IT’s Role in Performance Measurement and Management

By Peter Wilson

The creation of dashboards has increasingly fallen on the shoulders of IT. Yet this department has traditionally had more experience managing technical performance over business metrics such as project schedules and the budget. What is IT’s role in organisational performance management and how do you transform from simply being a metrics report generator to being an innovative creator of new business metrics? Undertaking a four-step process can help CIOs define their department’s role in managing and developing best practices for organisational metrics-based performance management.

1. Workshop it internally. Partner with your CEO and other members of the executive team to champion an organisational metrics initiative that involves an analytic framework and plan for implementation. The effort will need internal sponsorship at the executive level to drive employee-wide education on how the right metrics can be used to drive better results. Everyone on the team should be across the organisation’s information needs, desired outcome and the steps toward achieving it: What types of performance will be measured and how will it be done, for example? How will IT performance be tied to organisational goals?

2. Focus your metrics on the big picture. A mistake many organisations make is focusing on lag indicators. Do the metrics focus on the big picture, assisting in expectation management, or are they just trivial metrics reported because they are easier to measure? Performance management systems add real value when you can use them to change course mid-stream to minimise damage or maximise peak performance. Real-time data is the key here; it can help IT better react to application response times and help desk queues, for instance.

3. Develop and implement new business metrics. Your metrics should reflect what is driving your business strategically. Your guiding questions when determining these metrics include: Where is the business going, how will it get there, what indicates success? You will likely have a combination of IT and business metrics, such as resource allocation and customer satisfaction. Each metric should have a plan to back it up covering how it will be used and a course of action to correct any poor performance. Using 90-day action planning broken into 30 increments with granular plans is one way to use these metrics to manage performance.

4. Don’t report metrics – react to them. Reporting data or the metrics adds no value. The value comes from interrupting the combination of results, identifying the root cause and then implementing clearly defined service improvement programmes across the business. The key for IT will be to learn how to interrupt poor performance and even predict future states by analysing both trend and real-time data.

IT’s role in performance measurement and management is ultimately to advise the business what is working, what could be improved and what can be immediately corrected so it doesn’t spiral into a bigger problem down the road. By initiating this metrics programme from the IT department, you’ll showcase IT as an innovative department that is in tune with, and highly motivated to enable, the key business drivers of organisational success. You’ll also get a great education on the different groups within your organisation and what they are trying to accomplish. That’s not just IT leadership, it’s businessleadership – and it will be much appreciated by the powers that be.

Peter Wilson is Datacom’s CEO of Systems for Australia and Asia. He helps ensure Datacom offers and fulfils technology solutions globally.

Peter strives to drive the success of the business across locations by strategically directing Datacom’s future. His vision ensures every Datacom location is equipped with the world-class knowledge and capabilities necessary to help enterprises transform their IT department.