Would you want the dashboard in your car to only tell you how many speeding tickets you have received or how many times you had a flat tire or ran out of gas? Probably not. Then why create a dashboard in your Service Management tool that only shows you how many SLA’s have already been breached, how many instances of Priority 1 tickets occurred yesterday or what the customer satisfaction level was for work performed last month?

Just like the dashboard in your car, your Service Management Dashboard should provide indicators of the current performance, capacity and capability that provide a measurement of how well the engine (or in the case of Service Management the process) is performing.

There are two types of indicators. Lead time indicators and lag time indicators. Lead time indicators are measurements taken at critical points in the process to describe what is occurring within the process. The primary focus of your Service Management Dashboard, the metrics displayed on them, and the notifications these metrics trigger, should be on these lead indicators. Lead indicators serve as early warning signs that something is wrong before the customer of the service is impacted. Properly monitored, this can allow you take corrective action, or better yet automate a corrective action, and avoid any adverse impact.

While the primary focus should be on lead indicators, there is a valid need for displaying lag indicators. Lag indicators are typically quality indicators and measure the output that was received by the customers. The real value in showing these on your dashboard comes when you display these in the right context to show trending over time. Trending these upward or downward can serve as an indicator that something is occurring in the performance of your service enabling processes that is having either a positive or negative impact on services.

Regardless of whether the metrics being shown are leading or lagging indicators, they should be important and related to the business. They should have a direct link to the strategic goals of the organization and targeted at driving a desired behavior.

As well, dashboards should be relevant to, and actionable by, the audience using them. It is often useful to have different views of the information presented on the dashboard based on the purpose or outcome important to the viewer. For example, in your car you may have a dashboard that shows mileage information if your goal is to conserve gas and another if you are in performance mode and your goals is to get the best possible performance from your engine. The same applies in your Service Management Dashboard. Someone responsible for managing the financial aspects of a service would need to see a different set of metrics from someone responsible for managing service capacity or someone managing service incidents.

Finally, the most important advice is to keep it simple. Graphs and widgets should be easy to interpret and make key information easily visible so that the user understands at a glance when action is needed. After all, whether it is a dashboard in your car or your Service Management dashboard, the goal is to get you where you need to be and not to distract you with information overload to the point you lose sight of the road ahead.

Published by: Chuck Spencer