What Business Really Wants From IT
Measurements must result in something - they must have a reason to exist. A measure is pointless if it does not cause something to happen.
Although there are many technical measures available in the depths of the technologies that run our systems, in business terms we are really only interested in the tip of the IT measurement iceberg. And therein lies a problem: it is possible to summarise ad absurdum, until the measures make no sense.
The emphasis must be on providing measurements that help the business to understand how the technologies it uses are performing, and enabling managers to make business decisions. Questions that need to be answered include:
- Is the infrastructure available to the business where and when it is needed?
- Is the infrastructure stable enough to run core business processes?
- Are the right people getting access to the infrastructure when they need it, or are the wrong people being denied access?
- Are the company's IT infrastructure resources efficient (not wasting time and expense), and effective (producing the intended results)?
- How much does IT infrastructure cost, and is this cost within acceptable benchmarked limits?
- Is the business acquiring and upgrading infrastructure technologies to keep pace with the company's growth?
- Is the business using its infrastructure capacity effectively?
The measures for IT application systems are different in that they directly support business processes, and as such are more visible and obvious to business sponsors and users.
The questions that the business should be asking of its IT application systems should include: are the application systems meeting their mandates? In other words, if a system was implemented to allow the business to take orders in less than five seconds, is this actually the case? Also, each system will need to have its own stability, access, efficiency, effectiveness, and cost measures.
You also need to consider how well the applications work in their own right. Are they integrated with the other applications and processes in the company? Can elements of one application be used elsewhere?
All of this goes towards the total cost of ownership borne by the business for its applications, and explains why ERP systems are so popular.
IT should never discuss costs without discussing benefits. One of the essential governance elements of application service provision must be a service forum in which both the measures of the application by IT people and the business experience of the application are shared and compared, differences are highlighted and acted on. Most importantly, here expectations of both business and IT are managed.
What Business Really Wants From IT, by Terry White is part of the Computer Weekly Professional Series, to order a copy, go to: