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I wonder if there is a method how to measure IT (internal) service/department work effort. For example, company has about 30 virtual servers, 2 LAN networks, 3 VPN networks (hundreds of users), different projects etc. Managament is denying to hire another staff member but according to my experience is definitely needed. To convince them I need to show some numbers but how to measure it, any advice would be helpful.

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  • Do you have a ticketing system in place to request IT support or is it more informal? Jan 3, 2022 at 19:47
  • we have but it does not cover the whole department activity, for example we have some projects for which there were no tickets neither time measures, (recording everything would be time-consuming and we already does not have enough resources)
    – pMM
    Jan 4, 2022 at 12:01

2 Answers 2

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If you don't have any measurements or metrics right now, I'd start with a few simple ones: work queue size, number of items in progress (WIP), work item age, lead time, cycle time, and throughput:

  • Work queue size is how much known work do you have right now, at a given point in time. Track this on a regular cadence, such as weekly or monthly. Depending on the nature of the work, you may want to keep track of items added, items removed, and items completed since the last recording. I'd only recommend keeping track of work accepted by the team and exclude prospective work.
  • Work in progess is how much work has been started. If you have a workflow, you may want to know how much work is in different states. You can also collect this information on a regular cadence and see if work builds up at certain points over time, especially in a given state.
  • Work item age is for any in-progress items and tells you how long the work has been in progress for. This can be measured in hours or days, depending on how long it typically takes you to finish work.
  • Lead and cycle time tell you about how long it takes to deliver. Lead time is the time from when a piece of work is accepted by the team to the time it is delivered. Cycle time starts when the work is started and ends when the work is delivered.
  • Throughput is how many work items are completed per unit of time - weekly, monthly, per iteration in agile methods.

What you can do with these measures depends on the nature of the work.

If the work tends to be individual in nature, then once a new hire is trained, you can see an increase in work-in-progress and throughput. However, if the work is team-based, you may not be able to increase throughput and reduce cycle time by reducing work-in-progress and instead mapping your value stream and reducing waste (such as delays).

It may be a good idea to cluster work into a handful of categories, such as user support, ongoing maintenance, and new development efforts to get an idea of these metrics for different types of work. If you do get a new person, it may also help you figure out where you need help by showing what type of work can benefit from more people. I'd also recommend a value stream map to show opportunities for improvement, such as parallelization of tasks or collaborative work.

One other thing to consider, though, would be that the lead time, cycle time, and throughput for work is acceptable to management. That is, they may be willing to wait longer for work in order to avoid hiring and training a new person. One possible argument here, though, is that if the work queue is growing, recruiting and onboarding a new hire would temporarily reduce the team's capacity and throughput as people are pulled off of this work to train the new hire. Hiring early can help make sure that the service levels remain acceptable.

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Record everything.

we have some projects for which there were no tickets neither[sic] time measures, (recording everything would be time-consuming and we already does[sic] not have enough resources)

Tough.

Have you ever seen this story? That's what jumped to my ind when I read your comment: "I don't have time to [sharpen my saw/record everything]! Can't you see how busy I am?".

So taking the time to record everything will make you (temporarily) fall even further behind? Good. More fires means it'll be more visible to management.

(Competent) management wants sustainably fast work. But if you're frantically cutting at a tree with a dull blade to hide the fact that you're falling behind... then you're hiding the fact that you're falling behind.

Stop frantically hiding the problem. Pause, start recording everything, measure how far behind you now are, and bring that measurement to management.

And if they try to punish you for doing this... well, now you know you should get a new job with competent management.

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