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Taking small steps today on the IT performance management journey


Recently, I shared with you seven key performance indicators that are important for any IT department to track, measure, and analyze if they want to truly perform better and show their value to the business.  However, as I continue talking with customers , I find there are two common confusions about performance management.

babysteps.jpgThe first is about when an organization should start their performance management journey; and the second is just because a scorecard supports a measure should I start measure it today? My message to you is simple. Start your performance management journey today, but take small, concrete steps that will improve your businesses performance.


 Let me provide some color. Recently, I visited a major European retailer.


What comes first—strategy or execution?

The head of IT strategy told me that their CIO told his business customers that “his organization would never talk strategy if they could not show they could deliver first.” I don’t know about you, but this seemed a bit odd to me.  After all, don’t we normally start by creating a strategy and then execute or deliver upon that strategy?  Not so, said this executive. “You need to show the first level of efficient control and then strategy can happen for the IT organization.” Given that they have now established efficient control, he said they are ready to talk about an IT Scorecard and the KPIs that will populate it.


While I understand this position, I think it misses the point of having a strategy and measurement system. I believe you should start with a simple strategy such as improving service delivery or reducing service time and then use performance management to help you measure your programs.  In this example, I recommend that the strategy is simply to achieve efficient IT control and the measures would be those that demonstrate that control.   


At another company, the VP of Ops got mad after I showed him all the things that the HP Executive Scorecard pulls data from and all the various KPIs that the Executive Scorecard can track. He asked instead that I help him solve the issues he is having with the systems that he has in place today. This customer was right and  it caused me to change how I now talk about performance management. Instead of discussing what we connect to, I now begin my customer visits by talking about performance improvement journeys and how to start small and build from there.


Start with one or two KPIs

For example, you can begin by looking at what IT disciplines you have in place today and what are one or two KPIs that you can measure toward business improvement. If you have change management in place, for example, you can set a strategy to improve the success rate of changes or the percentage of emergency changes. However, if only incident management is place, you should pick something like “Incident Escalation Rate,” “Incident Reopens” and “Incident Aging.” Each of these measures something specific in IT that can be improved within the incident process that has a direct effect on customers and users. And of course, best practices provide great recommendations.


So start your performance management journey today, but take small, concrete steps that will improve your performance. This means defining a strategy that is relevant to your current level of maturity. It also means picking just a couple KPIs to measure and improve against—and then build from there.


Related links:

Blog:  The Magnificent Seven: Key KPIs to help IT perform better

Feature:  Peak performance demands precision control

Solution Brief: IT Performance Suite



About the Author


Mr. Suer is a senior manager for IT Performance Management. Prior to this role, Mr. Suer headed IT Performance Management Analytics Product Management including IT Financial Management and Executive Scorecard.




I do agree that it is difficult to fix what you cannot measure.  I also agree that some sort of strategy should be put in place even if it is very high level.  Everytime I join a new organization my strategy is Transform, Run, Grow.  First I must transform the current staff, processes and technology to meet the basic service needs of the organization.  Secondly I start to create a high performing process driven organization to help the business run efficiently. Thirdly I start to work with the business on growth areas and how IT can help enable their business units.


You do need to start at version 1 and then start to move on to version 2, 3 and 4 with continuous improvement methodologies.


Great article and worth the read.




Thank you for the kind and astute words.



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