There are very few businesses that do not rely on some form of technology to keep their business running. IT is capable of driving business success therefore IT performance has a direct impact on the degree of that success. So, how do you measure the performance of your organisation’s IT? And, if you are not measuring it, how do you know if it is effective or efficient?
Simply, is IT making your money or losing your money?
Old School Performance Indicators
Having been in the game for some time now I can see that the way we used to measure our performance as an IT Department is quite outdated. As technology has changed, the way we measure success needs to change accordingly. The main Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) we used to track and measure are below.
- Up Time or availability.
- Average ticket age or mean time to repair.
While these metrics are important and still need to be tracked and adhered to, they are no longer the ones that determine how the IT Department performance impacts on overall business potential.
Up Time, Not Really an Issue
Up time is still important because the financial burden of down time can very easily be calculated. What has changed is cloud services such as Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Azure have improved up time so much that it is no longer an issue. We have been using these services for over 5 years now. I can only recall a single outage during this period. Up time has improved so much it is just now expected by users and can easily be achieved.
The Dilemma of the Average Ticket Age
Average ticket age is intended to represent how long it takes to fix a problem. A user reports an issue to IT, a ticket is created and once the issue is resolved the time the ticket was open for theoretically provides how long it took to rectify the problem. Sounds fair doesn’t it?
Where the problem lies is most IT employees know the average ticket age is being used to evaluate their performance. The figure that represents the average ticket age can be manipulated and if a low figure is tied to some form of compensation, then there is incentive to keep this number low. Tickets can be closed before an issue is fully resolved. A new ticket opened a day later for the same issue generally does not get noticed.
The average ticket age also fails to adequately highlight the degree of problem importance that caused the ticket to be open. The ticket in question may relate to an insignificant problem that did not really impact upon the business.
Most of organisations set a budget for their IT and then measure the success of their IT on simply not exceeding the budgeted amount. While budgets are important, what is really being measured here is irrelevant. Doesn’t this remind you of the government’s method of allocating a budget for something and the department then having to spend that entire allocation so they can receive the same amount next year.
What is important with any budget is getting value for money. This is relevant for any budget set for any purpose, not just IT. Value for money equals direct business benefit.
What to measure and how
The very simple answer to the question, “What do I measure” depends on what is important to your organisation. This answer is not the same for everyone. Your businesses goals and objectives may be different to another organisation’s business goals and objectives. Therefore, the answer to this question has to come from the top of the organisational tree. A good IT leader will then link the businesses goals and objectives to a metric that provides a specific business result.
Businesses use IT to drive business success. To effectively measure IT performance, the IT Systems, processes and procedures need to produce business outcomes on the bottom line.
IT and Business Growth
A great example of measuring IT performance is a marketing campaign undertaken by the business. Most marketing these days is digital so it is a perfect example of what can and should be measured if the IT department is involved in the project. Tracking how much time and how many resources are expended on setting up the marketing will provide you a cost of running the campaign. Once this cost is a known, management can make a commercial decision on running it internally or outsourcing the process.
Measuring lead generation, reach, opened emails, links clicked, website traffic and database growth are all business results that are generated by the marketing campaign. These need to be measured as a function of the IT department and its effectiveness.
IT department is no longer a support function working in geeky isolation. Today, a high-performance IT department is a collaborative, super-interconnected hub of your customer ecosystem.
In summary, what is most important to measure is not what the IT department does or how long it takes. What you should be measuring is what it produces against the cost of producing it. It’s simply about calculating return on an investment. Therefore, as a business or IT leader, you need to focus on understanding how your IT Department is driving business success. Then any investment made in IT, can be easily translated into business ROI.