March 2017: Does your company have a set of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for IT? If not, then it’s missing out on the single most effective way to see how well your IT is performing so you can make the improvements you need.
Defining your IT metrics also defines something else — your commitment to using IT to help meet your business objectives! Here are some examples of how reporting on IT KPIs helps your company know more, do more, spend less, and perform better:
Let’s start with a non-IT example. Let’s say you’re running an airline and want to know how you can do a better job of serving your customers. You can ask your customers, “How was your flight?” Or you can ask them specific questions about the check-in and boarding processes, the friendliness of the staff, the quality of the refreshments, the comfort of the seats, and the temperature on the plane. You’ll get much greater value from answers to specific questions and won’t be left guessing about what criteria customers are using for their evaluations.
The same goes for the performance of your company’s IT. If you ask your employees how IT is doing, for example, they’ll be inclined to say “good” or “fine” unless something that is going wrong at that moment or has gone wrong recently. Their evaluations can also be based on how much they like the people who work in IT. Don’t assume that no complaints around the water cooler means your IT is working great.
For IT to help drive your business, hone in on the KPIs that show how IT is performing in specific areas.
Develop KPIs that measure specific data points within each IT area. You might want to look at system output and traffic, bandwidth availability and utilization, peak loads on servers, and transactions per second. To measure your Help Desk performance, for example, you could ask your employees:
- How long did you have to wait before getting help?
- Did the technician understand the problem?
- Did the technician solve the problem or have to escalate it?
- Did you have to be on the phone while the problem was being solved or could you get back to work?
- Was the technician friendly?
- Was the technician sensitive to your needs?
- If the problem couldn’t be fixed right away, did the technician offer a workaround in the meantime?
Keep in mind that if your employees have low expectations of IT, they will probably have high satisfaction. It’s easy to meet a low bar.
The simple act of asking your employees questions like these shows you expect IT to perform at a certain level, thereby raising the bar. It’s a feedback loop that sets the trajectory for continual improvement and expectations.
When it comes to your network, here are some KPIs you might ask about network management:
- How long it took to repair the system after a failure was reported
- How many personnel were needed to fix it
- If the problem recurred and when
- If the scans came back with issues and if so, how fast they were resolved
Developing IT KPIs and reporting on them can be time-consuming if you haven’t done it before. If your company struggles with this, it’s a good idea to hire someone who’s experienced. You can bring in a consultant or an outsourced IT services firm that uses KPIs as part of their business model — both will have an established set of metrics that they can customize for your company. Also, outsourcing this piece of your business can free up your internal IT team from collecting, analyzing and reporting on IT KPIs themselves.
When you report on what’s working and what’s not, you know how you should be spending your time and money.
KPIs for IT are especially useful because IT is inherently measurable — it’s all about the data! Taking the subjectivity out of “how’s IT doing?” lets you clearly define what’s important to you, focus your employees’ attention on meeting your goals, provide a common language to discuss your goals, and recognize when you’ve hit your targets (and when you haven’t). The last thing you want to do is keep allocating budget to something that’s not working or supporting your objectives.
Don’t be the restaurant manager who just stops by the table to ask if everything is OK. Be the manager who stops by the table and also leaves a survey that asks about the host, server, food, booth, ambience, acoustics, speed of the service, and, of course, the likelihood that they’ll come back again — the restaurant’s primary business objective.
Leapfrog, as you might guess, is crazy about IT metrics. Using and reporting on IT KPIs with surveys, scorecards and written reports is a big part of how we do business. Each month we give our clients performance reports that show how we did for each of their IT KPIs. We also send our client’s employees surveys asking how we did — we include that data in our reports. If you’re interested in learning more about how IT KPIs can measurably improve your business results, feel free to contact us.