A company I worked with managed the operation of all computers, including the network and help desk. The help desk and technical support performance was terrible; the client was preparing to cancel the contract, worth several $millions/year, and find another company.
The negotiations would require far more detailed reports about help desk performance. The current help desk reporting system could not provide what would be needed.
In other words, nobody could say what was going on.
Reports should help determine what isn't working and what could be done about it.
The help desk reports that were being produced did not show what management needed to know:
The service agreement had four time categories. The existing reports showed the number of calls to the help desk solved within each of those categories; what nobody had noticed was the number of calls that took longer than the service agreement was not being reported at all!
I brought all the information that might be relevant to management into a database: problem category, department, problem type, time of day, time to resolve the problem, etc.
I documented the exact procedure for importing the data and producing the reports, so anyone on the help desk could provide updated reports any time asked.
The old help desk reports were being done basically manually, taking data from the help desk system into Excel. It took someone three days to complete gathering the data, updating the charts, preparing and printing the few (almost worthless) reports.
The new system could generate updated reports within about 2 hours, from exporting the data from the help desk system to reports printed.
Instead of showing the current month's data, I showed the most recent 12 months of data, and running averages, displayed for easy management analysis.
I looked at the data from multiple perspectives: which departments, which problems, which categories of problems, which days of the week. I kept the reports and charts that let me see something that management could use (whether to demonstrate improvement, or to address a problem).
Then I brought the charts, and my analysis of what each chart showed, to management. They could see actions to take to make large improvements in the performance of the help desk, and to make large improvements in how the customer saw the help desk performing.
Management could now see changes in the patterns of problems. For example, if there was an increase in calls from a department last week, the source of the problem could be identified. Then, instead of the help desk helping people work around the problem, the problem would be eliminated.
Instead of the useless "% of calls solved within each time frame" simple one-month chart that was originally the main report, I made an informative chart showing how that changed over a year, This report showed the number of calls solved quickly was increasing, and the calls that took longer, especially the ones that took longer than the service level agreement, was rapidly decreasing.
With focus on the departments with the most technical support problems, and clarity about which problems occurred the most, solutions were rapidly developed and support people took care of them quickly.
Management had data to back up their decisions about what to address first, or why a problem a manager wanted resolved, should be put off until later.
The client's managers were receiving more specific and accurate reporting about what was going on, both what improved and what needed attention.
One report I produced was a simple line graph, thinking it should be part of the set of reports, but would probably not show much. I was surprised that it showed something nobody even suspected: the average time to resolve All calls had been steadily decreasing over the last six months, even as a new version of Windows was being installed.
That simple graph was so clear I raced to meet the manager of all computer operations for that client, as he was going to a negotiation meeting with the client. I met him at the elevator, showed the new report, and he used it in the meeting.
I was never in any of the meetings between my company and the client company, and it was clear from the questions management asked me of the reports, and what was happening or could be done to address the problems, that the reports were frequently used.
The new help desk reporting directly improved the responsiveness of the entire technical support department to the top problems, and directly affected the clarity and certainty that management had in negotiating with the client.
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