Last Updated Apr 17, 2009 9:21 AM EDT
Problem is, the light may be illuminating a room no one uses. The real question we want IT metrics to answer is this: What is IT's value to the business?
"It's easy to fall into the pathology of choosing metrics that indicate success while an organization is actually struggling," Harvard Business School professor Robert S. Kaplan, co-creator of the Balanced Scorecard, tells CIO Insight in Putting IT Metrics to Work. "If you're too inwardly focused and you think mostly about IT as its own function, you can easily wind up measuring the wrong things"Susan Cramm, who writes an IT blog on Harvard Business Publishing, calls this "IT's Dirty Little Secret." Few companies hold their IT execs accountable for creating value. Read her post for methods to achieve this goal, measures such as the aforementioned Balanced Scorecard.
But even lacking a metrics program, Cramm says, you can start measuring IT the right way by asking a simple question: What tangible evidence will we have that this initiative has positively impacted the business?
"The key to managing IT-enabled investments is to apply the measures throughout the life cycle of the initiative," Cramm says. "Make the measures part of the project approval process, then baseline the measures at the start of the project. Then measure changes after each key stage or phase. Keep in mind that the initiative doesn't 'end' with the implementation of the system, but with the attainment of system mastery and use."Taken together these pieces in CIO Insight and Harvard Business Publishing will have you rethinking how you measure IT returns to the organization.