Okay, we’ll say it – the IT department doesn’t have the most glamourous function in your business. It doesn’t generate sales, develop strong customer relationships, or create fantastic products. It’s your engine room, though, so it’s critical to all aspects of the organization.
Just like the engine room on the Serenade of the Seas cruise ship as it sails into Astoria, in fact. The engine room on this cruise ship is about as far away from the luxury restaurants, pristinely turned-out cabin crew, and stunning on-deck pools, as you are likely to get. However, without the engine, nothing would function.
To keep your engine room humming, it’s essential to continuously evaluate whether your IT department is performing for your business. The following crucial metrics and assessments will help.
How well are the resources in your IT department being utilized? If they are under pressure, you are probably not getting maximum value from your investment. Even if the technology in your business is running well now, an under-pressure IT team is probably spending most of its time firefighting, e.g. solving ad hoc problems with minimal time spent on optimization, essential maintenance, and forward planning.
The problem that many companies face is that they don’t understand the full extent of the strain being faced by their IT department, that is until something major happens. By then, it is arguably too late – like closing the stable door after the horse has bolted.
The solution is to get access to resource utilization data, then using the insights from that data to determine whether your staff levels are sufficient, not enough, or too much. In other words, moving to a position of making data-driven decisions for IT resource utilization.
You could track the hours worked by your IT staff, for example, assessing what they are spending most of their time working on. You could also look at the number of tickets completed per technical resource, or you could look at developing a formula for calculating the best IT staff-to-user ratio.
150 users per technical resource is a good place to start. Then look at factors that could narrow this ratio, including:
User experience (UX) is becoming an increasingly important priority for businesses across all industries. It is often talked about in terms of customer experience (CX), but employee experience (EX) is significantly important.
Good EX, results in higher employee engagement and IT asset utilization. This, in turn, improves productivity and drives efficiency savings, both of which have a direct impact on profitability and achieving business outcomes.
In many respects, nothing matters more to the performance of the IT infrastructure in your business than good EX. You could have the best technology in the world, but it won’t work if it doesn’t fit into the workflows of your employees, is too clunky to use, or fails on another critical EX factor.
As a result, it is essential to measure EX in terms of your company’s IT infrastructure and the performance of your IT department. There are lots of ways you can do this, including CSAT surveys. You can also request feedback immediately after an interaction with the IT department.
The biggest ongoing cost to your business in relation to IT is likely to be lost productivity during system downtime. Even in the best-case scenario, every second of downtime means revenue loss. The worst-case scenarios can result in even more damage to the business.
Here’s the reality, though – IT system downtime happens. If Ben Franklin were around today, he might have amended his famous quote to “…in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death[, taxes, and IT system downtime]”. You only have to look at the biggest technology companies in the world, from Apple to Google to Amazon. Even they experience system downtime problems from time to time.
The objective for your business should be to maximize system availability by minimizing downtime. However, you can only do that if you know how much downtime you are experiencing. With this information, you can compare current performance with past performance, and you can begin making predictions about future levels of system availability.
Properly understanding system uptime and availability in your business will also motivate your IT department to be proactive, as well as giving you more information when making decisions that will impact IT, such as scaling your business or investing in new technology.
While system availability and uptime are arguably the most important reliability metrics you should monitor, there are others that are crucially important too. They include:
A major security, data loss, or disaster event that impacts your IT infrastructure will make other IT considerations pale into insignificance. There is no point in having a highly efficient ticketing system that generates excellent user satisfaction scores if there are cracks in your IT security, resulting in your company getting smacked by an avoidable ransomware attack.
As a senior executive in your organization, how can you properly oversee this key part of your company’s IT function?
You need data on the percentage of devices in your organization that are not up to date. We’re not just talking about desktops, laptops, and servers, either, as every device connected (or that could be connected) to your systems is a potential threat.
You also need metrics on firewall management, IT security monitoring, and the attack surface of your organization. The latter is important, as technologies like the IoT and strategies to digitally transform your business are likely to be making that attack surface bigger by the day. Your IT department needs to be on top of this.
You also need backup and disaster planning data that includes the frequency with which backups are taken, the reliability of the backup recovery process (and when it was last tested), how long the process takes, and whether the documentation for the process is up to date.
Regular evaluation of your IT department will guide decision-making in your business, helping you understand the type and volume of resources that you need. It also helps your IT team keep focused on business outcomes and performance, rather than getting too bogged down in the nitty gritty of IT.
At StepUP IT Services, we can help with this evaluation of your IT resource requirements. We can provide you with a unique perspective, focused on the needs of your business today and tomorrow. Get in touch to book a consultation.