The art of measuring your IT department and how it can help you reach your long-term goals
How do you properly measure your internal IT department?
The key is to first understand that your IT department is really a “business results department.” Technology is nothing more than the medium through which IT sets up a business for success. You’ll see this concept spelled out in detail in our recent blog feature.
In short, the goal of any IT department, regardless of the company it serves, is to move the business forward. They do that through two distinct focuses: Proactive tasks and reactive tasks. Your goal is to measure how effectively your IT department handles both.
Taking a long view is vital for any business. Every business has five-year goals and many have 10-year goals. IT plays a crucial role in ensuring the business is in position to reach those goals. Unfortunately, IT departments are often viewed as problem solvers. There’s a technology problem and the IT department receives a service request to fix it. While that’s important, an IT department that spends all its time fire-fighting won’t help move the business forward.
You want to ensure your IT department is helping you reach your short-, mid-, and long-term goals: from this quarter to 10 years from now. As abstract as that is, it’s something that you can measure if you know what to look for. First, understand what proactive steps your IT department can take to help you reach your goals and avoid potential roadblocks. Here are some questions you can ask that will help guide you:
- Machine Updates: Do you have the latest patches? How about antivirus software?
- Servers: Do you have the proper size? Are they being overburdened or reaching capacity? Will you need larger servers as you grow? How soon do you anticipate needing to upgrade?
- IT Budget Management: Your IT team could ultimately help improve your financial efficiency if your software or services costs are too high. Are you paying too much for licenses? Not utilizing all of the software you’re paying for?
- Technology Roadmaps: What are your present business requirements and what technology do you need to supplement those requirements? What are your future business goals and what technologies will help get your business there? When should you start investing in technologies you’ll need in the future?
Next, establish measurable metrics for tracking progress on those proactive steps, wherever possible. These performance indicators can include reports on server capacity, software utilization or other technology needs your business uses where efficiency can be tracked. It can also include tracking where your business has encountered problems that could have been avoided by being more proactive. Lean on your IT team to help you create these metrics. This collaboration will help by giving them agency in goal-setting. Plus, as your company’s technology experts, they’ll have the best understanding of how to realistically track progress for these items.
Finally, establish regular check-ins. Most companies only check in with their IT department monthly or quarterly. If you want your IT department moving in concert with the rest of your business, establish a weekly check-in. Not only will regular touch-points help keep your IT department working proactively, they will also help improve your experience with IT as a CEO or client. You’ll have a better understanding of what your IT department is up to, and weekly check-ins also give your IT team a chance to set long- and short-term expectations, further improving two-way communication.
No matter how proactive your IT department is, problems will inevitably arise. When you think about how effective your IT department is at solving these problems, try to think about what the CEO and the client want. They don’t see what goes on behind the scenes. When they have a service request, they just want to know the job is done right and done quickly. When creating metrics to track your IT department’s performance in a reactive setting, you want to measure for proficiency and efficiency. Here are a few tips for establishing metrics:
- Productivity Metrics: Response time, resolution time, number of tickets closed and incidents per device should all be tracked with objective data and logged to view progress over time.
- Quality Checks: Appoint someone to review a sample of randomly-selected closed tickets and give feedback to the team members who worked on the tickets. This process could take as little as an hour a week.
- End User Satisfaction: Establish a net promoter score on every ticket closed. When feedback is received it is sent to the key leaders or managers in the team and can be incorporated into your review process with the team.
Using quality metrics to track your IT department’s proficiency, efficiency and customer satisfaction will help your business immensely in the long run.
If you’re measuring properly, you will be able to identify problems in your process and solve them before your IT department gets a bad review from a client or a service request ticket goes weeks without being resolved. Even when you’re measuring your IT department’s reactiveness you’re doing so with an eye toward being proactive.
Finally, whether you’re measuring for reactiveness or proactiveness, the most important thing you can do to measure your internal IT department is to review them regularly. Make it an open conversation. Establish weekly and monthly check-ins. Review short-view (weekly) and long-view (monthly and quarterly) data.
The more frequently you critically examine your IT department and the more you involve the department in its own improvement, the more effective everyone will be at moving your business forward.