How do you improve with one metric quality, cost, performance, employee and, most importantly, customer satisfaction? I think MTTR is one to consider, but with a DevOps twist (agile+lean+ITSM). The thing I love about DevOps is that it allows for people to think differently. DevOps is the movement driving organizations to find new ways of collaborating, communicating, cooperating and improving the way they use technology to create and support services.
While many agree that MTT stands for “Mean Time To,” there is no common agreement on the R. I like using 5 Rs, as they cover the life cycle of idea to realization (in the hands of the customers in a way they like).
So what are the 5 Rs? Well, let’s work backward (shift-left thinking):
- Review: What happened? How can we stop this in the future? How can we shorten the cycle?
- Return: Do customers agree that all is well? How satisfied are they with not only our performance but the fact the event occurred?
- Restore: The time and effort to get servers, network, applications, data, passwords back as they should be.
- Repair: The time and effort to resolve the issue.
- Respond: The time to notice, decide if we can fix or get others involved, and their reactions to begin getting things sorted.
MTTR is a cycle of events. Breaking them down and understanding the value of each step enables you to reduce time, effort, waste and cost. How often do things break and why? Are they self-inflicted because we test poorly? How can you apply automation or self-healing? How good is your monitoring and alerting and response mechanisms? How great is your documentation? Do you rely on a certain person to fix things or can anyone? Knowing the answers to these questions can make issues become less frequent—or, at least, reduce the effort to address them when they do occur, as things will break.
Knowing these answers also helps clarify priority of issues. Working back from the customer drives the flow of work to highlight faults. Why treat all issues as P1 all month? For example, payroll is only a P1 when you are getting paid, but the rest of the month it can be a P2. Working with customers will help ensure you are fixing the important things, not something someone wrote in a service level agreement that is rarely updated.
MTTR is also a fabulous learning measure. DevOps is all about collaboration and that begins when people talk to each other, repair things or introduce a better test or monitor or alert to capture issues and customers are minimally impacted. Let your service desk own MTTR and see how issues get resolved better, faster and more safely.
MTTR helps drive movement to virtual or cloud. MTTR can also help you improve your A/B use of infrastructure or services. Have an issue? We’ll flip a switch.
But the overall goal of any metric is to drive actions, decisions and improvement. MTTR is such a measure. Be brave, throw away your SLAs, get people involved for issues and use MTTR to make things better across the life cycle. Then celebrate the success of your journey!
Let us know. Do you use MTTR? Can you measure each step and perform a retrospective?
About the Author / Daniel Breston
Daniel Breston is the Chief of DevOps Transformation for Ranger4. Daniel has 30+years leading IT Service, Operations, Applications, Data Center and service partners in management of technology enabling business processes and functions. He has also spent 15 years of consulting and coaching leadership teams across the EU and UK in developing their people, processes and use of technology to deliver technology services better, faster, safer. Daniel has qualifications in IT Service Management (ITIL, COBIT,etc.), Lean and DevOPS.