The IT department is an essential part of every company. It doesn’t matter the size or the sector of the business, IT plays an important role in the efficiency and speed of tasks. The information technology sector is no longer seen as just a service provider but as an integral part of operations.
To ensure a company succeeds, metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) help identify problems and seek solutions. Productivity can improve greatly by setting metrics and measuring performance.
When properly implemented, IT metrics will help build a culture of improvement in IT infrastructure and facilitate the relationship with clients. Managers will also have a better idea of how each sector is affected by IT issues, identifying causes for delays or mistakes.
There are many metrics to implement and many things to look for. How to determine what works for your business and how to monitor or interpret results? And once you have the data, how to fix mistakes and improve services?
We answer these questions in this article.
What are IT Metrics?
For a long time, IT metrics would just assess services and deliveries. They were not used to assess the strategy of IT efforts or how they impacted other departments.
Looking at what kind of metrics have guided the IT sector in the past, they were very technical and quantitative. One example is measuring how long it would take for a ticket to be solved or how many issues IT departments should handle during a certain period of time. This type of measurement does very little to improve strategy and productivity in other departments.
A more complete approach when looking at IT performance is looking at other metrics, which will reveal the health of IT systems, how often problems occur and identify recurring issues that might be making the entire department less productive, affecting the development of the company.
With this in mind, there are two types of metrics in business.
Performance metrics measure the impact of IT operations on strategy and results. They will be set according to the goals of the company and their processes.
These types of metrics are strongly dependent on what a company wants to achieve and its growth plans. It is impossible to set performance metrics if there are no clear goals that need to be met. Before determining what you need to measure, make sure you know where you want your company to be heading and what needs to be done to get there.
Vanity metrics are numbers or results that look very positive and give the idea of improvement and increased productivity, but actually do very little for your business. They do not offer ideas on how to optimize your workflow or help in making decisions.
These metrics are not completely dismissable, but they need to be assessed carefully so as not to give a wrong idea.
An example of a vanity metric is the average number of tickets received or solved by an IT department. A high number might indicate that IT workers are highly productive, but if you look into it, having too many issues needing attention reveals there might be a problem in the IT infrastructure.
Metrics must always be accompanied by a serious assessment of what they mean and what they reveal about your business. Otherwise, great numbers can mask serious problems.
Main IT metrics
As we discussed, the metrics you decide to implement should always be aligned with your business goals and objectives. There are many different metrics to take on, but the most important ones will be those that help you achieve and understand your goals.
Here are some key IT metrics that can help you improve your business and optimize your department.
Assessing the quantity and the type of tickets created within the IT department is an important thing to note.
Categorizing tickets will help you understand what sort of problem is more frequent and which areas of the company require the most attention from your IT department. This metric will also allow you to create an action plan to avoid the most frequent issues and what should be your priorities.
In order to make the best use of this piece of information, categorize the tickets the department receives according to the level of priority and type of problem. For example, are the tickets opened most often affecting just one person or an entire department? Does it impact productivity or does the solution can be postponed?
Once you understand the priority of each ticket, looking at what causes the most problems will allow you to come up with more permanent solutions. Identify if tickets are opened due to hardware problems, software issues or malware, for example. If software issues are more frequent, it might indicate you are not using the best product according to your needs. If hardware tends to cause the most problems, consider replacing the equipment.
Closely monitoring the causes and priority of IT tickets will offer you some guidance on how to improve.
Uptime measures how long an IT equipment is operational. It is one of the most critical metrics because it indicates how viable or sustainable an IT operation is. An IT infrastructure is only considered productive if it is constantly available. Therefore, the ideal uptime should be between 99% and 100%, according to Atlassian.
Uptime is measured according to the average time between problems and how long it takes for the problem to be resolved by the IT department.
Return on Investment (ROI)
ROI is the metric which will show you if you are making or losing money when it comes to your IT department. It is a crucial measurement to look at when you have invested in new equipment or infrastructure improvements.
Looking at how your investments are bringing results will help you identify the priorities for your business and what areas need more attention.
Like any other metric, ROI must be aligned with your goals in the short and long term. For instance, it is not rare for investments not to bring results at first, but be necessary in the long term. It is crucial to consider this metric according to how you see the future of your company.
Security is one of the most important concerns for companies in different sectors. If the company deals with sensitive or private information, this concern is even more significant, requiring a lot of care from the IT department.
