How does IT add value to your company? If you’re like most business owners or executives, you may not know the answer. In fact, technology may seem like a low-value-added cost center. Sure, you need your servers, router, data centers, and general IT maintenance to keep the lights on, but what other benefits does technology provide? While understanding the business value of IT can be complex, technology can play a key role in growing your company.
IT has a direct impact on your team’s efficiency and effectiveness. This is because your team’s productivity is influenced by the applications and business technology they use. So how can you be sure whether technology helps or hinders your business? How do you know it improves the efficiency and effectiveness of your team?
If you’re responsible for ensuring that IT adds value to your business, then measuring your IT function is critical. Below are four steps you can take to measure, evaluate, and implement a roadmap to improve the business value of IT in your organization.
When measuring business technology performance, there are four areas to evaluate.
Your technology affects not only your IT department, but your entire company. If you have applications that boost productivity but staff don’t use them, then that technology provides your business no value. This is why it’s crucial to measure how well your employees utilize existing tools and technologies. Have staff been trained to use your applications? Do your technologies make employees more efficient and effective? Are your applications and systems properly maintained and managed? You’ll answer these questions when evaluating this area.
When it comes to the business value of information technology, overlooking cybersecurity can be easy. That’s because cybersecurity is preventative in nature. Just like eating healthy and exercising regularly can prevent a heart attack down the road, cybersecurity can stop a data breach early — before it causes a downtime emergency that shuts down your business for hours, days, or longer. When you evaluate your cybersecurity, you examine your company’s risk areas and how well or poorly you’ve been monitoring and mitigating these risks.
Similar to cybersecurity, this area is preventative. When you proactively protect your data, you better protect your business from the unexpected. In the event of a disaster, what processes will quickly re-establish access to your applications, data, and IT resources? What response times can you expect? How frequent must your backups be to ensure your critical data is available? When you measure this area, you evaluate how well business data is protected and what to expect in the event of data loss.
Your IT infrastructure is the foundation of your technology. When it operates smoothly, daily technology headaches transform into increased employee productivity. When it operates poorly, downtime and low staff morale become the norm. The IT performance measurement process in this area examines how well your IT platforms and infrastructure are managed, maintained, and improved and whether they help or hurt your staff’s productivity.
Now that you understand the areas that impact the business value of IT, take a quick self-assessment to see how your organization measures up. Answer the 10 questions below:
If you answered yes to eight or more of these questions, then your business technology is performing as expected. In this case, we recommend developing more specific, measurable tests for each of the four areas. Doing so enables you to better measure and report your technology performance moving forward.
Below are examples of processes, questions, and tests that Leverage IT uses when measuring the business value of IT for clients. They help us evaluate whether a business successfully utilizes their people, processes, and technology, and identify where potential gaps lie. If you perform this process yourself, note you’re not measuring IT value in a single department of your organization, but how well your entire company utilizes technology.
Once you’ve identified problem areas, your designated leader’s role is to create a roadmap to solutions — identifying the people, processes, and tools that will need to be improved.
The leader you choose to help with this process will collaborate with the entire business to implement your roadmap. Their role is to ensure consistent communication, review sessions, and collaboration so that all company departments continually work together toward improvement. We can’t stress this enough: improvements must be made to the entire company, not just the IT department. If the latter happens, the business value of IT in your company will stagnate, failing to produce any real ROI from your technology investment.