As I have sat down with some groups and discussed strategic planning, particularly the big "2020" planning, it is clear that many organizations don't have the metrics to support their plans or haven't thought about it much. Having metrics to help develop the strategic plan provides a stronger direction as the plan is built.
There are four main stages to building a strategic plan:
When we talk with people about metrics they are usually concerned about what to measure and then how to report it out. However, one thing that rarely comes up is the continuous improvement aspect. We are not talking about the part of improving your processes to hit your goals - making your dashboard turn green. We are talking about when your metric is green for 2 or 3 reporting periods, are you adjusting them?
A dashboard that remains green all the time speaks to two scenarios: 1. A perfect operation or 2. Complacency. The first can happen but it is really hard and expensive. But, we will acknowledge that it can happen in pockets. For example, successful back-up percentages. Once this reaches 99.5% or higher, most places would consider that consistently green. Not much room to move and getting it any higher would not be smart as those dollars should probably be spent elsewhere. Now the later, complacency, is a problem. This is the manager that is proud of his all green dashboard and likes that the executives don't pay them any attention because it is all green.
If this is the goal, simply lower the thresholds. However, that is usually not the point of a metrics program. Striving to improve is the point of the program and tends to be in line with the business's objectives. Improve the business -- make more money -- continued success. The reason we have found that people struggle with this is having the period or two or three or more where the metrics are yellow or even red after they adjust. Let's pick on backup percentages again. If you start off at 85% and get to 90% then you adjust. 85% was red and 90% was green. When you adjust, now 90% is red and 95% is green. The BRAG chart is going to be like a Christmas tree but the risk profile is shrinking.
Metrics, BRAG charts, slides, and PPT decks are all tools to tell a story. The story of continuous improvement is your's to tell. Be ready to tell that story and how it impacts the business. Although the colors may look like things are not going well as long as you can tell the story your operations will move forward.
Our founder is giving a talk at CAMP IT on 5/25
Measuring and Managing IT Investments
This session will take a look at how to measure IT performance from tactical to strategic. It will then provide a means to determine where to place IT investments based on risk and effort. Then we’ll discuss how to know if those investments are providing the expected impact.
Many people have asked about what they should measure or track. A great place to start is measure what matters. This may sound cliché but is really holds true.