Using KPIs to Put an End to the IT Anarchy

Michael Vizard

There are far too many companies where there really isn't much in terms of what passes for IT accountability. As long as applications are available, everything is considered to be just and dandy.

In reality, the performance of the business these days is intricately linked to both the performance of those applications and the costs associated with making those applications available. As such, Myles Suer, senior manager for IT performance management for Hewlett-Packard, says IT leaders need to start thinking more in terms of key performance indicators (KPI) if they ever really expect to manage IT as a service.

To help IT organizations do just that, HP has come up with a set of KPIs for IT organizations that are based on separate guidelines developed for the COBIT 5 and IT Infrastructure Library (ITL) framework. But Suer says it's equally important for IT organizations to not go overboard with KPIs. They should focus first on benchmarking where they are as an organization today. The immediate goal shouldn't necessarily be to be better than somebody else as much as it should be to start continuously improving, says Suer.

KPIs encourage people to put repeatable processes in place that ultimately reduce things like configuration errors. In fact, Suer notes that at least half the problems an IT organization encounters are self-inflicted. Measuring the impact of those wounds to the business reminds people why it's important to not let the same errors keeping happening over and over again.

IT is at the heart of most modern businesses today. Any improvement to the way IT operates has a material impact on the overall business. That means that IT leaders need to make sure they are actually managing IT like a business. And as any business executive will tell you, what's not measured usually doesn't wind up getting done particularly well, or sometimes not at all.

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