Ideas for IT Metrics That Matter to the Business

Ann All
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How to Connect Data to Meaningful and Measurable Results

Highlights on building an IT Metrics Correlation Model to gain the full value of your data.

A growing number of CIOs appear to recognize the importance of IT metrics, seeing them as a great way to help illustrate IT's value to the broader business. I cited comments from John Hancock Financial Services CIO Allan Hackney and Zynga co-founder Andrew Trader in this post, both of whom are big believers in the power of metrics to help drive business improvement.


In an earlier post, I also shared some great advice on implementing an IT metrics program from Mark Tauschek, director of IT Research for Info-Tech Research Group. Tauschek also shared some guidance on top-level metrics and possible interpretations. For instance, noting that operational spending comprises more than 80 percent of typical IT budgets, he said operational budget as a percentage of revenue is one of the most critical metrics to benchmark against peers.


That's certainly one of the more commonly tracked IT metrics. I also really like the financial metrics suggested by Arun Manansingh, CIO for The Judlau Companies, in a post on his A CIO's Voice blog. He starts with that operational budget metric and goes on to mention several others I think offer far more insight into IT performance:

  • Percent of keeping the lights on cost compared to the total IT cost
  • Dollars saved due to productivity improvement initiatives
  • Average seat/resource cost trending (He tracks this month to month, quarter on quarter and year to year)
  • Actual spend vs. budget (Same time frames on the tracking)


I'd say that first metric, regarding lights-on cost vs. total cost, is especially important now given the business interest in CIOs taking a more active role in innovation initiatives. (Business executives especially like it if the CIO can also reduce costs in doing so.)

Manansingh offers some other good suggestions for metrics related to project performance, operations management and information security. I especially like one for percent of projects initiated without an approved business case, as I think it could help IT avoid being made a scapegoat if projects exceed time or budget constraints, or worse, fail completely.

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