If you're about to explain your work and your value to senior management or the board, you may want to think about what you did for your company and your company's customers. If you think about servers, uptime and how many e-mail messages your team has managed, your audience probably won't be moved. Saving money might impress the CFO and CEO, but there's a limit, and it doesn't mean much to those trying to build your product or deliver your service.
So, what matters when you're touting your achievements? The answer depends on two viewpoints: that of your audience and the ones implied in your achievements.
You have many constituents, and it should come as no surprise that different constituencies have different needs and measures of value. Some audiences you might consider are the board, the CEO, the CFO, your peers in engineering, marketing, sales, service, manufacturing, and HR, and maybe even your company's distributors and customers.
So if you're going to tell constituents about IT's accomplishments, make sure your message won't fall on deaf ears: Know their viewpoint.
For the other dimension, let's take a clue from the balanced scorecard-approach to strategy. Strategic objectives, each with their own metrics, fall into one of four perspectives (viewpoints): financial benefit, customer benefit, critical processes and capability. Achievements in these categories may not resonate with all audiences--or any, for that matter. So let's examine your achievements, how they fit into these perspectives, and how these perspectives resonate by audience.