What Makes a Business Value Dashboard Valuable to IT Management

    December 16, 2015
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    By Rich Razon

    IT managers have difficulty demonstrating their value to decision makers. BVDs do the translating for you by converting dry, jargony IT metrics into visualizations that are both engaging and intuitive to business leaders.

    In many ways, IT managers are the unsung heroes of modern business. In an age when operations and customers depend on complex and layered digital services, they’re the ones who direct multiple nuanced and simultaneous projects to keep the ship afloat and, if all goes well, stay on budget. But because few professionals understand the intricacies of IT, it’s easy to place blame when things go awry.

    Business value dashboards present a powerful opportunity for IT leaders to both clearly demonstrate their value in business terms and to gain further insight into their own operations. By consolidating, visualizing, and contextualizing IT metrics as dollar values and simple figures, IT management can find cost-saving opportunities, stay within budget, and have more productive conversations with decision makers about how to move the business forward.

    Creating Space

    IT leaders understand they must perform the triple challenge of accepting new projects while maintaining current operations and defending a potentially tight budget — essentially, to do more with less. Resistance to these often unrealistic expectations can easily make the process cyclical and reactionary, forcing IT leaders to favor meeting SLAs and putting out fires over the launch of projects that would truly create value.

    But by aggregating metrics across the breadth of IT services and translating them into dollar figures, IT managers can easily determine whether specific areas are worth their cost, decide whether to eliminate or consolidate those resources, and discuss tangible business benefits with decision makers.

    For instance, if the value provided by your resource utilization is much less than the cost of your server infrastructure (reflected as a low efficiency number in your BVD), you can pinpoint specific ways to bring those numbers closer together, thus creating more room for exciting projects. Similarly, you can demonstrate the tangible costs of downtime to executives and defend the acquisition of additional server resources if you’re at risk of going over your capacity.

    In this way, your below-the-line operational stats (like resource utilization and service reliability) will always be aligned with metrics that mean something to business leaders. This not only helps to develop and justify budgets — it also earns IT leaders a more active role in broader decision making.

    Take a Proactive Stance

    By speaking in business terms, IT leadership can more easily pitch projects and resources that can benefit business at large — which will be better received by executives who are now gaining deeper insight into the cost structures of IT.

    For instance, IT managers can easily pitch the best combination of cloud-based and on-premise server infrastructure (executives tend to favor the cloud) by pointing out the relative costs of security vulnerabilities and hardware maintenance. At their best, BVDs help IT leaders to explain new efficiencies, consolidate existing resources, and eliminate back-and-forth budgetary discussions.

    The result is a more actionable flow of information at the IT management and executive levels and more streamlined communication between them. The faster IT managers and decision makers can get on the same page, the better the former can address underlying issues, take a proactive approach to finding solutions, and communicate priorities to IT operations workers.

    (Main image credit:  Jim Larrison/flickr)


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