Managing the Performance of Your IT System
Performance management of IT systems isn’t all that different from regular performance management. In either case, the purpose is not just to make things run well, but also to satisfy the business’s objectives. If you don’t understand what your enterprise’s needs are, then it goes without saying that the system you design and implement — regardless of its technical sophistication — probably won’t meet the needs of your organization.
Effective performance management flows from three pillars, or what I call the Triad As (patent pending!):
- Alignment: The system must line up with the organization in terms of size, scale, cost and complexity.
- Availability: Downtime for the system must be as brief and infrequent as possible.
- Accessibility: The system should be as user-friendly and effortless as possible for employees.
Together, all of these factors combine to make for a high-performance IT system. But how do you ensure all of these requisites are met?
For one thing, IT professionals should work closely with business leaders to determine what the organizational goals are and then devise a concept of operations. The point is to codify the system characteristics that meet the needs of various business units and end users. The tricky part is defining the purposes and qualities of the IT system closely enough to establish a clear plan, yet leave the language vague enough to retain some flexibility in development, rollout and maintenance.
Also, some baseline for system performance should be set in terms of overall availability and accessibility and other peripheral factors. Here, a reliable system of monitoring and measuring is crucial. Assess the efficacy of your system performance management strategy with metrics around end-user complaints and compliments, downtime, security breaches and so forth. If you’re implementing an IT system, be sure to track expenditures and work accomplished against deadlines.
Once metrics have been compiled, IT staff should periodically meet to go over reports on these statistics. The numbers can be used to identify successes and problems, and the people in the meeting should brainstorm solutions to those problems. Additionally, a platform for constant communication and collaboration among technical professionals should be put into place so that they can discuss all of the issues with the system in real time.
Finally, be sure that your overall system performance management plan takes as long and as broad a view as possible. Study the industry your organization is in and the companies it competes against. Carefully examine the technology market to ensure your system won’t be doomed to obsolescence in a couple of years. Take a close look at your enterprise’s business plan and workflows, and make certain that these won’t change drastically and leave your system in the dust. Remember that the system should sustain the business, regardless of what direction it goes in. If it isn’t supporting organizational performance, then you need a new performance management strategy to underpin the system.