IT departments are failing to measure their own performance or service levels to the business, according to new research.
Without such basic measures in place, IT departments risk having their major functions outsourced, analysts said.
A survey by research company Coleman-Parke for IT services provider Dimension Data found that few firms have comprehensive measures of performance.
Based on 200 in-depth interviews, it found that 32% of all companies do not have any service level agreements (SLAs) in place to measure IT department activity against a specific target.
Of those with SLAs, only 41% of CIOs report they are regularly monitored, and only 43% regularly report on the SLAs. Overall, those with SLAs do not appear to be undertaking a robust level of measurement and monitoring, with only 25% of companies using SLAs based around end-to-end measurement of service, researchers said.
The most commonly used measurements for SLAs were non-financial business impact measures (67%), followed by technical performance measurements (59%).
The research also found few line-of-business managers had a direct relationship with the IT departments.
Thirty five per cent of CIOs said they had a comprehensive and integrated set of tools to monitor and manage key performance metrics, such as network capacity and application availability. However, 50% of respondents described their operations management tool set as "partial" or "inadequate".
John Holden, senior research analyst at Butler Group, said IT departments that did not measure their performance and service levels to users were ripe for outsourcing. Further pressure for greater transparency of IT performance came from an increasing need for effective corporate governance, he added.
"There is increasing recognition that IT is having to contend with increasing scrutiny from business. Service levels should be part of a cyclical culture between IT and business units," he said.
Although these ideas had been around for 30 years, Holden was not surprised that they were not always taken up. IT directors and CIOs who ignore these warnings risk losing their influence within the organisation or even losing their jobs, he warned.