In today's data-saturated world, CIOs can often find it difficult to define and narrow down the metrics that support an organization's vision, key stakeholders, and the IT function. Metrics can be used as a tool to make informed decisions that enable the appropriate actions to deliver value, but they are often measured without any method or insight into how to take actionable steps forward.
To help technology leaders successfully define a set of priority-based metrics and increase the impact of initiatives, global IT research and advisory firm Info-Tech Research Group has released its blueprint titled Key Metrics for Every CIO.
According to the research, every CIO has the same set of priorities, regardless of their organization or industry, given that these metrics are influenced by similar goals of organizations. By using priority metrics, CIOs can make incremental improvements that can be measured and reported on, making program maturation a natural progress.
"Strategic CIOs monitor the right metrics relevant to their priorities, regardless of industry or organization," says Brittany Lutes, senior research analyst at Info-Tech Research Group. "When CIOs provide a laundry list of metrics to stakeholders, it demonstrates that they are probably measuring more metrics than they truly could action. It also indicates a lack of trust in their IT leadership team, who are the ones who should be monitoring these commonplace operational measures."
According to the blueprint, the right metrics can help CIOs ensure that their team members are focused on the correct priorities, that IT is continually adapting to meet changing business demands, and that communications with the business use language that resonates with stakeholders.
The firm recommends CIOs measure strategic business metrics related to people or stakeholders that will impact the business. For example, these metrics can be related to the customers who will purchase the product or service, the decision-makers who fund IT initiatives, or the IT employees who will be driven to succeed. CIOs should avoid spending time on operational metrics such as delivery times, ticket resolutions, or the number of phishing attempts. Although these operational metrics are important, CIOs should empower their IT leaders to be responsible for their management.
"Metrics are tools that can quantifiably and proactively indicate whether a goal is on track to being achieved, or retroactively if it was successfully completed," adds Lutes. "CIOs should use the data from these metrics to inform their actions instead of just collecting data simply to know a data point. They must be willing to act."
Few individuals in an organization understand IT risks and can proactively plan for the prevention of those threats. This gap makes the CIO responsible and accountable for IT risks, especially the components that tie into cybersecurity. The key metric to measure and monitor should be the number of critical IT threats detected and prevented before impacting the organization.
CIOs often want to know how the organization is performing compared to competitors. However, this comparison adds no value in demonstrating an understanding of the business or its objectives since each organization will have different sets of goals. A CIO's business objective alignment metric should be the percentage of IT metrics that directly impact the business goals.
Now, more than ever, IT can positively impact how satisfied customers are with a product or service, directly or indirectly. CIOs should be the ones to suggest new IT initiatives that will improve customer experiences. The customer satisfaction metric measures the positive impact of IT initiatives on customer satisfaction.
The employee engagement metric measures the number of employees who feel empowered to complete purposeful activities related to their job each day. As a leader, CIOs should always understand how engaged their employees are. Engagement comprises three types of drivers: organizational, job, and retention. CIOs have a direct impact on all three.
The business leadership relationship metric measures a CIO's ability to influence business decisions with trusted partners. CIOs that have established relationships with influential executive leaders, like chief revenue officers or marketing officers, are more likely to have their IT team recognized by other executive leaders. This builds the value of IT.
Every CIO should see their IT function as a business, and the ability to control costs and spend within a defined budget is critical to building trust with the business and increasing the value of IT. The budget management metric measures the proportion of the IT budget that is strategic versus operational.
By harnessing the value of data from the right metrics, CIOs are more likely to increase the performance of their IT department, have better insights to make better decisions, and be seen as leaders by the business and its executive leadership team.
For more information and insights on the research methodology, download the complete Key Metrics for Every CIO blueprint.