Why IT Performance Measures Need to Change

Typical IT performance measures focus on things like 'server availability' or 'number of nodes supported'. And those things are probably of interest to the IT manager. But information technology is supposed to be in support of something; just having the technology available does not mean it adequately supports the mission of the organization.

Another category of IT performance is related to compliance and standards. Both in the private and public sectors IT work must be performed in accordance with the standards and guidelines in place in the organization. IT standards typically govern such things as technology platforms used, official languages, IT security, access to information and privacy. IT performance measurement often includes reference to the IT organization's compliance with the standards.

But even compliance does not get to the heart of the matter i.e. in what way does our Information Technology support organizational priorities and program delivery?

Answering this question means stepping outside the IT environment and looking at IT performance from another perspective - impact on the organization. This means that impact measures of this type usually focus on the end-user experience.

An example of this might be a new system that reduces customer transaction time. Saving your customers' (internal or external) time might have a significant impact on satisfaction and therefore success of the program.

By the way, this is also how IT managers can defend against cuts to the budget. If you can demonstrate that your services are essential to satisfying organizational objectives, you are a lot better positioned to survive 'program review' time.

The correlation here is that IT also has to be seen as a strategic partner in the success of the organization. IT needs to be sitting at the strategic planning table when priorities are set and programs defined. How else will IT managers know what is important from the customer's perspective?

In short, if IT managers want IT to be at the table and not on the table, they need real measures of IT performance, linked to the success of the organization.

For further reading . . .

Best Practices in Performance Measurement

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