As technological infrastructure of organization transforms and the number of business applications rises, the need to measure and control the quality and the effectiveness of IT increases. With increasing cost considerations, IT needs to deliver additional services at a lower cost better. To achieve these goals, many businesses today use metrics to maintain and improve IT quality and effectiveness. This research takes an in-depth look at IT metrics, how to use them, what makes a good metrics and the different types available for IT management. The study also considers the strategies to integrate Metrics into an organization’s workflow.
An IT metrics is a quantifiable measure, which an organization uses to track, monitor and evaluate the performance of its business processes. They are calculations or formulae to manage IT processes like production operation. Measuring IT metrics enables the company to determine its progression toward its objectives. Therefore, the task requires the input of key players in the firm. In some organizations, the business metrics is in the mission statement while others just incorporate them into the general process (Luftman, 2003).
Many reasons make metrics essential tools in a company. Organizations use Metrics to drive improvements and help focus resources and employees on an important target. The variety of metrics that a business can use vary from mandatory metrics (metrics used for legal, contractual or safety purposes), to those that track improvements in efficiency, greater profits, reduction in complaints and better savings. Metrics should agree with and support the various strategies for all aspects of the company such as finance and marketing, competition, standards, marketing or customer requirements. Metrics indicate the organization’s priorities and provide results on the performance and ambitions. It tells the initial and current position and shows performance.
Furthermore, IT management has complete attention and concern in collecting and analyzing metrics from their departments. Application performance, staffing levels, virtualization ratios among other metrics can be useful to IT professionals in the effective management of people and assets, which significantly influences the IT budget.
IT metrics are helpful in every part of the management process. For example, employees at the planning department need metrics for resource planning, cost estimation, budgeting asset acquisition, and scheduling. To determine the sufficient staffing levels in various IT activity areas, organizing staff must use IT metrics. Managers at the controlling department rely on metrics for determination of status and progress of projects and processes. However, achieving the highest benefit from metrics requires that the organization keep its metrics as simple as possible to help employees understand the metric and its influence ( Moorsel, 2001).
There are five basic qualifications a metrics must meet to be fully beneficial to the organization. According to (Need, 2006), SMART characteristic is the acronym, that is, specific, measurable, attainable, repeatable and time dependent. A metric is specific if it is evident on what it means. For instance, metrics like “server performance” is not a useful metrics as it is unclear about its meaning and the mode of its measurement. We could use “peak daily CPU utilization percentage for server A” in which case the means of measurement is straight, and the meaning is clear.
In addition, a metric is only achievable if it is realistic. Aiming for “100 percent Uptime for Server A” may be a worthy goal, but even servers which are fault-tolerant will occasionally experience problems, even if minor. In this case, an achievable metric can be 98% average uptime over a month. A metric is meaningful when it is repeatable with ability to be consistently captured and measured over time
Good metrics measure the activity that they are need to measure. For a matrix to be reliable, it must possess the quality of its underlying data. Its design must also be accurate to convert the data into a validated, reliable metric. Measurability of a metrics defines how the company will measure its associated activities. In most cases, IT metrics has to be comparable to the business and all operating units. Relevance to corporate objectives is of value. Finally, a useful metric is cost-effective in both collection and analysis to deliver greater value compared to the cost incurred to process it. In short, it is necessary that the parameters provide functionality by measuring what they need to as well as providing means for better control and understanding. It should also correctly translate across all organizational units and operations.
There are many different types of metrics depending on factors like the kind of industry and the organization’s choice. Individual IT metrics vary both in relevance to particular business and usefulness. For example, in the case of IT metrics for the purpose of help-desk functions, there are universally accepted metrics, which are relevant and easily measurable. Examples are call abandonment rate and answering speed. Others vary in relevance depending on the company context such as user ID administration, password resets for security purposes or customer satisfaction metrics.
For better metrics selection, the organization must assess all the potential applicable metrics to understand those that are most influential. For usefulness, it is important for metrics to include a comparison point such as industrial or company benchmarks, or data from internal historical of the business. The enterprise can also set its own and regulatory guidelines for benchmarking IT metrics.
Ones the company has made the right choice of parameters, it needs to integrate the metrics into its workflow. To do so; first, the company must define all metrics for benchmarking. Using SMART is crucial at this stage. The next step for successful implementation requires the approval of senior managers who are to effect culture change from the top to avoid resistance from across the company. Therefore, open communication is necessary to everyone contributing. The third step is understanding the required data is and its collection procedure. This information must meet the quality standard for usefulness.
The next step is measuring and sharing the results to avoid the problems of setting excessive metrics. The level needs to remain manageable. Sharing ensures the use of metrics in learning from others. Frequent meetings for a progress review, sharing experiences, successes, and problems is critical. Lastly, continual parameter revision as the business evolve ensures the metrics always conform to purposes.
To summarize, IT metrics are an important management tool for any organization that aims to achieve both its short-term and long-term goals. At every management, metrics are necessary for the accomplishment of departmental functions. For IT metrics to be beneficial, it must meet the SMART characteristic. Otherwise, the business expectations of the Metrics may not be realizable. The organization should follow a well laid down procedures for it to integrate IT metric to its workflow. Potential metrics are to be defined approval by top management. Open communication facilitates the measuring and sharing results hence better performance.
Luftman, J. (2003). Assessing IT/business alignment. Information Systems Management, 20(4), 9-15.
Need, P. (2006). Human resource management: Gaining a competitive advantage.
Van Moorsel, A. (2001, September). Metrics for the internet age: Quality of experience and quality of business. In Fifth International Workshop on Performability Modeling of Computer and Communication Systems, Arbeitsberichte des Instituts für Informatik, Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany (Vol. 34, No. 13, pp. 26-31).