Ed Toner

Blog: Fundamental Data

Last week I received an email announcing the State of Nebraska’s Emergenetics - August Workshops.  If you have never attended an Emergenetics workshop, think of it as a tool to aid professional growth rather than a mere personality test.  Emergenetics provides participants with a better understanding of their thinking when compared with the thinking preferences of others. Last year I asked the leadership team to attend this workshop so that they could learn more about themselves and also try to understand me-- not an easy task.

So what does that have to do with the title of this blog?   I hope it will make sense by the end.........and of course, in a way everything revolves around consolidation.


Providing Accountable Service

Less than 12 months ago the first consolidation effort regarding networks was implemented.  In June of 2016, 11 employees from three agencies came on board to be part of the enterprise network team.  In September of 2016, 24 IT employees from 10 Cabinet agencies consolidated into the enterprise Infrastructure environment in support of our server environment.   This week we completed notification of the employees who will be involved in desktop support consolidation, which we are now calling site support as it will be Regionally-based support versus Agency-specific support, which I wrote about back in March.

The first thing you are asked when you take over IT support is, “What service level can I expect?”
My response is always the same, “What is your service level now?”
Public or Private Industry, the answer is often similar, “It’s good,” or, “We simply don’t have time to gather that information”.

Regardless if the business is private or public sector, the organization needs to be able to monitor performance progress against service goals.  If you are not tracking “Fundamental Data” then you must rely on intuition, perception, or simply, what you want to believe.  In, “A Long Process Improvement Journey”, I discussed how IT Service Management (ITSM) tools help evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of the work getting done.  At some point, managers must collect accurate data and learn how to manage metrics. This is key to improving a level of service.



Getty Images


Exceeding Customer Expectations
Response time and first call resolution are often the deciding factors between a good and bad customer support experience.  Fortunately, the State of Nebraska already has an Enterprise ITSM tool to assist the agencies in tracking and measuring this valuable information.  Some of the information can only be gathered by using an ITSM tool, specifically:

  • the customer’s preferred contact channel
  • the total number of incidents and service requests assigned during a time period
  • the requests sorted by category
  • the number and types of requests that are assigned to a particular resolving group or agency
  • and, the average time to “resolution”

Best of all, managers can use ITSM to easily look back at data and gain awareness as to how their customers want to interact (portal, phone call, etc.) and how they were handled by the support team.
Not having the structure in place to track these data points is a road block to any organization’s improvement and results in lost opportunities due to misconceptions. Here are the top three reasons to buy into ITSM:

  • Gain back lost Opportunities.  An ITSM tool helps business managers identify the gaps in service, analyze data trends, and eliminate the root cause of issues.   Not only does actionable data improve the overall support of your customers’ needs, any issues that might otherwise go unnoticed get highlighted before they become unresolved. 

A Service or Help Desk typically handles hundreds of tickets per day. There are frequently a significant number of recurring tickets, meaning that efficiency and productivity are both lost in solving the same issue repeatedly.

  • Set Customer Expectations by your Proven Standards.   Structured data in the form of metrics help frame your Service Level expectations both internally, and with your customers.  An ITSM tool can provide real-time service level updates allowing you to plan confidently within a timeline.  We already know that good customer service revolves around quick, accurate communication.  Setting accurate expectations, up front, empowers both sides of the business to prepare for the unexpected.


  • Data changes perception into reality.  From determining what actually happened with a particular incident/service request, to managing a level of service for an agency, department or team-- fundamental data gives managers the ability to analyze service levels objectively.

There are numerous reasons and purposes for utilizing a tool to gather information on incidents and service requests.   The structure is required to be able to input useful data and obtain meaningful metrics.  In Nebraska, we communicate what is important by measuring trackable data and then by analyzing the story told by the metrics.  

For example, I track the average number of days “open” for Incidents and Service Requests to gauge our progress against our Service Level Objectives (Steady improvement as you can see from the trend line).



Incident Report


Service Request


Another important metric I make sure to review is from the ITSM Change Management module.  Below is the report from the past four months; it shows us hitting the objective of 98% successfully trending upward every month.  This is not a measure of impact.  The implementing teams back out a change if issues occur, and the practice is to implement changes after hours to further minimize the impact of changes to customers.


Successfully Implemented


How does your organization utilize data to obtain metrics?  I would love to hear about your victories with using an ITSM tool.

Professional Growth
Now what does all this talk about metrics, data and analysis have to do with my Emergenetics results? See for yourself…

How You Think

I rank in the 89 percentile in Analytical and Structural thinking. Imagine a room full of 100 people who represent Analytical thinking in the population at large. To your left are the people who exhibit Analytical thinking less than you do, and to your right are the people who exhibit it more than you do. There are 88 people to your left, and 11 people to your right.




There are four thinking attributes:
Analytical thinking is rational, inquiring, and clear. The Analytical part of the brain wants to see data and research.
Structural thinking is detailed, practical, and methodical. The Structural part of the brain follows rules and is cautious of new ideas.
Social thinking is relational, collaborative, empathic, and supportive. The Social part of the brain is team-oriented and socially aware.
Conceptual thinking is imaginative, unconventional, and visionary. The Conceptual part of the brain likes change and is easily bored.

So the connection here is…always bring data and always have an agenda. Happy Face

As always, I appreciate your hard work and respect for the taxpayers of the State of Nebraska, which you show each and every day.


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