Security incidents can significantly impact the productivity and credibility of a company. Therefore, incidents must be monitored constantly, with well-defined indicators.
When implementing a security incident metric, list how often your company faces issues such as attempts to invade your system, firewall activations and possible data leaks. Everything must be properly documented so as to guide future actions and decisions.
According to your goals, you must also determine which category of security threat requires the most immediate attention.
An important factor to consider when implementing this metric is the analyzed time period. You will decide how often incidents must be assessed and what is a reasonable number of incidents reported every month – if any.
Certain software or services will help you better manage security incidents and recover faster from threats.
Mean time to acknowledge
Time is an important factor in IT operations, as the faster an issue is resolved the more productive the IT department is. Mean time to acknowledge, or MTA will measure how long it takes for a technician to either solve a problem or at least interact with the person who made the initial request.
MTA will help you assess, for example, if your IT team is qualified to deal with problems that often arise or if an expert team is more equipped to meet your company’s needs. It can also identify which process should be automated or how you can improve certain aspects of your operation.
If an MTA is high, it might indicate that you can optimize and automate some of the processes in your IT department or that it is time to increase the number of employees.
MTA is calculated based on the total time spent working on tickets divided by the number of tickets.
First Call Resolution
First Call Resolution is the metric indicating which ticket was solved immediately by your IT department. It will reveal what kind of problem is more easily resolved and how efficient the sector is.
The higher the FCR, the more efficient your IT department is. However, due to the straightforward nature of FCR, it is important to not let it become a vanity metric. Ideally, an IT department will not have to deal with too many tickets. If employees are acting fast and solving numerous issues every day, this might indicate not that your IT department is extremely capable, but that there are too many problems damaging the productivity of other sectors.
Like every other metric, the FCR must be assessed as part of your entire company’s goals and carefully considered in order to avoid problems and come up with solutions.
How to manage and assess IT metrics
Not that you’ve learned what to look for when assessing your IT department, it is important to understand how to manage these metrics and apply them towards the success of your operations. Knowing what to do and how to improve based on the data you have collected is an important step in monitoring IT issues and resolutions.
Here’s how to use these metrics in your favour.
Use the metrics that are right for you
Here we have listed some of the main IT metrics that you can use, but they might not be right for what you need in your business or for your long-term goals. Understanding what works and doesn’t work for you is part of managing your department.
Ask questions and actively listen to the people working every day solving tickets. They will be able to guide you through some of the key aspects of the sector, identifying what needs to be monitored and measured.
As we discussed, performance metrics are more than just numbers. They must be indicators on how to improve and what decisions to make in order to reach a goal.
Being selective with your metrics is also important. There is no need to monitor everything if you will not be able to act on everything. Choose your battles and make sure to follow through on what is most important.
Just talking about metrics is not enough. You need to implement them thoroughly, ensuring everyone in the department is aware of them and how important they will be in the development of the company as a whole.
Every member of your IT department should feel directly involved with implementing and monitoring metrics and seeking improvement.
It is important to make clear how implementing KPIs will help the entire team, optimizing processes and making the workflow more efficient. Their success is your own success.
Register and report your results
An essential part of implementing metrics is assessing them constantly. Having numbers on hand mean nothing if they are not interpreted and registered correctly.
Analyze your results periodically. When doing so, you might see an improvement or a significant change that needs to be addressed. The evolution of your metrics will indicate if you are on the right path or not.
Include your team members in this constant assessment and consider changing metrics along the way. The purpose of these KPIs is to show a company where there is room for improvement, so keep that in mind and keep evolving.
Determine cycles for your metrics
Not every metric needs to be long-lasting. They should aid you in making decisions, so they might not always be necessary.
When deciding on which numbers you need to pay attention, also decide on how long this should be one of your focuses. As mentioned above, it is encouraged to change course if that is better aligned with your goals.
Once you have set a clear time period to monitor your progress, it is easier to identify how things have improved and what else might need your attention.
Metrics, in every department or business, heavily depend on your company’s goals and objectives. They are crucial in determining progress and growth, as well as identifying possible issues and opportunities.
Understanding your business and the challenges your IT department might face is the first step in determining what metrics to use.
Having an efficient and productive IT department is part of the success of a business and metrics will drive the sector to evolve.