The Five IT Metrics That Matter The Most In Today's Climate

You must report on the right metrics to defuse the explosive combination of budget pressures and business expectations. 

In April 2008, Forrester published the report “The Five Essential Metrics for Managing IT”  This has become one of our most popular docs in terms of readership and reader feedback.  Principal Analyst Craig Symons lays out 5 IT metrics that are extremely relevant to IT’s business stakeholders:  investment alignment to business strategy, business value of IT investments, IT budget balance, service level excellence, and operational excellence.

Why are we bringing your attention to this report now? Because business execs are trimming capital and operational budgets wherever they think it will have the least impact on business, and IT is a prime target.  Because of a lack of transparency in many IT shops, the tension between IT budget cuts, and business expectations for technology are fraught with risk for CIOs and other IT execs.  The risk is that cuts in IT’s budget are seen by the CIO’s peers as “IT’s problem to solve” – but these same business peers will see cuts in project delivery or IT service levels as yet more proof that the CIO’s organization isn’t capable of supporting their needs.  Look at what these business execs were saying in July of 2008 – and this is before the budget pressure was on. 


The only way CIOs can turn this tension to their advantage lies in what metrics for IT they use in discussions with their business peers.

The 5 essential IT metrics bring these tensions out in the open, by:

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Vendor dealings: Spot the dollars on your way to finding those pennies.

Here’s another follow-up post to the recent jam session on using a down economy as the impetus for making lasting improvements in IT.


One of our calls involved three analysts from the sourcing and vendor management community – John McCarthy, Duncan Jones, and Paul Roehrig – and took on the topic of vendor relationships in software and services, where 82% of our attendees said that the economy is indeed forcing them to put more pressure on IT suppliers. The call’s tone was this: Flogging vendors only hurts the quality of the product or service you receive and bruises relationships. Remember, vendors are in the same economic boat as you.

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Defining Lean

We recently held a “jam session” of five teleconferences aimed at moving IT beyond its traditional hunker down mentality in tough times, to instead use this climate as an opportunity to make real improvements in how we run IT.


The first call took on the topic of creating a leaner IT. There’s plenty of research at Forrester on lean thinking, but the term lean is so “in” right now, that I’m seeing multiple definitions emerge. Odds are, someone outside of IT will come knocking on your door asking when you’re going to “get lean.”  Here’s how to answer.

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Can IT excel in a tough economy? Yes, start with a one-pager.

Last week we conducted an experiment of sorts – a “jam session” of five teleconferences, each involving a panel of Forrester analysts.  The tone of each call was to get beyond a “hunker down” mentality and to use this climate as an opportunity to make lasting improvements to how we run IT.


Seventeen analysts in all took part, addressing topics of lean IT, value and vendor management, innovation, and improved communications – topics of particular interest in this economy and what’s sure to be a period of tighter IT budgets.

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Extranet Collaboration Platforms. Coming Soon, But Then There's That Pesky Many-To-Many Problem

Tedschadler by Ted Schadler

In our conversations with many information and knowledge management professionals, it's clear that their distributed and multicompany teams need better extranet collaboration tools.

And they feel the problem is only getting worse as companies go virtual, global, distributed, outsourced, green, travel-less, and partnered, thus driving the need for ever-better collaboration tools that work outside the firewall.

Trouble is, the messaging and collaboration services that  companies have implemented are designed primarily for internal teams.

For example, it's bloody difficult to set up a secure instant messaging connection with every partner you might want to work with. Such interoperability between IM platforms is technically possible, but operationally nightmarish.

So clever employees do what they must: Use public IM and calendaring services, cobble together conferences from piece parts, and fall back on endless scheduling and sharing emails and voice conferencing. Ugh. Ugly. And scary.

Well, the solution's just around the corner say vendors new and old. After all, many are on the cusp of major product releases that promise much better extranet connections and capabilities:

  • IBM Bluehouse promises a new extranet collaboration platform.
  • Google already offers an extranet collaboration toolkit in its Google Apps Premier Edition.
  • Cisco is adding extranet collaboration capabilities to WebEx.
  • Microsoft is moving its services into the cloud for easier extranet access.
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Forrester Week Of Jam Sessions

Forrester wants to help you get beyond the usual suspects of simply "doing less with less" in tough economic times.

Forrester will conduct a series of five, 60-minute teleconferences, one on each day of the week. The goal of this week-long "jam session" is to help you deal with what's likely to be tightening IT budgets in your organization. Each teleconference takes on a particular topic of interest to multiple IT disciplines, involves a panel discussion of analysts, and provides clients with creative tactics for not just coping but thriving within today's fiscal constraints. Sign up for any or all of the sessions:

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