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The Four Fallacies of IT Metrics

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the more-or-less-than-the-sum-of-the-numbers dept.

IT 223

snydeq writes "Advice Line's Bob Lewis discusses an all-too-familiar IT mistake: the use of incidents resolved per analyst per week as a metric for assessing help-desk performance. 'If you managed the help desk in question or worked on it as an analyst, would you resist the temptation to ask every friend you had in the business to call in on a regular basis with easy-to-fix problems? Maybe you would. I'm guessing that if you resisted the temptation, not only would you be the exception, but you'd be the exception most likely to be included in the next round of layoffs,' Lewis writes. 'The fact of the matter is it's a lot easier to get metrics wrong than right, and the damage done from getting them wrong usually exceeds the potential benefit from getting them right.' In other words, when it comes to IT metrics, you get what you measure — that's the risk you take."

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Business planning (5, Insightful)

InsightIn140Bytes (2522112) | more than 2 years ago | (#38378728)

It's bad business planning, but it's also the way any big name linux distroy works. Something not working on your Red Hat Linux? No problem, call us! And that's how they make money. They make money on the promise of fixing problems, and that includes saying that their OS is broken.

Re:Business planning (5, Insightful)

fsckmnky (2505008) | more than 2 years ago | (#38378764)

SCO was famous for this. $5,000 minimum support contracts, with $1,000 per incident fees, whether they fixed it or not.

"Thank you for calling SCO may I help you ?"

"Yeah, my manufacturing plant just shut down because your kernel panic'd."

"We're sorry to hear that, but you have the newest version, so there are no updates you can apply to resolve the issue. ($1,000 cha ching)"

Re:Business planning (5, Insightful)

AdamWill (604569) | more than 2 years ago | (#38378882)

Support doesn't just mean 'fixing bugs'. It also means 'helping you set things up right', 'helping you optimize your configuration', 'helping you figure out what tool you need for the job at hand', and so on.

Selling support does not require that the underlying product be broken.

Re:Business planning (4, Insightful)

sleigher (961421) | more than 2 years ago | (#38379582)

Wasn't there just a story recently about having gurus on site? Yet, in this example, the production system shut down because of a kernel panic? Hmmmm...

Any company that is relying on support to keep their production up and running deserves to be down and losing money. Just because some analyst uses big words in a conference room doesn't mean you don't need good people on staff that know their shit!

I hate IT and I am so sick of it. Here's an ask slashdot! What the hell can I do now? I hate this place! All I know is *NIX and enterprise storage. Load balancing and JBOSS. Virtualization and a decent amount of PERL and Assembly. Maybe flipping burgers ain't so bad after all...

Re:Business planning (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38379610)

Flipping burgers ain't bad if you own the restaurant.

Re:Business planning (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38379704)

As someone that works in support it would be nice if customers understood how to use their support system.
All the screaming and yelling that it's broke will not tell me what 'it' is or what is 'broken' about it.

Re:Business planning (5, Funny)

Gription (1006467) | more than 2 years ago | (#38380432)

I used to have two standard replys to the, "It's broken" type of complaint.
- "How can you tell? Is there an axe sticking out of it?"
and
- "How can you tell? Is it on fire?"

One day I had this young kid came up to me saying, "My computer is broken." so of course I respond, "How can you tell? Is it on fire?"
He looked a bit embarrassed and said, "Well it was smoking and made a buzzing sound but it has stopped now."
His one day old computer's power supply had burned up in a spectacular fashion.

(Still waiting to see an axe...)

Re:Business planning (3, Insightful)

CBravo (35450) | more than 2 years ago | (#38380670)

I always ask for facts (instead of conclusions):
-what do you see
-what did you do
-what do you expect to see

Lucky one (1)

Mathinker (909784) | more than 2 years ago | (#38380680)

> (Still waiting to see an axe...)

Lucky one. Many of us "see an axe" at least once or twice in our professional career.

Oh, you meant sticking out of a computer? Never mind.

Re:Business planning (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38379814)

'helping you set things up right', 'helping you optimize your configuration', 'helping you figure out what tool you need for the job at hand', Should all be done in the pre-sales cycle.

Support is a post sales function which keeps the sold solution running despite hardware failures and the like.

Re:Business planning (5, Interesting)

FairAndHateful (2522378) | more than 2 years ago | (#38380444)

Support... ... also means 'helping you set things up right', 'helping you optimize your configuration', 'helping you figure out what tool you need for the job at hand', and so on.

Worked at a support center... I was a "talk to them until they understand" guy, playing the long game... I figured while it might not take every time, if I got people to understand, they could get back to work and not break things for just a little bit longer. You know, it costs two people money if they have to talk to me while I help them.

One of my coworkers got huge amounts of management praise for processing lots and lots of cases... My management was too dumb to run numbers on how many callbacks he had, that the rest of us were fixing...

Yeah, sure I was spending too much time with each person, but half of my time was fixing this jerk's mistakes. There's probably some of that at every support center. It takes 10 minutes to fix a problem, but 5 minutes to get them to go away. You can look very busy by making them go away, if management isn't clever enough.

I'm rather happy with my new position... I get to review other people. And I do it fairly.

Any metric can be gamed (5, Insightful)

russotto (537200) | more than 2 years ago | (#38378788)

Losers realize this simple fact, instantly think of several ways to game the metric, then don't do it figuring that "obviously" the decisionmakers realize the metric is horribly broken. Then they get laid off. Winners spend hours, days, or weeks coming up with one way to game the metric, pat themselves on the back for being so clever, and do it. Then they get promoted, eventually to a position where they come up with metrics of their own.

Re:Any metric can be gamed (5, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#38378802)

Unfortunately, this is true. Evil will always triumph because good is dumb.

Re:Any metric can be gamed (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38378890)

Good isn't dumb, just properly restrained.

Re:Any metric can be gamed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38380196)

woosh

Re:Any metric can be gamed (2, Insightful)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 2 years ago | (#38380466)

Unfortunately, this is true. Evil will always triumph because good is dumb.

Evil will never truly triumph over Good because if it does it will have nothing left to eat next season.

