In part 1 of this series I asked the question, "Are you running IT like it's your business?" Then I highlighted five barriers for preventing IT leaders from being able to transform their IT shop into a well oiled, cost effective machine?
- Resistance to change
- Lack of resources (time, money, and human capital)
- Lack of tools
- Lack of metrics
- Lack of process
Many IT shops are stuck in maintenance mode and live the life of fire fighting and working hard instead of working smart. These shops struggle to meet the demands of the business and spend most of their time and money keeping the lights on. The business is reluctant to release more funds to IT to fix their issues because they don't see the value that they are getting for their current spend in IT. Your CEO is telling you to do more with less and you are asking for more resources to stay afloat. What gives?
I have heard the grumbling within IT wondering why the business "doesn't get it" or why "they can't see that we need resources". The business has a full time job and expects IT to do their job. They don't have the time to sympathize with IT because they have their own battles to fight. What you have to do to get their attention is to tell a meaningful story that is based on facts (metrics) and discussed in business terms (dollars). So before spending another day complaining about the current state of affairs, start brainstorming about what metrics you should be collecting to allow yourself to paint a picture for the business.
Metrics can be used a couple of ways. First of all, I am not a big fan of coming up with metrics to try to measure the productivity of developers (function points, lines of code, etc.). These types of measurements do more harm then good. I am not looking for metrics that show a distrust in your teams ability to do their jobs. I am looking for metrics that can capture opportunities to make improvements in the enterprise. Tracking where time is being spent can be a valuable exercise. You should know how much time you are spending on product support and maintenance and put plans in place to reduce these numbers by some percentage each year. You should also measure defect types and severity by application so you can put task forces in motion to improve the problem areas. If you ever want to get out of support hell, you must be proactive.
If the business does not think that IT is providing value, you can use metrics to show them otherwise. Metrics about availability and uptime, SLAs, change requests implemented, money saved due to process or performance improvements, and many others can highlight the things that IT brings to the table. Create executive level dashboards that sell the value of IT real time. One of IT's biggest faults is that IT rarely celebrates its success stories. IT falls victim to the "what have you done for me lately" routine. If you got it, flaunt it!
Once you have your metrics in place, you can start the long journey of continuous improvement. Attack your top problem areas and tie your metrics to dollars. The business listens and understands money. They typically don't listen to or understand technology. When you do need to go to the well to ask for resources, you should have plenty of facts that you can tie to dollars to sell your story. Despite some of the griping within the gallows of IT, the business is not blind. IT has just never provided them with enough data to see the light.