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.
Two months ago I shared some good advice on IT metrics from Mark Tauschek, director of IT Research from Info-Tech Research Group, based on a presentation he gave at the Midmarket CIO Forum. In it, he offered some great tips on creating metrics and reporting them in ways that were meaningful to business units.
One of my favorite suggestions was to include context and provide a call to action when reporting metrics. So, don't just say IT resolved 175 help desk tickets during the past month. Instead, note the number is down 10 percent from last month, but 30 percent of staff time is still devoted to resolving tickets. If 40 percent of tickets were related to operating system issues, suggest that providing OS training to users could cut down on the number of tickets and boost IT productivity.
Providing context is one way to get to the heart of stuff that matters for business users. But getting at that context is often a far from simple matter.
Some tools also show where in the business process something isn't working, yet that doesn't go far enough, opines Pearce. He'd like tools that could illustrate the real-time cost of IT issues in business terms. He writes:
Now some of you may question the value of being able to report on this in a real-time way but just consider this. How would your IT teams react if everyone could literally see a counter that showed the money or reputation ticking away during an incident?
He suggests four metrics that would offer clear value to business units:
The first and fourth items are probably well within reach of many IT organizations. They simply require a bit more legwork than the standard uptime metrics. Fortunately, I think they would also make the biggest impact on business executives.
For more on metrics, I rounded up lots of good advice in a November post. I included 12 characteristics of effective metrics written by TDWI's Wayne Eckerson, each with advice on ensuring the metric fulfills the desired characteristic. For instance, to make metrics strategic, Eckerson advised organizations to "start at the end point-with the goals, objectives or outcomes you want to achieve-and then work backwards." I also included tips from Jim Quick of Diamond Management & Technology Consultants for organizations with not enough metrics and those with too many. For example, one tip for IT organizations that manage too many metrics: Go down the list of reports and ask, "What do we do when we look at this report?" Eliminate those for which the answer is "nothing."