Almost. (4, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | more than 2 years ago | (#38378848)

Winners understand that tech support is a stepping stone and treat it as such. Which means that they move up as soon as possible.

Tech support managers are under pressure to keep their costs down. So unless you're okay with working for less money than the others there (but still solving as many problems / answering as many calls) you will be replaced with a new, cheaper person as soon as they can find one.

The metrics are just there to justify replacing you.

Re:Any metric can be gamed (5, Insightful)

AdamWill (604569) | more than 2 years ago | (#38378900)

Yeah, this is pretty much the problem. Performance evaluation should really be done by crazy, high-tech methods such as you and your peers and manager sitting down and discussing what you've achieved, but that kind of thing is way too hard to stick into an Excel macro, after all...

Another classic example: call centres which measure 'performance' mainly by the average call time metric. Which gives tech support workers all the incentive in the world to give out any piece of bogus advice that'll get the customer to hang up as fast as possible. Or just hang up on them, if the phone system isn't sophisticated enough to detect it.

Re:Any metric can be gamed (5, Insightful)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 2 years ago | (#38379096)

As a widget-fixer, our analog is obviously how much shit we can fix in a given time frame. One of the biggest mistakes I've seen in multiple companies(ranging from laptop to medical device repair) is that the PHB keeps a board or chart showing how many widgets each tech fixed during a given timespan.

Any idiot can see that the misguided sweatshop-style metrics cause the following problems:

Cherry-picking - Techs choosing and even stashing away (!) the returns with the easiest and quickest problems to fix. It matters not that your expensive gadget has been sitting there for a month, there are numbers to be made and we'll get to yours when we want to regardless of the order they came in.

Racing - When there are no "easy" ones to be cherry-picked, then the techs will race to fix your item. They will ignore problems and cut corners on others. Stripped screw hole? Super-glue the screw in. Low output? Game the settings so the tests will pass. Part shortage? Cannibalize and rob Peter to pay Paul in a hardware-sort of Ponzi-scheme.
Status Quo and mediocrity - The top performers will become accustomed to the attaboys and will continue to produce slipshod repairs, even if there is a slowdown in work when they can do their job right. Meanwhile, the low performers will become used to it and feel no need to better their work.

My idiot boss in the company I'm in now considered it and was shot down by every tech. In this company, due to the variety of products, one person could make tens of thousands of dollars with 1-2 days work while another tech working on a different product will have to spend more labor and overhead juggling external vendors and all the headaches it involves only to make a couple thousand dollars. Yeah.

Fortunately, the consultants we brought in are smart. They listed generic milestones and a cheeky "100%" as the goal with the smiling disclaimer that it will probably never happen.

Re:Any metric can be gamed (5, Interesting)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 2 years ago | (#38380206)

I work for an MSP (Manage Service Provider). We account for time every 15 minutes. Inactive, internal department active, billable active, and non-billable active. All of this logging of time gets calculated out as metrics that define our bonus. So the outcome is pretty much as you've stated. But that's ok, we know how the metric get calculated and thus we game the system of metric without cheating our clients out of money. Naturally, that would be dishonest to do otherwise. But I'll be damned if I sit back and be judged and taken advantage of by some MBA that can't even interoperate the concept of what those numbers are supposed to mean in the first place. They only need to know two things. Is the work billable to the client, and how much. They're free to speak to a manager if they wish to contest the hours performed and/or quality of work. The point is, we want their business. So it serves no point to lose clients for us.

It will get worse I hear. Rumor has it we will be timed every 5 minutes with a USB activity button. Sort of like a Chess timer or some such. Also, our keyboards will be logged for activity and application fields will track mouse moment and other activity. It's absolutely nuts. At this rate, they'll need to hire me a secratary just to do the logging for me while I focus on actual work. Hey, now that's cost effective right? I bet they didn't think of that, did they. Doh!

Re:Any metric can be gamed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38379366)

Do you have any matches?

You get what you reward (5, Insightful)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 2 years ago | (#38379266)

Its not just the losers. Talented and rational technicians and engineers bend to the rules of the system too. Basically you get what you incentivize, what your reward. If you reward people for complying to some metric then they will generally comply. It does not matter what everyone agrees is right, it does matter if management says quality is important. If the metric decides whether you get to keep your job or get that raise then the metric is what the company gets regardless of what the company asks for or whether the company's goals are actually advanced.

Typo: it does *not* matter if management says ... (1)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 2 years ago | (#38379434)

Typo: it does *not* matter if management says quality is important

Re:Any metric can be gamed (5, Insightful)

inviolet (797804) | more than 2 years ago | (#38379474)

Losers realize this simple fact, instantly think of several ways to game the metric, then don't do it figuring that "obviously" the decisionmakers realize the metric is horribly broken. Then they get laid off. Winners spend hours, days, or weeks coming up with one way to game the metric, pat themselves on the back for being so clever, and do it. Then they get promoted, eventually to a position where they come up with metrics of their own.

It's not just IT. Our entire society has converted over to metrics. An easy example comes to mind: the stock market versus a company's quarterly performance. Another set of particularly nasty examples is found in our justice system: police officers evaluated by their number of citations, prosecutors by their number of convictions, prisons by their dollars per inmate per day.

I get the financial impetus to switch to metrics. Where it used to be one skilled manager overseeing per 5-7 employees, it can now be one schmuck manager with an Excel spreadsheet overseeing 30 employees.

I even get the psychological impetus. Numbers give us that all-important feeling of certainty, and at low cost too... while the traditional alternative requires legwork, mindwork, judgment, contemplation, and mistakes.

But it's wrecking our society.

Re:Any metric can be gamed (-1, Troll)

MichaelKristopeit400 (1972448) | more than 2 years ago | (#38379942)

Our entire society has converted over to metrics.

who is "Our"? i have not converted to metrics.

you're an idiot.

Re:Any metric can be gamed (1)

similar_name (1164087) | more than 2 years ago | (#38380220)

When did you become a society?

Re:Any metric can be gamed (0)

MichaelKristopeit400 (1972448) | more than 2 years ago | (#38380364)

when was the election to appoint inviolet (#797804) a speaker of any society that includes me?

you're an idiot.

cower in my shadow some more behind your chosen relativity based pseudonym, feeb.

you're completely pathetic.

Re:Any metric can be gamed (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38380272)

Read what you quoted.

Maybe you have not converted to metrics. Your society has, and it's judging you. Take a look at the writing on the wall...

And this is the writing that was written, MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN.
This is the interpretation of the thing:

  • MENE; Management hath numbered thy job, and finished it.
  • TEKEL; Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting.
  • PERES; Thy job is divided, and given to the Indians and Romanians.

Re:Any metric can be gamed (0)

MichaelKristopeit401 (1976824) | more than 2 years ago | (#38380374)

when was the election to appoint inviolet (#797804) a speaker of any society that includes me?

you're an idiot.

cower in my shadow some more, feeb.

you're completely pathetic.

Re:Any metric can be gamed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38380464)

@ MichaelKristopeit401 - Wow, speaking of completely pathetic! You go girl!

Re:Any metric can be gamed (0)

MichaelKristopeit420 (2018880) | more than 2 years ago | (#38380526)

ur mum's face is of completely pathetic.

cower in my shadow some more, feeb.

you're completely pathetic.

Re:Any metric can be gamed (2)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | more than 2 years ago | (#38380164)

If we were dumb enough to turn it all over to bean counters and business grads, we deserve what we got. Now how do we change it. Because that's the only other alternative to a system you don't like living in. Bitching about it won't get you, me, or anyone else anywhere. Of course we could help the bean counters by living with it and chewing our own tails when it gets to us. Kind of like these kinds of stories and the reactions we see here.

Re:Any metric can be gamed (1)

MichaelKristopeit420 (2018880) | more than 2 years ago | (#38380402)

you change it by exploiting it, which eventually leads to the necessary solution: its complete removal.

people who provide services, and people who require those services, both do not require a 3rd party to connect them or a separate 3rd party to control them.

Re:Any metric can be gamed (2)

unkiereamus (1061340) | more than 2 years ago | (#38380436)

I dunno, I'm a paramedic, and the only metric I've ever been judged by is the number of patients I kill (Still 0!). Note, that's not the same thing as the number of patients I fail to save.

All told, I think that's a pretty fair metric to hold me up to.

My metrics are superior. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38378804)

My metrics are superior. Number of assholes fucked an hour.

Re:My metrics are superior. (5, Interesting)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 2 years ago | (#38379262)

Good. glad to see that some VP did the smart thing for once and cut the middle managers instead of the people who actually get the work done.

Re:My metrics are superior. (4, Insightful)

inviolet (797804) | more than 2 years ago | (#38379508)

Good. glad to see that some VP did the smart thing for once and cut the middle managers instead of the people who actually get the work done.

It is deliciously ironic that you would take a swipe at "middle managers" in this conversation about metrics.

The only way to eliminate middle management, is for upper management to utilize metrics in order to evaluate lower management. There is no time for hands-on management and evaluation with a keen eye in one of these vaunted "flat organizations" with no middle management. And so lower management quickly realizes that their jobs and bonuses depend on the metric, rather than on quality or long-ranged action.

After that, the company is humped... but by then, the "aggressive VP" who wiped out middle management has collected his bonus and moved on.

Re:My metrics are superior. (2)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 2 years ago | (#38379756)

Even King Henry [wikipedia.org] wasn't above actually talking to the common troops now and then:

...the young king's heroic character is shown by his decision to wander around the English camp at night, in disguise, so as to comfort his soldiers and determine what they really think of him...

Who does this? (2)

jhoegl (638955) | more than 2 years ago | (#38378816)

I am going to get a little mean here, but if a company is doing this they are looking to outsource you because they dont understand.
So fuck em and dump em.
Anyone worth their salt will look at downtime, stability, and resolutions before they look at resolution time.

Re:Who does this? (5, Insightful)

wisnoskij (1206448) | more than 2 years ago | (#38378976)

Probably the same people who consider number lines of code written per hour as a good metric to evaluate their employees productivity.

Re:Who does this? (1)

hot soldering iron (800102) | more than 2 years ago | (#38379890)

That's almost asking for a shitload of dead code to be pasted into a routine that just adds two numbers.

The use of metrics to measure peoples performance is usually implemented incorrectly. You want to measure my performance? Okay, I did 1 thing all day. It was rebuilding a $50,000 test stand. Yesterday, I built 3 custom test fixtures for the production line, and worked on maintaining some of my equipment.

The number of events being measured is correct, but what about the value to the company of each event? A dozen people telling customers to reboot their computers are worthless to the company compared to the guy who spent 2 weeks staring at a whiteboard, but developed a new piece of software that gives them a bitchin' edge in the market.

Re:Who does this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38380306)

That's almost asking for a shitload of dead code to be pasted into a routine that just adds two numbers.

Almost?! The only case where it's not exactly asking for this is if your codebase has no additions.

Obligatory folklore [folklore.org]

Re:Who does this? (3, Interesting)

thegarbz (1787294) | more than 2 years ago | (#38380566)

Anyone worth their salt will look at downtime, stability, and resolutions before they look at resolution time.

Ahh so number of resolutions are better than resolution time are they?

My recent experience with our IT call centre at work (Company is top 10 in the Fortune 500) I needed access to a shared drive. We've been asked to email the call center with specific detailed requests if we know what the exact problem is to save the phone support for problem identification sessions.

Anyway my email went along the lines of: "I have recently for some unknown reason lost access to network share with no explanation. Access to the drive is necessary for "

I got not 1 but 3 replies from the service centre:
Email 1 (autogenerated): Your Incident INC xxxxxxx1 has been raised for access to a network share.
Email 2 (typed): Dear User, Requests for access to network shares need to go through .
Email 3 (autogenerated): Your Incident INC xxxxxxx1 has been closed with successful resolution.

Errr no it hasn't. They generated a case number and closed it successfully but I still have no access to the network folder. Anyway off I go to the other system and request access through it. I get 3 emails again:

Email 1 (autogenerated): Your request has been received and has been forwarded to the service centre.
Wait for real? The same schmucks who I just requested this through and been sent away get the request?
Email 2 (autogenerated): Incident INC xxxxxxx2 has been raised for access to a network share.
Email 3 (autogenerated): Incident INC xxxxxxx2 has been closed with successful resolution, please wait up to 1 hour for permissions to propagate.

