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Why keeping score in baseball and IT is more than a single-inning affair!


Last week, I was talking with a consultant at a strategic integration and consulting company. He asked me a simple question: “How are operational reports from tools like HP Business Availability Center (BAC)—think single-inning baseball—different from a business IT scorecard?” Initially, I thought to myself, “What a stupid question aboutBAC”—but after thinking about it, I realized our customers might be asking the same question.

I pondered for a bit afterward, wondering where I should start my answer to his (and, perhaps, your) question. I decided to start by explaining that senior IT leaders do not use transactionally oriented products. For this reason, they are left to kluge together data from different operational reports or to instruct staffs to focus on data amalgamation. This means that the information they use is largely done through manual pulls of data. However, senior IT leaders need current data in order to manage effectively.


According to Derek F. Abell, a professor, research coordinator and author of Managing with Dual Strategies, “Control is different than ‘reporting,’ in that it implies the possibility for management intervention if things go out of control. Control implies feedback in which management is actively involved. Reporting, on the contrary, is passive. For control to be effective, therefore, data must be timely and provided at intervals that are effective for intervention.” So, put simply, senior managers in IT need cross-dimensional data in period to manage to their and their team’s goals. How do you manage or lead without current data?


Just as important, it is time for IT organizations to demonstrate concrete improvement. How many IT organizations can say they have truly accomplished demonstrable enhancements over the past few years? The below framework shows that IT organizations need to set improvement goals in order to be the real drivers of their ships.


Deming.pngBut I want to suggest here that IT organizations need to do one more thing well if they want to truly improve. They need to have a strategy along with well-dispersed responsibility and accountability for achieving each and every element of that strategy. Both ITIL and COBIT have endorsed the notion of using cascading balanced scorecards as a mechanism for doing this. In a balanced scorecard world, each IT leader is responsible and accountable for their piece of the IT pie. They need to ensure that they are driving their piece to goal. This means that integrative measurements must happen daily instead of quarterly. This does not discount the importance of operational reports. It just says that each and every IT leader has to have concrete improvement goals that they are managing toward and be able to say that they are (or aren’t) achieving those goals. This is core to keeping score in baseball and IT. It is core to the ideas shown in the movie Moneyball.


Related links:

4 keys to delivering true IT value

What every business leader should know about IT management

5 secrets every IT leader should know about being a successful broker of services

Solution page: HP Executive Scorecard

Twitter: @MylesSuer






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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.

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