Putting a Business Spin on IT Metrics

Ann All

In an interesting acknowledgment that undue emphasis on the bottom line may not always be a good thing -- especially when it comes to fostering better alignment between the business and IT -- some hotshot CIOs like HP's Randy Mott and Global Crossing's Dan Wagner are supplementing traditional IT metrics like ROI and TCO with more creative measurements.


As outlined in a recent InformationWeek article, Wagner emphasizes a more symbiotic relationship between IT and business by tracking how many times IT pros accompany sales staff on calls. Among Mott's metrics: on-time delivery of IT projects, time IT staffers devote to innovation activities vs. simply sustaining technology, and annual benefit per project.


While we don't dispute the importance of metrics, we agree with some observers that IT has a tendency to be a little too in love with them, in extreme cases spending more time on reporting progress than enabling it. Many IT departments also tend to focus too narrowly on areas like throughput and fail to put them in terms business users can understand.


Another common, yet problematic, metric is IT as a percentage of revenue. According to a Gartner analyst, this measure is essentially meaningless and often used as an excuse to justify treating IT as a cost that needs to be controlled rather than an area that can add real business value.


CIOs would do well to remember that putting a more business-oriented spin on IT metrics may be the only way to make them truly useful.

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