Well there you go two incidents were raised and closed, and in neither case was the end user asked if it actually worked. I wonder what happens if they gave me read only access instead of read-write as per my original email, given that the system we were supposed to use didn't specify. I guess that would raised a 3rd case.

Dilbert Minivan (5, Funny)

tedgyz (515156) | more than 2 years ago | (#38378818)

This problem was aptly portrayed in the classic dilbert comic strip in 1995.

I'm going to code myself a minivan. [dilbert.com]

Re:Dilbert Minivan (1)

failedlogic (627314) | more than 2 years ago | (#38379752)

You have an amazing memory. You've managed to remember every single Dilbert comic strip since 1995 (or beyond). You then picked the one most relevant to this article. You should be the one getting the mini-van!

ain't pretty. (5, Insightful)

Caerdwyn (829058) | more than 2 years ago | (#38378842)

Such metrisc also disincentivize people taking proactive steps to reduce the number of incoming tickets (i.e. making the system/environment more robust or your users more educated), and disincentivizes managers for so doing by reducing the number of people needed to service incoming tickets (thus reducing the size of the empire and the pay grade of the manager).

I've seen both "disincentives" in action. It ain't pretty.

Re:ain't pretty. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38379390)

No, it is not!
Where I work (not IT), things had started to go a bit better these past couple of months, so when a few of the "bad apples" were let go the managers just decided they didn't need to replace them. Thing is, everyone else was picking up the slack for those guys, so now we're left overworked on a regular basis. Not to mention that, given the nature of our business, this is the busiest time of year. I suspect there will be much debate over our "productivity" when the updated numbers come in.

Re:ain't pretty. (2)

Muros (1167213) | more than 2 years ago | (#38379462)

Such metrisc also disincentivize people taking proactive steps to reduce the number of incoming tickets (i.e. making the system/environment more robust or your users more educated)

Tell me about it. The job I'm in is support/maintenance/administration/installation etc. for companies too small to have their own IT depts. I'm constantly saying "we should do this because it will prevent xxxxx in 6-12 months time". I'm sometimes listened to. "Has the customer logged a problem? No? Well we're flat out, there are more important things that need to be done". Usually true, but if we always did the things I recommend we'd have far fewer sudden customer crises demanding immediate attention. Of course, instant attention for a problem gains brownie points with customers that invisible background work doesn't, but systems running smoothly costs less in the long term and customers do sometimes say things like "well, we never had any problems when xxx were running things".
On the metrics thing, yeah its bullshit. We recently got in a new CRM package with all types of nice metrics reporting built into it. I'm sure they're all very good, but me having 2-3 tasks assigned to me at a time instead of 20 really doesn't help, particularly when some of those are jobs that involve 8 hours of looking in every 30 minutes for 10 seconds. And it doesn't take into account the bosses completely ignoring their fancy new system and dropping down to my corner of the dungeon and asking me to look at something for whatever customer is chewing their ear off. Or the fact that I spend 40% or more of my day giving advice to my fellow techies. I suppose at least I can find consolation in the fact that 1 of the 3 guys running the show is a former programmer and veteran support person, and knows that if there is a problem, you talk to me.

The problem with metrics is (2)

cmv1087 (2426970) | more than 2 years ago | (#38378872)

that it always sounds like a good idea when you're thinking of implementing it and few people go beyond the "this sounds like a good idea" phase to the "how can I game the metric I just thought up?" phase.

Dunningâ"Kruger effect (4, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | more than 2 years ago | (#38379070)

The problem with metrics is that it always sounds like a good idea when you're thinking of implementing it and few people go beyond the "this sounds like a good idea" phase to the "how can I game the metric I just thought up?" phase.

That's an example of the Dunning-Kruger effect.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning%E2%80%93Kruger_effect [wikipedia.org]
Anyone can design a metric that they themselves cannot figure out how to game.

Re:Dunningâ"Kruger effect (2)

MurukeshM (1901690) | more than 2 years ago | (#38380136)

I think you are referring to a corollary, Schneier's law [schneier.com] :

Anyone can invent a security system that he himself cannot break.

This makes me sad (5, Interesting)

multiben (1916126) | more than 2 years ago | (#38378894)

Metrics are great for some things. For making sure that your employees are working they are terrible. I used to work in a metric free environment and there was a great team atmosphere. Then metrics came along and it all went to hell. Now everyone is so focussed on making their numbers look good that the whole organisation is suffering from a weird sense of internal competitiveness. People no longer collaborate on difficult problems because there is no measure within the metrics system to reflect that this occurred. People who used to be innovative are no longer so, because they are not rewarded for spending time innovating. It has achieved nothing good that I can see.

Re:This makes me sad (4, Informative)

Trepidity (597) | more than 2 years ago | (#38379098)

Sounds like academia, actually. It's all about impact factor, citation count, and grant dollars these days...

Re:This makes me sad (4, Interesting)

bunratty (545641) | more than 2 years ago | (#38379374)

I once worked at a company that used exactly one metric for determining employees' bonuses -- company profit. That got everyone to work together to generate more revenue and cut costs. The first year it was in place, everyone in the company got a 25% annual bonus. The downside was that the next year the economy went sour and no one got a bonus.

Re:This makes me sad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38379834)

Was it a hedge fund in 2006?

Re:This makes me sad (4, Funny)

Fned (43219) | more than 2 years ago | (#38379882)

Of course it wasn't. If it had been a hedge fund in 2006, they'd have all still gotten bonuses.

Re:This makes me sad (3, Interesting)

Trepidity (597) | more than 2 years ago | (#38379874)

I have no large-scale study, but my anecdotal information on those kinds of schemes is that they can have the opposite problem in large companies: rather than promoting uncooperative individual greed, they instead promote a sort of feeling that, "well, as one peon I can't possibly move the needle on this gigantic corporation". People then get demotivated when their bonus depends on things totally divorced from what they actually do, e.g. you do a great job in IT this year, but your bonus goes down because you work for an oil company and the price of oil went down, something you don't have any control over even remotely.

