Almost no company can function in today’s world without information technology (IT). From sole proprietorships to Fortune 500s, successful businesses require the right IT strategy and management to gain a competitive advantage and thrive.
But IT is complicated, and it can be hard to know if your IT department – whether it’s in-house, outsourced, or a combination of the two – is going in the right direction to support your company’s goals.
So, how do you cut through the complexity to see what’s working and what’s not?
The best way to determine if your IT is effective and positioned to scale is to watch the numbers. The first step in measuring the effectiveness of your IT team is to understand the day-to-day tasks that need to be done, then identify which KPIs (key performance indicators) or metrics you need to track.
By tracking the right IT KPIs and metrics, you’ll be able to see strengths and weaknesses and make decisions accordingly.
7 Most Important IT KPIs to Track
Which IT department KPIs should you be tracking? There are hundreds that you could track, but in our experience, there are 7 to start with that will help tell you if your IT is going in the right direction.
Information Technology (IT) Department KPIs
- Percentage of devices up to date
- Percentage of machines backed up on a daily (or hourly) basis
- Number of areas out of alignment with IT best practices
- IT strategy and architecture plans aligned with business strategy
- Projects completed on time and on budget
- Number of unresolved end-user issues
- Average time to resolution
1. Percentage of devices up to date
Hackers are constantly changing their tactics to stay one step ahead of the IT security procedures designed to stop them. This means that letting your guard down for even a single day can have massive ramifications for your company.
IT security used to be seen as a set-it-and-forget-it discipline – that’s not the case anymore. Today’s cyber security threats require active monitoring and management for every company IT endpoint. Any machine or device that is not up to date allows for a threat to penetrate your IT environment.
It’s essential for businesses – particularly those in industries like legal, financial, healthcare, and those working with the Department of Defense, where the vast majority of data processed is highly sensitive – to keep the software on every one of their network devices up-to-date.
To even have a chance at slowing down the threats, the IT department must manage the following each day:
- Patch management for every device (server, desktop, laptop, phone, tablet, etc.)
- Antivirus and antimalware updates
- Web filtering and web security detection
- Email security
- Spam software
- Firewall management
- Endpoint detection and response (EDR)
- Vulnerability scanning
- Multi-factor authentication
- Risk assessment
And many more.
Since we know that devices having current software is critical to security, then the IT security metric we’re going to track is: Percentage of devices up to date
The goal is for 100% of the devices on your company network to be secured with the latest updates.
2. Percentage of critical machines backed up on a daily (or hourly) basis
The saying “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” should be at the core of any IT strategy, and businesses ignore it at their peril. Even the most sophisticated IT networks are vulnerable without a comprehensive data backup and disaster recovery plan.
“Data disasters” can be caused by many different things – equipment failure, human error, cyber attacks, fires, floods, and natural disasters – and they can happen at any time. That’s why your IT department’s goal should be to backup corporate data frequently and ensure that it can be quickly recovered in the event of an incident.
It’s highly recommended that companies have more than one backup method as part of their overall disaster recovery and business continuity plan.
Onsite backups are good for quick restores, like accidental file deletion or corruption. Offsite backups take longer to run and are mainly used for larger-scale recovery jobs, such as equipment crashes, fires, floods, or natural disasters. These backups should be scheduled to run automatically and shouldn’t require any manual process (or human touching it) after the initial setup for them to run properly.
While the backups should run automatically, your IT team should verify daily (or more often depending on your backup process) that they ran successfully. They should also test the recoverability of the data at least once a month. This process is also known as a “test restore.”
When determining your backup, disaster recovery, and business continuity plans, your company’s leadership team is integral in working with the IT department to provide input on several disaster recovery factors:
- What’s the plan to bring everything back up in the event of a failure? Where is it documented?
- What’s the estimated downtime for various degrees of IT disasters?
- How long will it take to restore the data if need be? Is that time frame acceptable?
Since successfully recovering from a data incident is contingent on having a solid backup, the key backup metric we’re going to track is: Percentage of critical machines backed up on a daily (or hourly) basis
The goal is to have a recoverable backup of 100% of the critical machines on your company network. Data loss can strike at any time, so your backups need to be thorough and accessible at all times.
3. Number of areas out of alignment with IT best practices
Every business IT environment needs network administration. This function keeps your business technology running smoothly for day-to-day use.
