IT plays a significant role in building business competency and driving digital transformation. IT needs to continually assess its own capabilities and evaluate overall performance via multidimensional lenses. There are many great things about metrics. Metrics is part of transparent visual management allowing pulling. But how to measure up for running a thriver IT?
A measurement system is a necessary foundation for continuous improvement: Metrics can help you get some objective perspectives on what you are trying to manage, but they need to be crafted and interpreted well. All stakeholders may not be in a position to visit the team or talk to team members, so the right metrics can be helpful is to track progress in an improvement initiative. Another reason to use metrics is to help stakeholders understand what is going on. Without measurements, it can be hard to tell whether attempted improvements make the situation better or worse. If your team or organization doesn't have a preferably simple way of figuring out whether over a short span of time your work is better than in the previous period and created more/enough value for the end-users, how will you reason about where to invest in improving? The right metric is requested in the right context but without any explanation of why it is requested, without concern for whether the gathering is onerous, or without concern for whether there is a better or easier way to gather metric that achieves the same goal, the measurement can easily go wrong.
S.M.A.R.T goals are more as a guide based on meeting the five criteria-specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely: Businesses need to avoid vanity metrics and really focus on key metrics that correlate to better business outcomes. Managing performance and improving IT reputation means understanding results, setting metrics, fixing plans, and making decisions to ensure the strategic goals are on the right track to get implemented, and communicated effectively at the different level of the business. The SMART framework is helpful, but be cautious of setting goals which are really valid. First, measure the right things; then measure them right. The strategy stems from longer term goals and results in annual objectives aligned to the strategy. Annual objectives start with the executives choosing a few key initiatives, understanding their interdependency, and driving them down the line. S.M.A.R.T goals work better as a post evaluation tool. Coming up with one to three major aims/goals that everyone understands and agrees upon is key.
Measuring up for running a thriver IT: The fact is many IT organizations are not even trying to address measuring their value to the business as they simply have not employed the methods to enable it, and looking only at cost, schedule, and quality, will not fully address value and only leads to conflicts in what value is as it does not address the portion of value that is not measured in these indexes. If you put the effort into taking the correct measurements, collecting the data obtained, analyzing it, evaluating it, determining what needs to be improved, determining what the actions are to improve it, assigning actions to perform the improvements, continue to measure the results and make adjustments in the improvement plan, the business will most definitely be improved. The perception comes not only from what you're doing with the metrics, but from whatever the team suspects you might be doing with them, including a lot of irrational (or rational) assumptions based on relationships, trust, and past experiences. Assuming an organization believes that metrics can lead to continuous improvement, it won’t be just a matter of explicit communicating the intention behind metrics, but a matter of coaching and leadership to guide the team to understand the purpose of doing that and engaging on that.
It is not the measurement that is important; it is what you do with the data obtained from the measurement. Always keep in mind, people matter, achieve progresses by measuring the key objectives for all your team members in a mix of team and individual objectives, and highlight examples of progress and performance you want to encourage.