What Leadership Wants from Your Published Metric
As metrics management and business value dashboards (BVDs) become standard issue for most executives, those at the C-level are setting new expectations for the value that IT data should bring to the company.
Published IT metrics have become an essential staple of the executive toolkit — and business leaders rely on them for a staggering variety of tasks: evaluating the performance of business, predicting future trajectories, optimizing internal processes, budgeting accurately, etc. These metrics must be accurate, actionable, and instantly accessible, creating a very powerful resource when presented properly.
But “presenting it properly” is actually the main determinant of an effective metrics strategy. All data is not created equally, and while business leaders expect actionable insight from data presentations, not all strategies deliver on that promise. In the end, the first step towards crafting an effective metrics strategy is to understand the top concerns of the C-level leaders who are to evaluate your data. So what is it that leadership wants from published metrics?
Metrics are just numbers if they don’t provide a deep look into the mechanics of IT. First and foremost, they should clear up the relationships between disconnected areas, such as the ways in which service management is supported by capacity management. An executive doesn’t always have an answer to questions like, “Are these two systems operating together as efficiently as possible?” A good data presentation should anticipate these questions and make it clear how they’re being answered.
Many CIOs once assumed that the intense segmentation of their current tools (“cubbyholed” systems) meant that it was difficult to see the big picture, but these concerns should soon be largely moot. Effective data metrics should be able to clearly demonstrate the costs, efficiency, and actual value of IT tools to business leadership, both in the moment and in terms of their expected future progress.
It’s no longer necessary for a big team of analysts to piece together complex IT data for the sake of a presentation — automated metrics can replace roughly 1,000 hours of work each month (or six report analysts) with a single click. No longer required to wait for a laborious and error-prone process, executives can act upon information in real-time and focus their IT analysts on improving processes. This not only builds confidence and trust in your numbers, but greatly enhances your agility as a team.
Most of the data collected from IT operations isn’t relevant to high-level executives, which is why your tools must translate that information into a clear business context. By framing IT information in terms of P&L and key business metrics, you provide an all-coveted answer to the question perhaps most often posed by executives: “so what?”
Beyond the basic business context, having a clear understanding of presented data informs the executive whether your statistics are good or bad, and for what reason. Going to tank the business? Bringing you to new heights? Neutral at the moment, but of critical importance down the line? Important for whom? This is stating the chief importance of your claims, as well explaining the ways in which those conclusions were reached.
The ongoing functions of the business, as well as the market surrounding it, are continually evolving — your metrics must also adapt to changing circumstances. To imagine a metrics or dashboard strategy as a project with a finite beginning and end is a mistake — continually challenge your methods of information gathering and seek new ways to make that information useful.
Naturally, your IT metrics will be as complicated as the systems that support your business. The IT teams and leadership who uncover the most salient and actionable data from among that web will be the ones who reap the greatest rewards.
(Main image credit: Pixabay)