As important as defining goals is defining how they will be measured and reported -- specifically the processes, roles and responsibilities for IT business office functions. Whether you have established a formal business office or are simply introducing business office practices into your organization, you must define the organizational structure that will be established to capture and report on the metrics that demonstrate IT value delivery.
It is important to be pragmatic in this effort. The business office function will fail if it requires a large bureaucracy or expensive custom reporting. In some cases, close proxies may need to be used for metrics that are difficult to capture and quantify. For example, let's say your goal is to increase the adoption of an improved systems-development lifecycle process. It would be hard to measure the adoption directly, other than by observing the actions of a large team of people. However, you can measure the indicators of success, such as the number of emergency bug fixes, which would be reduced if team members follow a rigorous development process.
It can be a challenge to gather information and produce reports on a regular basis without incurring major repeated costs or business interruptions. Efficiency, repeatability, and speed to implementation are important to Fannie Mae's Boillat: "We found we lacked the infrastructure we needed to automate gathering the metrics, so we had to start off with fairly basic measurements," he says. "The lesson here is not to wait for the perfect reporting systems. Start with what you can and make it an iterative process."
It's best to automate as much of the reporting process as possible. Means of automation would include direct reporting from financial systems or creating purpose-built data stores to capture relevant IT business operations data. Similarly, automating workflows with business process management tools will enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the process.
This article was originally published on 11-02-2011