Measuring performance is a critical strategy for IT managers who want senior management to understand and appreciate the contributions made by the IT department to the company bottom line. In previous articles, I focused on tracking and measuring the progress of your IT department, as a whole, and how to measure the progress of individual projects. In this article, we’ll focus on ways to measure performance by members of your IT team.

IT managers should track several quantitative performance measurements for each member of the IT team. These include:

  • Productivity
  • Quality
  • Communication
  • Client service
  • Teamwork
  • IT policies and procedures
  • Training and education

Every employee performance review I deliver includes elements from each of these categories.

Certain jobs are more difficult to measure than others, but none are impossible to quantify if you plan properly and work toward putting the necessary processes in place. Let’s take the quality performance measurement as an example. You can gauge the quality level of your programming staff easily by tracking the number of errors encountered along the programming change process.

Typically, a software change-management process follows the stages shown in Figure A:

Figure A

If your company lacks sophisticated tools to track and measure the change-management process, you can use the chart above to keep a simple count of quality issues. Just add “1” to the appropriate box for a project when an error is encountered. For example, errors discovered in IT Quality Assurance (QA) reflect on programming, design, or requirements definition. Reviewing the numbers after several projects are completed will point out trends that can help you identify staff members who need help.

More on tracking performance

I have used this approach to improve my organization’s programming quality, as well as productivity. The really neat part of using a measurement tool like this is that it begins to point out the value of taking the time to properly QA programming changes. Initially, many of your staff might believe that the perceived “extra steps” of QA reduces productivity. When you show them the programming production numbers and this quality measurement spreadsheet, they begin to understand the value of doing the job right the first time.

Other IT measurements that are helpful include:

  • Help desk support calls.
  • Support calls by key category.
  • Average response time to problem resolution.
  • Billable hours percentage for billable resources.
  • Programming productivity.
  • Programming backlog.
  • Programming requests by client.
  • System downtime or unavailability statistics.
  • Number of users per support resource (help desk, desktop support, etc.).

Any number of variations or additional measurements can help you refine your operation and achieve more as a result. The point is that the adage, “What gets measured gets worked on” is very true. Measurements are valuable if the individual or team knows that the information is used to help rather than to criticize or punish. When performance measurements are properly implemented, team members will begin reinforcing the need for performance measurements and will be eager to see the results, especially when they are improving. You only achieve employee commitment when they trust that you use the information in a positive, constructive manner.

Measurements are of no value unless you share them. When shared with your employees, measurements can provide a motivation to do a better job and to remain focused. Employees also enjoy the fact that their efforts are being reflected in position performance numbers. Share meaningful results with your senior management team and you will be valued as a manager who has a deeper understanding of the IT business and the critical role IT plays in a company’s success.

Mike Sisco is a former CIO and current president of MDE Enterprises, an IT management training and consulting company in Atlanta. More of his management approach and experiences are available through the IT Manager Development Series, a set of 10 publications devoted to increasing IT management effectiveness.