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Aligning IT with business starts with an understanding of what is important to the business, and then ensuring IT services are designed to support and even enable these initiatives. The best way to manage this process is to first measure performance quantitatively and in terms the business can relate to, and then improve on this baseline over time. Therefore it is important that the right metrics be considered when creating and measuring IT and business alignment.

It goes without saying that metrics must be defined by what is measurable. IT organizations traditionally have succeeded in accurately and efficiently measuring information such as packets per second, server and network availability, time-on-hold, mean-time-to-repair, and measured by these criteria alone they will often receive high marks.

However, improving those metrics, while important, may do very little to ensure the business operates more productively. Simply measuring how quickly issues are resolved provides no incentive to prevent the problem from happening in the first place, which would obviously be more beneficial to the business. Relying on individual component technical measurements, such as server or network performance, does not ensure application availability, which is likely more critical for business success.

Additionally, these types of metrics may be misunderstood, or not understood at all, by the business. When IT says it is going to ensure server availability to five nines the business may assume that means service availability. When the CRM service goes down, but the server is still running, there can be a lot of frustration all around. Conversely, just using business metrics, such as revenue per employee, time-per-call, or cost per incident, does not translate well into a set of applicable metrics for IT.

Clearly what is needed is a complete and objective set of metrics that truly measures what is important to the business and what is achievable by the IT organization, and avoids the finger pointing and mistrust that occurs when there is a service issue or outage.

To accomplish this, IT also needs to be in tune and aligned with the end-user. Since the business is driven by the productivity and performance of its workers, it follows that a set of metrics collected as close to the end-user as possible needs to be included. The end-user experience defined in an objective set of performance metrics, especially for those using mission-critical applications, is the best measure of IT business alignment and has the most impact on the business.


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