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IT Metrics: The Business of Success

By Dick Weisinger

What are the best metrics to measure the success of an IT group? You might consider some of the following:

  • System up time/availability
  • System performance
  • Number of production problems listed by severity

None of these, according to Gartner analysts. All of these are obviously important metrics, but increasingly businesses are realizing that purely technical metrics isn’t where they should be putting their focus. Instead, the focus should be on how well IT is helping achieve business goals.

Bill Kirwin, managing director at International Institute of IT Economics, said that “the most effective way to measure IT success is by aligning with the business objectives. Take your business objective and look at it as a holistic set of requirements, including the underlying IT functionality, the business process capabilities and all the things within the business that go wrong that are not necessarily IT oriented. The systems we’re going to put into place in order to meet this business objective, and each of those IT systems will, have key performance indicators that indicate whether they meet those business objectives.”

James Andersen, analyst at Gartner, said that “boards of directors are concerned primarily with revenue, cost, and the risk of maintaining the revenue. IT should be thinking about the things that are relevant to that, not just how busy IT is (how many intrusions, how many patches, how much uptime, etc.).”

Business and IT objectives need to meld in order to maximize effectiveness. It’s important for CIOs and IT leaders to be able to target business benefits and outcomes, rather than focus purely on just IT’s technology.

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