and support?
  • Do programmers work on multiple business applications?
  • Are external clients supported, and if so, is there customized code for individual clients?
  • Are major investments needed in software development of critical business applications?
  • How big is the programming backlog, and what type of changes are being requested?
  • Can the key business processes be accomplished better and more economically with a third-party solution?
  • If you have external clients, can programmers be dedicated to and billed to specific clients?

2. Business application analysts and trainers

  • Are new applications planned?
  • Does the company support the installation of software for external clients?
  • How knowledgeable are the departments and clients in the use of their business applications?

3. Help Desk specialists

  • Are infrastructure calls separated from business application calls, or is the Help Desk support functions for both combined?
  • How responsive do you need to be?
  • Does the Help Desk have sound escalation procedures?
  • What’s the level of client satisfaction for IT support?
  • Is the response rate to solve user issues sufficient?
  • Do you have a tracking system to monitor support calls, trends, and responsiveness?
  • How many calls is the Help Desk handling now?
  • What is the percentage of local users (as opposed to remote)?
  • Does the company require 24/7 staffing of the Help Desk?

4. Network administrators

  • Are major changes or enhancements planned/needed for the infrastructure?
  • Is an experienced architect of the network in place?
  • What has been the history of implementing infrastructure changes?
  • Is there an infrastructure strategic plan?
  • Is a change management process in place?

5. Desktop support specialists

  • What are the company growth plans?
  • Are major changes planned/needed in the desktop hardware/software?
  • What is the percentage of remote users (other office buildings, cities, etc.)?
  • Is the response rate to solve desktop issues sufficient?

6. Data Center operations staff

  • Does the Data Center require 24/7 operation?
  • What are the requirements for the Data Center?
  • Is a “lights out” operation possible?
  • Is the Data Center secure?

Using this model IT staff needs are based upon a number of factors, including the workload, anticipated needs, current capability of the staff, and maturity of the company. As much as possible, we try to quantify all the variables in each set of issues. Ultimately, it’s a judgment call based on the variable data, the level of support that you need to provide, and your experience in managing IT. If you can quantify the variables that affect levels of support, you’ll be much better equipped to determine your true needs.

A full description of this approach can be found at: http://articles.techrepublic.com.com/5100-10878_11-1061079.html?tag=e106

A copy of the IT Staffing Model in an Excel spreadsheet can be found here:  http://downloads.techrepublic.com.com/5138-6321-730024.html

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Coastal TechnologiesCoastal Technologies, developer of HELP!Desk software, has published guidelines for determining the number of technicians needed to staff a support center.

Establishing the proper support staff to customer ratio is essential for any organization. Each of the factors in the table below has an effect on the staff size. Assume a starting ratio 75 to 100 customers per analyst (75:1 to 100:1), then adjust the ratio for the following conditions:

Consideration Support Staff Levels
Experienced support staff Decrease
Customer handling expertise Decrease
Large number of products to support Increase
Multiple shifts and weekends Increase
Support staff possesses knowledge of the organization’s business Decrease
Internal support only Decrease
External support only Increase
Both internal and external support Increase
Service Level Agreements negotiated Decrease
Budget concerns Decrease*
Multiple platforms to support (i.e. Web, PC, Mainframe, Mac) Increase
Automated tools in place Decrease
Experienced support center management Decrease
Support center has good reputation in company Decrease
Center has bad reputation Increase
Multiple support center locations Increase
Quality Assurance or Quality Control responsibility Increase
Proactive support philosophy Increase**
Support center has additional responsibilities not listed above Increase

* = A staffing decrease may be required to meet your budget, but too small a staff can create bigger problems later on – dissatisfied customers, excessive stress, technician burnout and high turnover to name a few.

**= Initially, proactive support requires more staff per customer. The trend is reversed down the line as you should see a decrease in customer problems.

Source: http://coastaltech.com/hd-staff.htm

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