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Two distinct but related IT management best practices—user-satisfaction surveys and IT performance metrics—are either growing slightly or remaining at a consistent level. But in both cases, many companies could use some help in practicing these two disciplines formally and consistently.
The benefits can be significant. A periodic survey of user satisfaction is one way to measure how well an IT organization is delivering services, resolving issues, and managing perceptions. If user satisfaction is falling, it may mean that the service desk is understaffed or change requests are not being accommodated. At the same time, collecting performance metrics and KPIs (key performance indicators) on service levels can be useful for tracking and monitoring performance in a service organization. In theory, IT managers can build trust with clients and motivate employees to focus on specific goals, as defined by the performance metrics.
As shown in Figure 3 from our full report, User-Satisfaction Surveys and IT Performance Metrics Adoption and Best Practices, 14% of IT organizations survey users informally, 24% conduct surveys formally but inconsistently, and only 29% do so formally and consistently (the maturity level). Another 25% report no activity with this best practice.
What do we mean by a user-satisfaction survey in a corporate setting? These kinds of user surveys are most relevant when they are conducted in the context of an IT strategy. For example, if the organization’s IT strategy is to provide a competitive advantage for the business, surveys should assess how well users think the IT organization is meeting that goal. In contrast, if the IT strategy is for IT to be more of a utility function, the survey effort should focus on how well the IT organization provides a reliable service.
What are IT performance metrics? Metrics and KPIs put IT initiatives into context and are vital for fact-based decision-making. Without IT performance metrics, companies will make decisions based on gut instinct, the hottest new tech trend, or feedback from those users who complain the most. Metrics are important for establishing goals, developing strategic plans, and benchmarking against industry peers.
“Not enough companies realize that consistently surveying users can provide valuable insight into how well the IT organization is doing,” said Tom Dunlap, director of research for Computer Economics, an IT analyst firm based in Irvine, Calif. “The same is true with IT performance metrics. It’s a best practice with a decent adoption rate among the companies we survey, but not enough IT leaders understand that metrics fill a vital role in achieving goals. They hold the IT organization accountable—managers can crack the whip if goals are not being met.”
The choice of which IT performance metrics to track is an important one, and no two organizations have the same needs. Just two of many categories of metrics are:
IT financial metrics, such as IT spending as a percentage of revenue, IT spending per user, and any number of other financial metrics published in our annual IT Spending and Staffing Benchmarks study.
IT staff metrics, such as attrition rate, number of unfilled positions, as well as various productivity metrics, such as tickets per help desk staff member, servers per data center staff member, and other unit metrics from our annual IT Spending and Staffing Benchmarks study.