Businesses have become unnecessarily obsessed with benchmarking and measuring IT because of the boardroom focus on corporate governance, according to some IT directors.

Half of’s 12-man CIO Jury user panel said there is now too much focus on performance metrics and measurement simply for measurement’s sake.

Ian Auger, IT director at ITN, said: “The knock-on for having the measurement and accountability is the need for additional resource to ensure that everything is properly updated, tracked and reported. Also if your business model has to change rapidly to respond to external events, many of the normal working rules and practices go out of the window, rendering many measurements invalid.”

In financial services the amount of regulatory red tape is one of the key drivers behind the increasing focus on IT governance.

Graham Yellowley, director of technology at Mitsubishi UFJ Securities International, said: “The proliferation of measurements and performance metrics is becoming more important, particularly in relation to Sarbanes-Oxley.”

Benchmarking and metrics are also nothing new for IT directors and CIOs in government and local authorities. Rob Neil, head of ICT at Ashford Borough Council, said: “The public sector’s been unnecessarily obsessed with it for years.”

Other IT bosses say that because IT is a major cost for most businesses it is only right that it should be subject to close scrutiny but Russell Altendorff, director of IS at the London Business School, said the focus needs to be on getting the right metrics.

He said: “Businesses should be measuring in more insightful ways – too many measurements are made because they can be, such as number of servers or staff, ratios of IT staff to users, or return on investment.”

Rorie Devine, IS director at Betfair, agreed: “A common mistake is to focus on IT metrics when business metrics would be more appropriate. For example, the availability metric of one system in a multi-system end-to-end process is meaningless. The availability of the business process it undertakes is important.”

Chris Broad, head of information systems and technology at the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA), said: “The old adage that if you can’t measure it you can’t manage it still applies.”

Today’s CIO Jury was…

Russell Altendorff, director of IS, London Business School
Ian Auger, IT director, ITN
Alastair Behenna, CIO, Harvey Nash
Les Boggia, IT division head, Carole Nash Insurance
Chris Broad, head of IS&T, UKAEA
Rorie Devine, IS director, Betfair
Steve Fountain, IT director, Markel International
Adrian Hughes, head of IS, Amlin
John Keeling, director of computer services, John Lewis
Rob Neil, head of ICT, Ashford Borough Council
Peter Ryder, head of ICT, Preston City Council
Graham Yellowley, director of technology, Mitsubishi UFJ Securities International

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