How would getting your friends to call in help? (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 2 years ago | (#38378936)

Unless you are the only support person, then your friends have as much chance of getting you as anybody else, and your friends would only be helping other peoples' metrics and not yours. In fact, if everybody on the tech team isn't doing this, you would probably be harming yourself more than helping, since fewer of your friends' calls getting to you means more of the calls that aren't from your friends getting to you.

Re:How would getting your friends to call in help? (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 2 years ago | (#38379072)

As long as you and your coworkers have enough work to keep you busy, your boss won't play Russian Roulette with the team. So increasing everyone's numbers helps.

Re:How would getting your friends to call in help? (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 2 years ago | (#38379230)

Only if the boss isn't looking at individual metrics to determine who to fire. If one person's metrics are substantially lower than everybody else's, then that person can and usually will be let go.

If all your coworkers are doing this, and you are on a team of more than 3 people, then you will actually be benefitting yourself the most if you *DON'T* do this, because since the tickets are usually assigned randomly, if you don't try to game the system, then you lower the chance for everybody else getting an easy ticket relative to what they would if you were to play along with their system, while you simultaneously get the occasional easy ticket with no extra effort. The result will be, in general, that your numbers are better than those of your coworkers who may have previously depending on a certain number of easy tickets per day to keep their numbers up.

Re:How would getting your friends to call in help? (1)

bryan1945 (301828) | more than 2 years ago | (#38379144)

If it's not your friend, you hang up, wait a minute, then call back.

I'm currently reading TFA... (4, Informative)

stephencrane (771345) | more than 2 years ago | (#38378958)

..but I'm not so keen on /.'s article description here. "...the use of incidents resolved per analyst per week as a metric for assessing help-desk performance..." Having worked in this area for decades, I can tell you that I can't think of a single IT support org that uses this as a metric. It's a straw horse, of which there are many when it comes to metrics. The three most common metrics are: Cost per incident Customer Satisfaction Resolution on First Contact (sometimes FC is defined as 'resolved at/within tier 1, even if it means') There are usually two more, but those tend to vary on your business and priorities, if you have SLAs/OLAs, and what service channels you offer. Average speed of answer/Time to Respond to Client is usually next. Average Time to Resolution sometimes. People sometimes care about Abandon Rate, but only within the context of the customer satisfaction metric. A nice place may poll for employee satisfaction. A nicer place does it more than 1-2/year. I've never even seen 'resolved/analyst/week' come up in discussions, forums or books going back to the early 90s. And seriously - NOBODY running anything but a penny ante 100 call/week call center would ever try to regularly cook the stats by having friends and family calling in to boost the customer contacts. It's too much work for too little bang, and it's too easily caught. Any place with a real ACD system, eventually, will notice that a not-insignificant number of calls/emails are coming from the same 10 addresses/numbers. It's just not worth it. The description implies the exact opposite. If you don't have a real ACD system and a real incident-management/ticket-tracking software, you're not really measuring anything anyway and you're probably working at a place that's not complicated enough to care about metrics in the first place.

Re:I'm currently reading TFA... (4, Insightful)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 2 years ago | (#38379344)

Yeah, I used to work tech support for what was then the largest Mac products reseller in the US, and that's the kind of metric they used (just calls per hour, not even resolved issues).

There was one tech so bad that people would just hang up and call back. When asked about my long call times, I showed them a dozen calls from the logs where they talked to 'Hank' for 5 minutes, got back in the queue, and then talked to me for 20-50 minutes (the source phone # was in the logs with destinations and timestamps). I never left a customer with an unresolved problem, but that's not what was being measured.

They did understand that the real waste of money was the guy who had 'great' call times, but they also had no way to measure our actual performance, so they used the reports they did have as proxies.

Re:I'm currently reading TFA... (4, Informative)

crath (80215) | more than 2 years ago | (#38379400)

I can tell you that I can't think of a single IT support org that uses this as a metric

Some years ago, I had a help desk in my organisation that did use this metric as part of how its analysts kept tabs on their performance. It was one metric in an overall package, and the whole team (all the analysts) reviewed the package every week. As I recall, other metrics in the package included Customer Satisfaction, Average Call Length, Number of Calls Back to Users per Agent, Incidents Resovled on First Contact, Incidents Escalated to Second Level, and others.

The help desk team very successfully used the overall metrics package as part analyst self motivation and peer motivation (as well as management oversight). Bob Lewis's piece is provocative journalism: devoid of concrete detail and full of high level innuendo. It doesn't contain sufficent detail (say, by way of actual detailed examples) to allow a typical reader to apply the thoughts he has expressed.

Re:I'm currently reading TFA... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38380234)

I just tell my peers to FSCK themselves and leave me alone to solve customer problems. So what if I need to take a 15 minute web surfing break while researching a complex problem and its resolution for a scheduled callback? Stop being a prick and mind your own business. Every ticket I handle is resolved within 2 customer contacts and usually in a single contact but I am diligent and tend to follow-up afterwards to ensure no other problems have surfaced. The fancy pants MBAs can play with their spreadsheets and still never do any actual work to earn the company any revenue.

Re:I'm currently reading TFA... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38380170)

My goodness you we must work for the same company. I ignore every metric except "was the problem resolved and is the client happy."

best buy and the other office supplies stores tech (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#38378982)

have sales metrics and even the tech side has a big pull to sell stuff even when people don't need it and the extended warranty and accidental damage warranty are even lied about what they cover to push more sales.

Metrics are only fair for homogeneous work (4, Insightful)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#38378998)

Metrics work if you are comparing two workers on an assembly line doing the exact same work - you can compare their widgets built-per-hour rate (offset by any QA problems).

But when you're dealing with a helpdesk team, the work is no longer homogeneous. The more senior helpdesk person usually gets the hard problems... and he spends more time mentoring his peers (at least he'll do that in a well run team). But tell him that his time-to-resolve metric will determine his bonus and suddenly he'll focus on solving tickets as quickly as possible and instead of volunteering to track down that intermittent printing problem reported by the finance team, he'll leave that for his cohorts and instead will jump on the fast easy tickets.

