The secret to getting better at anything - whether it be playing a sport, perfecting a craft or running a business - is knowledge. Having the right knowledge and information is what allows you to continuously improve and grow.
But what counts as ‘the right knowledge’ or the 'right' information? That’s where metrics come in.
Jeff Bladt and Bob Filbin use the analogy of baseball to explain the importance and relevance of metrics to businesses:
'Take baseball. Every team has the same definition of success — winning the World Series. This requires one main asset: good players. But what makes a player good?
In baseball, teams used to answer this question with a handful of simple metrics like batting average and runs batted in (RBIs). Then came the statisticians (remember Moneyball?). New metrics provided teams with the ability to slice their data in new ways, find better ways of defining good players, and thus win more games.'
When it comes to running a small business and managing IT costs, tracking the right metrics and benchmarking your IT is the key to driving efficiency and productivity. Using data you already have, you can make more intelligent decisions about your IT and find better ways to manage costs while growing your business and giving your staff the technology they need.
If you don’t already know, metrics are basically numbers that tell you important information about something. Examples of common metrics include:
On their own, most metrics won’t tell you much about your business. But when viewed together as part of a bigger picture, they can be extremely powerful. They’re extremely powerful when analysed as part of a bigger picture than as discrete points of data.
Your IT is critical to the growth and performance of your business. Tracking IT benchmarking metrics, therefore, is an important part of analysing the IT activities that are working (or aren’t working) so that you can continuously improve.
In particular, tracking IT benchmarking metrics will help you:
Beyond performance, measuring your IT department’s contribution to your business is a positive step towards raising its profile with your stakeholders and in the boardroom. With a handful of metrics at your disposal, you can demonstrate to anyone - potential investors, clients, and other stakeholders - exactly what the IT brings to the business, and lay the groundwork for increased IT investment or a new IT strategy.
'Good metrics,' Bladt and Filbin say 'have three key attributes: their data are consistent, cheap and quick to collect.'
Your IT benchmarking metrics should be easy to collect, and they should align with your broader business goals. There is no point in tracking something that doesn’t benefit the entire business, relates to a single event, or that you can’t use to paint a picture of how the business is performing over all.
When identifying IT benchmarking metrics to track, ask yourself:
If you answer ‘yes’ to these questions, then you have a valuable IT benchmarking metric that’s worth tracking.
Here are some valuable IT benchmarking metrics that we recommend tracking.
Remember, your IT department doesn’t exist in a vacuum. There are ways to view the impact that it has on your business as a whole. By tracking IT benchmarking metrics, you can start to improve and empower your business’s IT and use it as a platform for improving processes, productivity and eventually revenue. With the right information there is no telling what your business could do.