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The Challenges of Calculating Help Desk ROI

Level 9

At some point IT will be asked to make a business case for some expense related to the Help Desk. It could be to justify hiring new staff, laptop upgrades, training, or to avoid the axe in a time of tightening budgets. When that time comes, for whatever reason, you’ll want to be able to show the return on investment (ROI) of the Help Desk expenses.

At first, this seems like it should be easy enough to show – simply calculate the cost of the Help Desk, create some metrics to calculate the value of what the Help Desk provides to its customers (customers, not users), and then demonstrate that the second value is greater than the first.

In practice, this is often extraordinarily difficult for two reasons. The first is that it’s actually hard to get people to agree on the value of the Help Desk metrics that are easy to measure. Some examples:

  • Number of tickets/cases handled: Some will argue that a high number proves the value of Help Desk, while others maintain that it shows the environment is too fault-prone or difficult to use.
  • The cost of the customer-hours of productivity that Help Desk saves: It’s difficult to get people to agree on the monetary value of a customer-hour or on how much time a particular Help Desk action saved.
  • Average time to ticket/problem resolution: A low number here is an obvious sign of a good Help Desk, but does a closed ticket mean the problem is actually resolved?

The second reason is that the things you actually want to measure turn out to be really difficult to put a number to. What you really want to know is:

  • Are our customers happy with the service they’ve received?
  • Are our customers more productive because of us? If yes, how much more productive?
  • Was the issue actually resolved satisfactorily, or did the customer simply work around it?

What metrics are you tracking for your Help Desk? What do you wish you could track?

Level 11

Management needs to look at their time spent on the phone with poor help desk support to realize they don't want to be that company.  If your customers don't get problem resolution quickly and painlessly, they won't be your customers for long.

Level 15

Since most of our help desk tickets aren't even logged.  We send random surveys to see how satisfied the customer is with their overall help desk experience.  We look for things like:  was the problem quickly resolved, the time to get to resolution, and was the fix long term or band-aid--if so, follow up?

It would be nice to move to a system that tickets items coming and problems pseudo-self-service to allow customers to enter tickets, have them routed accordingly, escalated when needed, and closed when resolved without being taxing on the actual help desk personnel.  Ultimately, providing the overall effectiveness metrics of the help-desk and showing our Employee Development department where they can spend their training time.  Particularly, since our help desk spends lots of time on the phone not in break fix but in how do I do this mode.

Level 13

Management never wants to be that company, but the question is, how much are they willing to spend to not be that company? At some point, you inevitably reach a tipping point where the additional cost outweighs the additional benefit.

Level 17

Look two weeks back to see if you have any "reopened tickets" and you may see trends either with groups or techs that you can then remedy. If you are able, new tickets with 'unresolved' or 'unresolved ticket/request/etc' is what I see most in our system..

Find your user trends and terminology to search for those closed ticket with lack of resolution, or possibly follow through.

User feedback is key, getting a user to fill out a survey without over exposing them to forced feedback is a balance you have to find, and will be different based on your size of company... smaller companies may not need this, if the single or few IT guys are easily accessible. Ill content may be widely known throughout the building if they are not.


Everything mentioned thus far is valid...but numbers and times don't always equate to a good efficient helpdesk..

This is where customer satisfaction ratings and surveys really come into play.  They give you the perceived perspective of the customer that the pure numbers don't provide.

Level 13

Customer satisfaction numbers are essential, I agree. Unless that satisfaction can be translated to a dollar amount, they're not particularly helpful in calculating ROI.



Level 13

In my previous comment, I don't mean to be dismissive of the idea that customer satisfaction numbers are important to ROI. Particularly in external-customer-facing support environments, satisfaction with support impacts future purchases and positive or negative word-of-mouth advertising. Internal support environments can impact employee efficiency, and add to or reduce labor costs in doing so. These are challenging things to quantify (and I don't have good answers for this), but the task can still be worthwhile.

Level 15

Therein lies the subjective nature of determining ROI.  Unfortunately, there is not absolute objective method and view of the value.  It's not like we can just add a category to SW to monitor it

Level 17

I smell a feature request.

Level 13

Pfeh! That's what Universal Device Pollers are for!


Our help desk tracks the number of contacts a requester has with the help desk staff before the issue is resolved, with the goal of 1. That metric indicates he satisfaction a user has (or doesn't have) when he or she hangs up the phone after calling to report a problem. If the technician is able to resolve the issue during the initial call... that's a good outcome.

Level 17

Not a bad metric to watch there. I think this could allow trending on your analysts as well as the callers... repeat callers that is.