Re:Metrics are only fair for homogeneous work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38379368)

I'd rather have a resolves-per-week metric and then investigate why it varies than have no metric.

The problem is when you assume the metric means something it doesn't.

Re:Metrics are only fair for homogeneous work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38379748)

I disagree, in this way. Metrics can be used to find a sweet spot. Metrics do not have to be...'be the best in this category'. They can be 'here is a range that we have found to be both productive and satisfactory to the customer for this combination'. This gives the producer the 'range' to both satisfy the customer, and do proper problem solving.

Re:Metrics are only fair for homogeneous work (2)

frank_adrian314159 (469671) | more than 2 years ago | (#38380382)

The more senior helpdesk person usually gets the hard problems...

But they probably get paid more, too! So if I lay him off, my costs go down and my average number of calls finished per hour go up (because people get tired of trying to talk with idiots) and I get promoted and I win!!!

That's what they call management, my friends!

"That which gets measured gets fudged." (5, Informative)

bfwebster (90513) | more than 2 years ago | (#38379004)

The quote above is from Jerry Weinberg, and it is true.

There's an entire brilliant, short book about this problem: Measuring and Managing Performance in Organizations [amazon.com] by Robert Austin (1996). It's actually a fairly rigorous, somewhat philosophical work, but it is pretty unrelenting to documenting that, indeed, trying to manage by metrics almost always introduces distortions, which in turn are almost always counter-productive. The problem isn't just with IT, it's with any type of effort that seeks to reward or punish based on metrics.

The only metrics that I've found actually useful in IT are those that are predictive -- for example, aiding to estimate the actual delivery date of a project under development. The metrics that seek to somehow measure "accomplishments to date" solely for the purpose of reward or punishment are always gamed and are almost always useless. ..bruce..

Re:"That which gets measured gets fudged." (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38379522)

Actually, I'd recommend something outside the business field. Someone's going to cry BASTARD LIBERAL ARTS MAJOR on this, but what about Foucault's Surveiller et punir: he traces the development of the modern concept of uniform regimentation -- and the assessment process that accompanies it -- in the prisons and schools that shape or re-shape populations since the nineteenth century. I'm not sure he gets it quite right, since he focuses on France and tries hard to pretend that Prussia doesn't exist, and the Prussians were really the ones who pushed "objective" assessments into fields that were a bad fit for numerical metrics and regimentation. There are fields that are good fits for Prussian assessment: unthinking factory line workers (the kind best replaced by robots), prisons, and the cannon-fodder parts of armies have benefitted enormously from basing rewards and punishment on metrics.

even non tech call centers suffer from this (2)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#38379028)

even non tech call centers suffer from this and then that's way so many times you get people who don't care are fast to get you off of the phone.

unions in other jobs poor metrics can do worse (2)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#38379348)

unions in other jobs poor metrics can do have done worse and unions are big help to fix bad metrics.

I saw a old post hear or it was linked I think it was about about a glass factory where one one shift was doing more units then the other but the quality was slipping and management was pushing the other shits to do more. So the union pushed the one shift to slow down. In the end they did slow down and quality when up. There is more to it but I don't remember the full post.

Also I think there was this fork lift job where people where by pass safety locks to hit metrics.

Now maybe a IT union can you know step in to talk back about poor metrics to they can do a better job and not just do whats needed to hit numbers.

Re:unions in other jobs poor metrics can do worse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38379478)

One time on Slashdot there was a commenter who bypassed spelling and grammar when posting his comment.

Re:unions in other jobs poor metrics can do worse (1)

Randle_Revar (229304) | more than 2 years ago | (#38379848)

>unions in other jobs poor metrics can do have done worse and unions are big help to fix bad metrics.

Really?

Re:unions in other jobs poor metrics can do worse (1)

grcumb (781340) | more than 2 years ago | (#38380294)

>unions in other jobs poor metrics can do have done worse and unions are big help to fix bad metrics.

Really?

Just wait for his newsletter. All will be explained. You'll find it fascinating.

cheating and clueless works, in a way? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38379426)

my facebook elite has 2300 regular callers... we look after each other?

what does IT mean again?

anyone else want to migrate to india? cheap living... doing stuff matters,... etc.

Fix the symptom and not the problem (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | more than 2 years ago | (#38379446)

I used to work at a cell phone call centre and many times I got calls from people who have had the same billing issue month after month. The previous call takers had credited the bill for the amount charged but never fixed the reason for the charge. They fixed the symptom rather than the problem. Sometimes it took half an hour to fix the issue instead of the five minutes to issue the credit. My call times went up where their call times stayed low. When they moved me up to Tier two I also got many issues transferred from tier 1 that they could handle but would take time. Luckily tier two was expected to have longer calls.

If someone can call in month after month and there is no link between similar issues then metrics will be way off.

There is one thing I have always thought. If a user has a large number of tickets for simple things maybe they need more training on the systems they use.

QA isn't much different (2)

nprz (1210658) | more than 2 years ago | (#38379454)

QA at our company would be rated better or worse by the number of bugs we filed that got fixed. So it made more sense to focus on small issues (e.g. typo in some text) than bigger issues (e.g. data corruption in a stress environment).
I could file 5-10 easy bugs that get fixed in a day, while someone else suffers trying to explain how to reproduce the data corruption issue.

This wasn't the absolute deciding factor keeping your job, but it had quite some weight to it.
I also wrote the report that the managers used to read this data, but before that I wonder what factors they used to judge performance.

