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Why Good Metrics Don’t Always Equal Success

I love cake, don’t you?

There was a cake at the big meeting, so you know it was a happy time.

Our company had just completed a year-long initiative to implement ITIL – a process improvement effort to make IT more efficient. We were celebrating the completion of a ton of work- this was tough for such a big organization.

Unfortunately, there is an unwritten rule in Corporate America that you must have PowerPoint BEFORE cake. Sigh.

I watched the presentation holding back my thoughts about what kind of cake I was about to enjoy.

The “big win” we were celebrating was the reduction in the number of service tickets – a 25% drop in the number of calls and emails into the service desk reporting problems.

25% was even written on the cake in sloppy blue icing.

“Yay! Fewer issues – we’re amazing!”

But even as I took a bite of my slice of cake – a white cake with a raspberry filling – I knew we shouldn’t be celebrating that particular number.

The truth of the matter was the big number we were all supposed to be excited about was the opposite of what we thought we’d get.

From a few conversations with customers, as a result of the new processes and procedures we put in place – our service desk got MORE DIFFICULT to work with. They were figuring out ways to fix things WITHOUT having to call the service desk.

As we became less effective, people called less and less.

That’s not really an occasion for cake.

That’s the danger of metrics – if they are incomplete – they can be misleading.

Metrics are not bad – but relying solely on them as a barometer to gauge success (or not) is not wise. No set of KPIs fully encompasses a customer’s experience.

Be careful when designing metrics for your organization – if you depend on them as the only source of truth, you can be deceived.