I coordinate a small team that is responsible for (among other things) a software-based IT helpdesk solution. I'm looking to introduce a fun rolling award for the "helpdesk champion" of the past 30 days that in some way is linked to each person's performance in completing jobs via the helpdesk (as an incentive to engage with it etc.)

The helpdesk software allows me to get data on the following for each person:

  • Number of jobs completed
  • Average number of days required to complete jobs
  • Average length of solution

I figure this allows me to potentially figure out some measure of quantity, timeliness and thoroughness of their work. Any suggestions about how I might be able to work this into an algorithm/weight this data somehow?

Here is a set of sample data from my system: sample data

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    This probably belongs more on programmers/stackoverflow. But in any case, you'll want to be careful with any sort of automatic performance metric; if people can game the system (for instance by quickly completing a lot of minor/trivial tasks), they will. – aroth May 13 '14 at 7:19
  • +1 to @aroth - if you do go down the route of an automatic style selection, keep this algorithm to yourself. If your employees know the algorithm they could use it to game the system. Don't let them know they're being selected by an automated process. – Dan Hanly May 13 '14 at 7:21
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    Hey Tom, and welcome to The Workplace. I've put your question on hold because it really isn't on-topic for our site. It reminds me of a question on SO last year that caused much discussion there. Unfortunately, this doesn't seem to be a good fit for the SE network at the moment. If you can find a way to make this on topic according to the guidelines in our help center, for instance focusing on dealing with employees who game their KPIs (Key Performance Indicators), please edit away. Thanks in advance! – jmac May 13 '14 at 8:44
  • @DanHanly if they don't know the algorithm then just make it random. The goal of rewarding great performance is to let the team know that if you do x,y,z that is good. If they have no way of understanding why somebody got the award they won't know which behaviors are being rewarded. – mhoran_psprep May 13 '14 at 11:58
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    Our help desk uses such metrics which is why they close tickets as being completed when they are not. They won't reopen them either as that would make them look bad in the metrics, so you have to create a new ticket. A good boss knows who is doing well without automated metric statistics. Get out and talk to the users and to the employees instead. – HLGEM May 13 '14 at 13:14

What you will end up with are;

  1. Users creating a lot of small trivial tasks
  2. Users refusing to do complex tasks
  3. Users refusing to handle tasks from "difficult" clients
  4. Tasks being closed incorrectly, or too soon

If the system can be abused, it will. At one place I used to work in a system such as this was used to determine who would get a contract. If the score was too low, they would loose the support contract next year. As you can imagine, the abuse of the system was rampant. The biggest issue was the support staff giving a quick almost automated reply within a couple of minutes and then closing the ticket. Since that rarely solved the issue I had to create a new ticket. This was then repeated until I gave up and solved the issue through google myself. But from a measuring perspective it was a huge success 5-10 tickets, all solved within an hour.

If you do this, at least add a large negative point for support tickets being reopened, due to not being solved correctly.

But you really want to do measure performance somehow, which I think is a good idea, measure what really matters. Customer satisfaction. If the customer isn't happy, then it doesn't matter if they solve hundreds of support tickets each day. Just have the customers fill out a quick customer satisfaction survey afterwards and measure the response. Make sure it takes them 20 - 40 sec to fill out to make sure they feel they have time for it.

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  • Yes, measuring customer satisfaction is probably the best solution. Note that even this may not yield comparable numbers: E.g. if different people handle tickets from different customer groups or different domains, the answering behaviour may differ, or there may be more unresolvable problems in one domain etc.... So I'd still be very careful with comparing. – sleske May 13 '14 at 7:47
  • Thanks very much Fredrik, great advice. I'm resolved to focus on Customer Satisfaction as a measure now instead. – Tom May 14 '14 at 5:38

An IT helpdesk isn't an assembly line. You can not rate the value of a helpdesk employee solely by how many jobs they complete, because every job is different. There are small-impact and large-impact problems and there are problems which are easy or hard to solve.

To give you an example: Employee A spends the day resetting 50 passwords the users couldn't remember. Employee B spends the whole day getting a crashed production system with 1000 users to work again. Who was more valuable today?

According to your metric, A completed 50 jobs, but B only completed one, so A is 50 times as valuable as B. But actually A fixed the problems of 50 users while B helped 1000. So who is really todays hero?

When you truly want to measure performance, you need to measure the actual business impact of the work of your employees. Rate each job by complexity and priority and use this as a multiplier for the score.

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  • Thanks for your suggestion Philipp, helps me see that I need to tread carefully with this and really think about the impact. – Tom May 14 '14 at 5:39

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