Stupid measures and Schrodinger management (3, Interesting)

dbIII (701233) | more than 2 years ago | (#38379456)

It's not just a problem in IT. It's a problem anywhere that managers are out of their depth. When they are very badly out of their depth poor attempts to observe what is going on can have very bad effects on an operation.
Some years ago I worked for few months at a steelworks, and it was managed as badly as the most rabid Libertarians imagine that the worst of government is run. Management never saw the operation or the city it was in. They just saw numbers, and the most important number graphed on noticeboards everywhere around the plant was "tonnes of steel per man hour".
Now the hours were only counted for permanant employees, so contractors were shuffled in and out by the thousands to skew that number. Since they were not employees and were theoretically off the books there was no training for those that came in from outside of the industry, which of course given the number of people involved and the nature of the workplace resulted in some very serious accidents with multiple deaths. Quality suffered from untrained staff and a desire to increase the tonnage above all else. Revenue went down becuase a lot of material had to be sold as a lower grade of steel, in addition to increased amounts of scrap which still counted in that magical number even though it had to be remelted. Nobody on site had the authority to make any major changes and any reports beyond the interesting numbers were ignored.
It went from being a profitable operation to almost completely shut down within two years - of over 16,000 employees only 300 remained to operate a small rod rolling mill that could get steel shipped in from elsewhere. The losses exposed the company to a takeover bid and they are now owned by Swiss Bankers that have some odd remote control management quirks of their own (which has created a billionaire that picked up one of their discared operations for just about nothing).

Performance metrics are just a simple model and you have to make sure that model actually fits the situation. Trying to change reality to fit an inappropriate model can result in the opposite to what is intended.

Attention Fellow Men (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38379460)

Would you consider dressing up in drag to get free drinks on Ladies' Nite? I think it's a good idea. What do you think? Good idea, right?

Re:Attention Fellow Men (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38379492)

how about, sick of the bullshit (excuse my french), come at your own risk... nite.

Word you might be looking for is activism or at least in that direction. With taxes they way they are, it doesn't work.

Teachers and everyone else have them (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 2 years ago | (#38379480)

Employees hate them but you have to show you are providing value and to CYA so the employer can make a case to fire you. Otherwise you can claim racism.

Every help desk or desktop support position I have worked on looked at metric. You had to show you could do 9 hours of work in 8 hours or you are fired. My exwife was a teacher and she got fired because she couldn't raise test scores enough. Accountants are measured in how much money they are saved. CEOs are measured in how much they raise their share price for Wall Street etc.

THis is life folks and I would bow to anyone who does not have to work in these conditions as I never have. Everyone and I mean everyone uses them to force more output and to avoid lawsuits. We hate it but it makes sense and helps drive the share price up for your employer.

I am thinking of leaving IT for these reasons sadly, but I figure if I do marketing research then my job is dependent on how much more sales my boss can make year after year

Help Desk and metrics (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38379570)

This is so very true. I've seen metrics being brought into service desk meeting for way too long. As the OP it really does more wrong than any good IMO. From experience, employee moral falls, Help desk techinicans feel helpless or feel like they aren't doing a good job, Co-workers start fighting or arguing amongst each other, Which in turn causes poor customer satifaction, as the help feels the need to rush in order to meet the goal of the metrics that they are being judged on. I myself feel that metrics do not tell the whole story, only what is on paper.

The Human Element (4, Interesting)

snero3 (610114) | more than 2 years ago | (#38379604)

Stats by themselves will only ever be an indicator what is happening. You really need managers on the ground that are trust worthy to give you feed back on how things are actually going.

Taking humans out of the loop when rating other humans is always a mistake

But what's the answer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38379732)

This article says that our current metrics are wrong, but what are the right metrics and how do we gather them?

Re:But what's the answer? (1)

stephencrane (771345) | more than 2 years ago | (#38380096)

Customer Satisfaction. Employee Satisfaction. Average Time to Resolve Incident. Average Cost per Incident. I like these, assuming they're not fudged. If you're running a more ITIL-ized shop, you will also care about the relationship between incidents and Average Time to Close Problems ('problems', in this sense, being those environmental factors that are the ultimate cause of recurring incidents).

Re:But what's the answer? (2)

Xeno man (1614779) | more than 2 years ago | (#38380460)

It didn't say that our metrics are wrong but warns that not understanding them is very dangerous. You need to understand the value of what you're measuring and what your goals are.

Lets take the metric of issues resolved for an IT department.

Agent 1 - Issue 1 - Faulty keys on keyboard, Replaced keyboard - Resolved
Issue 2 - Faulty monitor, reconnected loose cable - Resolved
Issue 3 - User locked out of account, restored account - Resolved

Agent 2 - Inventory database inaccessible, troubleshoot servers, network connections, software, data corrupted, restored data from backup - Resolved

By using the metric of per issue you have granted equal value to any and all issues so even though agent 2 is working on something much more important and would take much longer to fix, by the metrics defined, agent 1 has done 3 times the work than agent 2. Now if you base your rewards on this faulty metric, agent 1 receives a bonus and agent 2 gets laid off despite the face that agent 1 couldn't do what agent 2 did.

You also need to understand what goal you are trying to accomplish. If your only goal is to increase issues resolved than you can make that number go up, but people will find the fastest and easiest way to do so. On the surface that sounds great but in reality everything else suffers because you have declared that not important. Costs go way up because parts are replaced instead of being fixed. Productivity goes down because problems get bandages and declared resolved when everyone knows the problem will reoccur again and again. Great for IT because they get a ton more easy resolved issues but sucks for everyone that is trying to use those resources.

Help Desk (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38379736)

This is so very true. I've seen metrics being brought into service desk meeting for way too long. As the OP it really does more wrong than any good IMO. From experience, employee moral falls, technicians feel that if they don't meet the metrics their job could be in jepordy,which in turn causes a poor customer experience, as the tech feels the need to rush in order to meet the goal of the metrics that they are being judged on. I myself feel that metrics do not tell the whole story, only what is on paper.I think it would be better to focus the attention on the techs more so than the metrics. Help guide the techs, teach them, help them learn more and I believe it would make for a more efficient service desk enviroment.

Help Desk (1)

nismo976 (2531966) | more than 2 years ago | (#38379766)

This is so very true. I've seen metrics being brought into service desk meeting for way too long. As the OP it really does more wrong than any good IMO. From experience, employee moral falls, technicians feel that if they don't meet the metrics their job could be in jepordy,which in turn causes a poor customer experience, as the tech feels the need to rush in order to meet the goal of the metrics that they are being judged on. I myself feel that metrics do not tell the whole story, only what is on paper.I think it would be better to focus the attention on the techs more so than the metrics. Help guide the techs, teach them, help them learn more and I believe it would make for a more efficient service desk enviroment.

