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.
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