ITIL: Service measures, breaking with tradition

The merger in 2005 of the Inland Revenue and HM Customs & Excise to create HM Revenue & Customs (HRMC) brought together two different approaches to measuring service. The IT division was tasked to come up with an approach to unify the measures across the new department to better reflect the user experience.


We have very strict funding limitations, so if we want money for anything we usually have to identify “hard” benefits. We couldn’t adopt an all singing all dancing solution as we would not be able to get the funding for it to be implemented.

On itSMF Membership

The itSMF has made an important contribution to the project. I have been the chair of the itSMF Midland Regional Group since April 2005 and my role involves identifying subjects to discuss. For many years now the Group’s meetings have been so popular that there are often over-subscribed.

In October 2005 Don Page, CEO of Marval did a workshop session on emotional metrics and used the regional group to test the ideas. That specific topic actually came at the right time to trigger ideas for us to use and take forward. It helped with getting away from technical issues and allowed us to focus on ‘Why are you reporting and making these decisions?’ These are the sort of questions that we need to be asking.

So we had to compromise, meaning that what we are developing is not the ultimate solution. April 2007 is a key milestone and it’ll continue beyond then. Pragmatism determined what we can have in the short term versus what we can achieve in the long term.

A key aspect of the approach has been to enable an improved focus on continual improvement activity, so that we are in a position to measure things, decide how to improve them, and then put those improvements in place.

As a simple example the department is responsible for the supply of power to buildings. So, until now, we haven’t had a single source of information if there are power issues. This means that we haven’t had the visibility to focus on them. We will now be able to report on this, identify a trend and act accordingly.

We are on schedule to deliver key deliverables the contractual integration and the work on the business events that should be measured.

Of course the scale of operation for a project of this kind is huge. The customer base for the Department is the whole country from tax credits through to airports there are very few people in the country not touched by the department. Computing brings many benefits, but often measuring the failures is seen in a negative light, we intend that the steps we have taken will mean it is seen as a way of improving services.

Article supplied by IT Service Management Forum (itSMF), an independent organisation focused on the on-going development and promotion of IT Service Management best practice, standards and qualifications. itSMF conducts forums for its 14,000 UK members, as well as regional meetings, special interest groups and annual conferences. Formed in the UK in 1991 there are now itSMF official chapters in 40 countries.

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