Re:Help Desk (2)

stephencrane (771345) | more than 2 years ago | (#38380074)

What, are you getting paid by the post? :-)

Re:Help Desk (1)

ILongForDarkness (1134931) | more than 2 years ago | (#38380286)

My last IT shop job what we did is have weekly meetings. Anything older than a couple days was brought up and the group discussed it to see if someone else needed to take it on or what had to happen. Other than that the only thing that affected you as in individual was your project preformance. We all had a day a week were we had no operational responsiblities. During that day we worked on projects (and of course if we had spare time we could work on them on other days). Regardless we owned the project, the project was directly related to what we were supposed to be able to do (for example I did clustering and wireless security overhaul since I have done HPC before and was the net admin). Everything else was: is the customer happy? If so it doesn't matter how long it takes to solve the problem just let them know within a couple hours that you got their request and what you need from them, and for long term things (new servers, can you develop this etc) every few days what you are doing and that is good enough.

"cards closed per week" (2)

BrianRoach (614397) | more than 2 years ago | (#38380038)

I worked as an engineer at a company the professed to be "agile" (the quotes are because really, not so much). They started judging performance by "cards closed per week".

You'd be amazed at the number of cards that will be created and closed under those conditions. Our productivity *soared* (according the graph that showed productivity as a measurement of cards closed per week ... ).

this reminds me of a blog post (3, Insightful)

ILongForDarkness (1134931) | more than 2 years ago | (#38380262)

on Raymond Chen's site (The old new thing) a sporting goods store wanted to increase the upsales of "shoe protecting" sprays. They offered the staff a kickback since they had a ridiculously high margin on the spray (like 80%). Anyways the sales people were allowed to use discounts at their discrecion and the store had coupons frequntly. So ... smart employees gave away the spray and used coupons or "discounts" to make up the difference so they'd get the kick back. In general any behavior you offer a reward for that isn't exactly what you want as a company will result in you getting what you are incentivizing regardless of whether or not you get what you want out of the deal. The only solution: tie the reward directly to what you want, eg. if you want more profit for the company than give profit sharing. You still have to work hard to remove disincentives, ie crappy employees that make the goal unachievable and so make even your good employees just take it easy since there is no reason to put in the extra effort, but at least you make your employees incentives tied to your organization wide goals.

This will not happen in public-sector IT (1, Interesting)

ub3r n3u7r4l1st (1388939) | more than 2 years ago | (#38380370)

because there are no metrics used.

invalid assumption? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38380378)

In the past 15 years I've worked on three help desks and managed another, and never did I hear even a suggestion that agents were pumping their stats by getting friends to call in. While we're making wild generalization, let me throw a few out that make this seem absurd:

1) 3 of the 4 desks I worked on were far too understaffed for anyone to ask for more calls than we were already getting. And this never seemed to be an unusual situation based on talking to other company's desks.

2) Most nerds on the help desk don't have the social skills or interest required to befriend people who would call the help desk even if they needed help, let alone if they didn't. Nerds are friends with nerds, not the dummies who pick up the phone when they can't find the "any key".

On a more serious note, the desk I'm on now recently dropped counting call resolution as a graded stat. They said it was because they wanted us to focus more on customer service, but I think the real reason is that the outsourced staff in India they replaced 2/3 of our desk with couldn't make the numbers. This kind of pissed me off since I usually had the highest resolution rate. Regardless, the system is still gamed. I can't tell you how many times I've talked to someone who previously called the desk and spoke to an offshore agent but never got an incident #. When I research it, no ticket was opened, and only the vaguest promise of a later callback was given. If the agent can't solve the problem, they don't log a ticket so no survey is generated and viola, no poor customer reviews!

Like most things in life, when it comes to customer service, you get what you pay for.

There is no such thing as bad statistics (5, Interesting)

msobkow (48369) | more than 2 years ago | (#38380434)

Be warned: my example is way off topic, but a pet statistic I keep track of.

There is no such things as bad statistics, only bad layman statisticians who don't understand what the numbers actually measure.

Take lines of code, for example. Some people hate it because you can bloat the numbers by adding comments, neglecting to consider how useful those comments are for future maintenance, and thereby a useful application of a developer's time. If you use a consistent formatting style for two projects, you can get a fair grasp of their complexity from the line count, though that will gloss over details about how the code actually works.

The most interesting pattern I've notice in line counts over the years is that the use of templates and other code abstraction facilities really hasn't decreased the size of code much at all, though it's improved readability, maintainability, and programmer API usability substantially. So line counts only give you an approximation of complexity with a language like Java, but do nothing to measure the quality of the code.

One other thing I've found is that complex code looks fat and heavy from it's sheer size, but often compiles to very reasonable executable size and runs rings around supposedly "tight" code that makes heavy use of dynamic techniques like introspection. As only one image of an executable is loaded by a reasonably competent OS, a fat binary does not mean a fat application at runtime.

Big code is only scary if it's not following recognizable patterns and is instead a mishmash of different developer's pet syntax, algorithms, style conventions, naming conventions, and even preferred APIs. If you manufacture it predictably, fat source code becomes a joy to maintain, enhance, and use.

But back to the core topic: help desk performance.

The only help desk stat I care about is a low number on customer complaint reports about the quality of information and assistance provided by the tech team. If it's my company and my budget, I'd rather hire more technicians to handle the load and produce happy customers in the end than I would saving money by overworking and burning them out by even thinking about useless numbers like "calls handled per week."

In the end, if you care about your business, the only thing that truly matters are happy customers who want more services or products in the future, and who will gladly tell others about their good experiences in dealing with you.

There is no substitute for a good word-of-mouth reputation and repeat business. No one ever got fired for buying IBM not because they're perfect, but because their people will go the extra mile to make things work.

Technocracy breeds metrics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38380574)

I've read that Donald Rumsfeld, a Princeton policy wonk from way back, had a passion for measurement: tallies of minutes per project, per manager, troop deployment cost analyses and the like. If it's worth knowing, it's worth measuring and managing.

Not recognizing, of course, that you get more of what you measure. Beyond people gaming the system, the projections of cost analysis almost always fail to capture significant long-term externalities and unintended consequences.

 

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