The bits and bytes inside your business technology perform thousands of actions per second. Therefore, regular and proactive maintenance is necessary to ensure that these devices continue to do what they’re supposed to do.
These regularly scheduled network health checks ensure that your infrastructure is aligned with IT best practices. If they start to show signs of a problem, your IT team should look into it before it potentially becomes a more significant, downtime-causing issue.
Each item out of IT standard alignment poses a risk to your organization. Risks include equipment failure, data loss, productivity and efficiency hindrances, and potential roadblocks to future business changes and growth.
The key network administration metric you’ll want to track is: Number of areas out of alignment with IT best practices
Your IT provider should set clear expectations as to the best practices to track and work with executive management to remedy the areas that are out of alignment.
The goal is to have zero areas out of alignment with IT best practices.
4. IT strategy and architecture plans aligned with business strategy
IT strategy should be a top priority for executive leadership.
Once business objectives have been clearly defined, it’s time to work with your IT team to see how technology can help you achieve those goals. Along with that, you need to plan for events that impact IT, such as opening remote locations, implementing a new software application, or increasing staff.
Failure to plan for business growth can result in IT systems that substantially lag behind your business goals. This can create unnecessary delays and potentially erode the competitive advantage you might have otherwise had.
This is where IT consultants and technology architects typically come in. They’re experts at designing sustainable, scalable, long-term technology solutions for your business needs while staying within your allocated budget.
Technology planning should be performed quarterly and annually, with monthly check-ins to ensure everything is on track.
The IT strategy KPI we’re going to track is whether the strategy for the next 3-5 years has been documented, aligned with business strategy, and reviewed at least quarterly.
The goal is yes.
5. Projects completed on time and on budget
Strategy provides a clear framework for the way forward, but it's worthless without implementation.
IT projects should be identified during the technology planning process, then executed within your budget and timeline.
A common frustration executives have with IT projects is that they “never get done.” We’ve heard countless stories of businesses that have purchased equipment only to have it half-implemented, or worse – the boxes go untouched.
Having a project plan with a clear scope, objectives, timeline, and budget will help eliminate these frustrations and get the results you’re expecting – and you’ll be able to easily track progress.
The key IT project metric you’ll want to track is: Projects completed on time and on budget
The goal is to have 100% of projects completed on time and on budget, keeping in mind that sometimes things happen that are out of our control – supply chain issues, a vendor falls through, an internet outage, etc. What we’re looking for is to be on time and on budget for the things within our control.
6. Number of unresolved end-user issues
If your employees can’t work because of IT issues, business suffers. Productivity is hindered, customers are frustrated by delays, and it becomes challenging to hit company goals. When something isn’t working right, employees need help to get back to work quickly.
Even the best IT system will have challenges (and some end users will inevitably need more help than others). When that happens, your IT department needs to be able to respond and resolve issues efficiently and effectively.
One key help desk support metric you’ll want to track is: Number of unresolved end-user issues
The goal is zero unresolved end-user issues.
7. Average time to resolution
It’s not uncommon for the IT support team to quickly take care of the easy things and the items that executives have requested, but the difficult things remain unresolved. Or in some cases, there may not be an official process for tracking or handling support requests, so some requests may be unintentionally overlooked, whether they were a big deal or not.
That’s why another key help desk support metric to track is: Average time to resolution
The goal for your IT department will vary depending on the types and complexity of issues that come in. Aiming for an average 60-minute resolution time is typically a good starting point.
Paying attention to both support KPIs (number of unresolved end-user issues and average time to resolution) ensures your support team resolves all issues as efficiently as possible, keeping your employees happy and productive.
Want to learn more about how the right IT metrics can improve your Southern California business?
When these seven IT metrics are in alignment, they pave the way for IT solutions that further your business goals, enhance productivity, and deliver the results your clients expect and deserve.
If they’re not, you could find yourself frustrated with IT and wondering why things aren’t meeting your expectations. Not sure where to start with defining and tracking IT KPIs and metrics? Need help figuring out what to do if the numbers aren’t where you need them? We’re happy to help! Schedule a free consultation today with one of our Technology Advisors. You’ll chat through your IT situation and get recommendations for improvements you can use whether you choose to work with us in the future or not.
Editor's Note: This article was originally published in January 2018. It has been revamped and updated with the latest information.