A common concern I hear from IT executives is that they are not getting the project or resource information they need. Sometimes, when asked what their reporting requirements are, they are not sure what to focus on. Even worse, sometimes there is so much data produced through project and operational processes that the CIO is overwhelmed by minutiae and conflicting information.
Here are three resource or project-related measures that can provide a starting point for a metrics program:
1) The relative percentage and costs of actual effort spent by IT resources working across three standard work categories – operations (“keep the lights running”), service requests or “small” changes and projects (tactical or strategic). This data can be accurately captured if the staff track their time, but if not, at least have the functional managers estimate utilization and apply blended rates to calculate costs. The benefit of this measure is that it enables benchmarking against similar organizations in your industry. It also provides a cost for supporting the “base asset” which can facilitate decision making regarding upgrades, replacements and technology standards.
2) Actual return compared with expected return on completed projects. To keep things simple, set a deadline of one year after projects have completed to be used as the measurement period. Hopefully your organization has a governance model in place that requires project requestors to quantify expected business value – if so, then you should also ensure that projects are responsible for delivering the measurement capabilities to capture actual benefits. Even if you are unable to quantify the actual vs. expected values using hard dollars, you can start simple – score projects based on the degree to which they met expected business objectives, and calculate an aggregate score for each year and divide that by the maximum score for the year. This metric can start to identify causes for poor returns – project delivery issues (e.g. cost or schedule overruns) or project intake issues (e.g. over-inflated business cases) which in turn can help you focus improvement efforts where you will get the best results.
3) How “busy” is your department? Give yourself one point for every staff member or team that is at or near 100% utilization. Take away one point for every staff member or team that is either more than 15% underutilized or more than 15% overworked. Divide this score by the best possible score to get a percentage for optimal utilization. The value of this metric is to highlight not only overallocations but also underallocations – both situations are undesirable as they both represent the department is not getting optimal “bang for the buck”.
Using these three measures a CIO can answer the questions:
1. Are we working on the “right” things?
2. Are we delivering value?
3. Are we fully utilizing our staff?