It’s that time of year, quarter, or month when you have to justify your existence — or least your value — to the business. You can scramble around gathering data to support some of your organization’s key achievements after the fact and hope that you’ve found what you need to answer questions from your most challenging business users. But that’s like trying to explain to your spouse or significant other why you just purchased a new car without previously mentioning that you were thinking of buying one. It takes a lot of energy and creative thinking.
There’s got to be an easier way to justify value, especially in IT. The process starts with not just collecting metrics, but also making sure you are collecting the right ones. You must understand which metrics communicate the big-picture of the services you’ve delivered. A good example of an effective metric might be “size of the change backlog.” Such metrics provide KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). Here’s what you should look for in an effective metric:
Is tied to a business goal
Is important to someone (there is a customer who wants it)
Measures a single condition or event
Is easy to measure and report
Has specific results that support decision making
It’s also important to understand the steps required for building a metric strategy. Here’s a list from a recent BMC article, How to Chose Metrics that Demonstrate IT Value, which provides some excellent recommendations to help shape your metrics strategy.
Select a business goal.
Determine how IT supports that goal or in which specific focus areas (processes or activities) IT needs to improve. Each of these focus areas could be analyzed in parallel.
Determine the maturity of the process or focus area.
If maturity is too low, determine the scope of metrics needed to measure progress.
Review current metrics to make sure they meet the characteristics in the bulleted list above.
Select new metrics, if needed.
Review metrics for effectiveness, completeness, and aging.
By choosing metrics wisely, your business customers will be able to understand and appreciate not only what you’ve done for them lately but also what you plan to deliver in the future.