Measuring and Delivering IT Value

This post sponsored by the Enterprise CIO Forum and HP.

I spend a lot of time talking to IT professionals, managers and CIO’s as part of my job and as part of my ongoing networking activities. During our conversations, we talk about various topics but the most discussed topic seems to be around ‘value’ of the IT group and how IT professionals can demonstrate true value to their organizations.

Now…value is a very subjective term.  Every person and oganization thinks about ‘value’ differently, but I think the basic tenet of ‘value’ is this: “how can I / my team help the organization succeed”.   Of course…’succeed’ can be defined many different ways as well, but let’s save that discussed for another day.

Myles Suer with HP writes a nice piece that touches on the ‘value’ discussion in an article titled Real IT managers speak out about management and measurement on the Enterprise CIO Forum.  In this article, Myles relates some interesting questions that he’s recently heard from IT Managers. A few examples are:

  • Several folks discussed the need to better demonstrate the value of IT—both for running the business and changing the business
  • How do we achieve best practice, and then how do we measure and demonstrate that it to the business?
  • How do we make sure that we are delivering the right services?

Sounds like questions/discussions I’ve had as well.

Myles responds with the following as a means to solve these issues and show ‘value’:

These questions point to something we talk a lot about at HP: the need to create a service-cost model for IT as well as the need to evaluate IT services through a business lens. A performance management system provides the fact-based evidence of how IT supports the business. It can also – when combined with financial planning and analysis – provide the numbers that enable IT to partner with the business to make decisions on service delivery and prioritization. With a performance system in place, IT leaders have a picture of how and when IT is adding value to the business and begin to optimize, managing assets across their full lifecycle.

Emphasis mine.

I would agree with Myles. Some form of performance management system should be able to tell the business what type of value they are getting from their IT group and investments.  But…what about the more ‘ethereal’ value that is much tougher to measure?  You know… the softer side of things (people, etc)?

I’ve not seen an IT / Technology performance management system that incorporates these softer  value ideas into it…have you?  Can you even really measure many of these soft values?

At the end of the, at least for the people I speak with, what most IT professionals want is the ability to point to measures that the organization has said are important and say ‘look…we are delivering what you need’.  A good governance and measurement system is necessary…but many times the act of measuring and managing measurement takes precedence over delivering.

That’s the difficult part of working in IT and leading IT.  Showing value  while also delivering on that value.

Image credit: Measured Currency by By Brooks Elliott on flickr

This post sponsored by the Enterprise CIO Forum and HP.

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Where do useful IT Metrics come from? - Brian SheaBrian SheaEric D. BrownScott Barber Recent comment authors
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Scott Barber
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Sounds a whole lot like my chapter in How To Reduce The Cost of Software Testing (chapter in .pdf form here: Rightsizing the Cost of Testing: Tips for Executives http://www.perftestplus.com/Rightsizing_the_Cost_of_Testing.pdf

Eric D. Brown
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Thanks for the link/chapter Scott. Will download and read later.

Brian Shea
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This is a great topic. Your post focuses on measuring the business value of IT at the enterprise level. I’m a bit off topic, but in my work I’m focused on the project level. From my perspective, the better you execute on the delivery side, the easier time you’ll have with measurement. Here’s why: in order to deliver a successful project, you need to define solid requirements. The more thorough and insightful the requirements, the more effective the technology will address the business problem. And at the same time, the better the requirements, the easier it is to identify and… Read more »

Eric D. Brown
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Hi Brian –  thanks for stopping by…the comment isn’t off-topic at all.  It points to some of the real difficulties facing IT today.   You are correct that better requirements (more thorough, etc) are the key to better delivery…but the act of creating ‘better’ requirements can be seen by non-IT folks as the IT group dragging their feet and ‘over-thinking’ things.  To get past this requires communicating our actions, why we are doing what we are doing, etc.   That’s the kicker…in trying to deliver value to our clients (via better requirements for better project delivery, etc) we are also… Read more »

Brian Shea
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Hi Eric,
Totally agree.There’s definitely a skill to developing solid requirements, while at the same time communicating the value of the requirements to the client. It’s important from a pure customer service perspective. And also, once the stakeholder/clients stops believing that the requirements analysis is adding value, the process becomes much less collaborative and much less effective.

Thanks for the response!

Peace,
Brian

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