The Watermelon Effect in IT

Learn what the Watermelon Effect is and why so many organizations struggle with it. Additionally, uncover the best practices for identifying and fixing the Watermelon Effect within your company.

What is the Watermelon Effect?

The "Watermelon Effect" is a metaphor for a situation where IT service performance metrics and KPIs appear to be hitting their targets (green on the outside) despite evident signs of an underlying dissatisfaction and frustration with the IT services among the employees and business stakeholders (red on the inside).

The watermelon effect highlights the disconnect between traditional IT metrics, such as service level agreements (SLAs), DEX technology metrics and things like server uptime, which often suggest that IT services are performing adequately, and the actual experience of employees and business stakeholders who may encounter issues and frustrations not captured by these metrics.

Addressing the Watermelon Effect requires a shift towards a Human-Centric IT approach in IT Service Management, focusing on user experience, the efficiency of IT services in supporting day-to-day operations, and the actual impact of IT on the productivity and motivation of employees. This involves gathering and analyzing Experience Data from end-users to identify and rectify areas where IT services fail to meet their needs, thus ensuring that IT performance metrics accurately reflect the true health and effectiveness of IT within an organization.


What is the watermelon effect? See this picture

How to fix The Watermelon Effect?


Step 1: Collect the Data

Going Human-Centric with your IT allows you to expose The Watermelon Effect and change the way IT is perceived inside the IT teams but also with key stakeholders like business, CFO and HR.


Learn about Human-Centric IT


Step 2: Make it a practice

The IT Experience Management framework shows you the best practices and approaches to bring IT Experience Management into the everyday life of your IT organization.


Read about ITXM Framework


Step 3: Implement XLAs

Experience Level Agreements enables you to make employee experience a commitment for all stakeholders that focuses on the outcome of IT, Experience of End-Users.


The Practical Guide to XLAs

Implications of the Watermelon Effect for IT Leaders

The Watermelon Effect creates frustration for IT leaders for several reasons, primarily because it reveals a significant gap between the metrics that IT departments traditionally measure and report, and the actual experience and satisfaction of the users and business stakeholders.

Below are listed some of the issues and impacts of the Watermelon effect that causes frustration for the IT leadership:


  • Misalignment with Business Objectives: IT leaders strive to align IT performance with broader business goals. When metrics suggest everything is fine but users are dissatisfied, it indicates a failure to truly support business objectives, creating strategic misalignment.
  • Inaccurate Performance Measurement: Traditional metrics (e.g., SLAs, uptime) may not fully capture the effectiveness of IT services. When these metrics are green, but users are frustrated, it suggests that the measures IT leaders rely on to gauge success are inadequate or incomplete.
  • Resource Misallocation: The Watermelon Effect can lead to resources being allocated based on misleading performance indicators, resulting in investment in areas that may not improve user satisfaction or address the real issues at hand.
  • Damage to IT Reputation: The discrepancy between reported performance and actual user experience can erode trust in the IT department. Users and business stakeholders might view IT as out of touch with their needs, damaging the department's reputation and undermining its credibility.
  • Increased Pressure and Scrutiny: When issues are masked by superficial metrics, it can lead to a crisis when the underlying problems become too significant to ignore. IT leaders may then face increased pressure and scrutiny from senior management to address these long-overlooked issues.
  • Missed Opportunities for Improvement: The focus on traditional metrics can prevent IT leaders from identifying and leveraging opportunities for genuine improvement. By not addressing the root causes of user dissatisfaction, IT may miss out on chances to innovate and enhance service delivery.
  • Challenge in Prioritizing User Experience: The Watermelon Effect underscores the need for a shift towards a more Human-Centric IT strategy. However, making this shift can be challenging in environments where technology and process metrics have always driven decisions and investments.


To overcome the frustration caused by the Watermelon Effect, IT leaders need to adopt a more holistic approach to performance measurement and management that includes user satisfaction, service quality from the user perspective, and alignment with business objectives. This may involve developing new metrics, investing in user feedback mechanisms, and fostering a culture of continuous improvement focused on the actual needs and experiences of users.



What is the Watermelon Effect on SLAs?



The Watermelon Effect typically occurs as a consequence of misalignment between the guiding KPIs used to define and measure SLAs and the actual outcomes and impacts they have on the experiences of the end-users and stakeholders.

The cause for this is that SLAs often focus on quantitative targets related to technical or operational aspects of service delivery, such as response time, availability or resolution time. Often times these SLAs are being met on paper, but users are still dissatisfied with the service because it does not meet their expectations or business needs. Ultimately, there's a disconnect between the traditional IT metrics and KPIs used to measure the service performance and the actual end-user experience.

But, what can you do to fix the Watermelon effect?

Human-Centric IT fixes The Watermelon Effect


The best way to mitigate the Watermelon Effect in IT is to start focusing on the experience your employees and business stakeholders are having with IT. In order to do that, you need to start collecting Experience data and identify what's causing the watermelon effect in your business, and then make it a priority to continuously improve the user experience of your employees.


Discover the true value of Human-Centric IT