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Decision Brief

Focus on a Balanced Portfolio of Metrics for Cloud Computing

Hank Marquis, Global Knowledge Practice Director, Cloud Solutions


What are the key IT metrics IT leaders should focus on for cloud computing, and why?


IT organizations invest significant resources into measuring and influencing key IT behaviors in order to meet their goals. Today, with cloud computing, many key IT metrics are not aligned to the business goals of the customers they serve, incenting the wrong behavior in IT.


IT organizations now understand that IT metrics can shape customer experience, and most realize that “what gets measured gets done.” Unfortunately, not all have rebalanced their portfolio of key IT metrics in response to changing business preferences, putting IT cloud initiatives at risk.Focusing on qualitative customer metrics aligned to business-defined critical success factors (CSF) builds rapport with, and demonstrates value to, your business; focusing on quantitative metrics like up-time or availability does not. Focusing on a balance of satisfaction and activity metrics optimizes the productivity and effectiveness of the IT and its cloud initiatives, meeting your business’s goals.

IT leaders should consider a balanced portfolio approach to key IT metrics for cloud computing that is aligned to business goals and communicates the value of the IT’s role, not its activities. IT leaders should favor satisfaction measures (employee and customer satisfaction, business value) as key customer-facing metrics; presenting prepackaged IT activity reports to customers may be counter-productive as it seldom shows IT or cloud computing’s value. Not only should IT leaders rebalance their mix of key IT metrics, and focus business-facing metrics on satisfaction and value, but they must also monitor shifting business preferences and changing customer demographics; developing metrics-driven approaches that adapt as the business responds to market conditions. Visible and continued value contribution is critical for ongoing business funding of IT.

What You Need to Know:

IT organizations have learned how to influence IT performance through metrics. Most IT leaders now have a hard-won understanding of the old adage that “what gets measured gets done” and its corollary “you can’t manage what you don’t measure.” Still, IT often reports on operational level activities via quantitative metrics. IT leaders know that metrics drive performance, but many IT leaders are neither rebalancing their metrics portfolio nor crafting a balanced portfolio of IT metrics to drive business-aligned behaviors accordingly. IT should monitor performance against specific critical success factors (CSF) of business goals, not operational IT goals.

  • There are two primary groups of metrics IT leaders can choose from in this situation: satisfaction (qualitative) and activity (quantitative.) The correct balance of these two groups is essential to creating and demonstrating business value. Focusing on a mix of satisfaction (employee, customer and business) and activity (IT efficiency and effectiveness) metrics drives more business-aligned reporting.
  • Satisfaction metrics are qualitative. They are subjective, and show how users and customers perceive or “feel about” their IT and cloud computing experience. Focusing on these metrics tends to build awareness and rapport with your business partners, increasing the perceived value of IT by your business peers.
  • Activity metrics are quantitative, objectively counting measures of productivity and effectiveness. Common examples of activity metrics include uptime and availability. While several of these metrics are critical to managing the IT function, they should only be provided to customers if they pertain directly to a business CSF.

What You Need to Do:

You must create a balanced portfolio of cloud service metrics covering satisfaction (subjective and qualitative) and activity (objective and quantitative) that together reflect your unique situational requirements and defined business goals. You should choose metrics that show IT and end-user productivity as well as progress towards established, published and important business CSFs.

  • If you are not promoting customer satisfaction and business perception of IT value as key business metrics, check for the need to prepare for the influx of personal device usage in the workplace — including managing growing workforce expectations around mobility and the ability to use any device or application anytime, anywhere. Satisfaction with IT’s ability to support significant volumes and types of personally owned consumer technology and services require a metrics portfolio rebalance. Make sure you’re prepared.
  • If you are unfamiliar with diagnostic customer satisfaction metrics, consider learning about those best practices used in service marketing science such as SERVQUAL, which can help you understand customer expectations for service. SERVQUAL measures desired service level as well as perceived service levels. The difference between desired and perception is satisfaction. SERVQUAL is diagnostic: within a satisfaction score, it can indicate which of five core service experience dimensions require improvement, improving utility over homemade customer satisfaction approaches.
  • If there are issues with tying IT activities to business CSFs, as there often are, consider using a process like GQM. Metrics that flow from business goals that have defined CSFs make the best key performance indicators (KPI) for IT metrics. The GQM method can help IT leaders establish links from business goals to IT metrics quickly and accurately.

Regardless of the exact mix of activity and engagement metrics, what gets measured and actively managed is what gets done. This means you must consider very carefully and precisely what you want IT and your cloud computing initiatives to do for your business. Ensure your cloud metrics balance satisfaction and activity and that they all monitor business CSFs. Finally, make sure your direction is SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-related.

Learn More:

For more information about how our training solutions can improve productivity, enhance efficiency, and sharpen your competitive edge, visit our Organizational Solutions page. Contact a Global Knowledge business transformation services consultant at 1-888-422-8149, or email