What are some common IT goals?
Gone are the days of passive and reactive IT departments. Today, IT resources are essential for any organization to efficiently operate and stay competitive. Think: Cloud services, enterprise software, hardware devices, and more.
This means you must go beyond simply maintaining infrastructure. You need a strategic IT plan that helps the organization meet broader goals — one that brings real value to internal and external customers. And you need to identify IT-specific goals and key performance indicators (KPIs) to benchmark your performance and track your progress.
Why are IT goals important?
Goals define what you want to achieve and the timeframe in which you want to achieve it. IT goals should support the vision and goals set at the company level. Your IT department's goals help you prioritize short- and long-term work and make decisions about where to invest time and money.
You can determine broad goals for the entire IT department or narrower goals for each IT team, such as the help desk or software development group.
Here is an example of how IT goals could relate back to a company-wide goal:
Cut operational costs by X percent this year
IT goal (department)
Reduce employee turnover by X percent
IT goal (data center)
Virtualize servers and storage to reduce power used by X percent
IT goal (software)
Automate X percent of regression tests
Of course, your IT goals will be unique to your organization and industry. IT goals generally fit into the following categories:
Automation and integration: To improve efficiency, productivity, and how tools and platforms work together
Business processes and communication: To improve workflows and collaboration
Data and information security: To provide access to and security of sensitive information
Data center: To modernize data center facilities and adopt cloud strategies
Infrastructure: To provide core infrastructure and operational elements for the organization, including hardware and software
Risk management: To identify threats and mitigate risks
Self-service: To empower teams and individuals to complete tasks without reaching out to IT
Software delivery: To improve release management processes, deployments, and quality assurance (QA)
When goals are defined, you can begin to build the initiatives or big themes of work required to help you achieve the goals. Initiatives are typically broken into phases (e.g., planning, architecture, building, deploying, and maintaining).
As you determine the initiatives you want to commit to, it is useful to estimate the value of each and the effort it will take to achieve it. The purpose of this exercise is to prioritize the initiatives that will bring the most value in concrete, measurable ways.
What are some common KPIs and metrics?
Almost everything in IT can be measured quantitatively — but the sheer volume of data can be overwhelming. If you attempt to track every data point possible, you will fall behind very quickly. And you will have a hard time weeding out the noise from the truly actionable insights.
This is why it is important to define KPIs, or the primary measurements you will use to monitor progress against your goals. Then, selectively identify other metrics to collect and report on.
Think of KPIs like health indicators — the most useful data to track for the health of each goal. KPIs will vary across teams based on individual goals. In general, IT teams tend to use a mix of the following:
Agile KPIs: Metrics that support lean processes, such as:
Lead time: The average time it takes to go from idea to delivery
Cycle time: The average time it takes to make and deliver a system or software change
Open/close rates: The average number of issues in production that are opened/resolved
Mean time to recovery: The average time it takes to recover from a product failure, system failure, or outage
Mean time to repair: The average time it takes to repair and test a system
Mean time between failures: The average time between repairable failures
Service-level agreements on uptime: The percentage of uptime that an IT team agrees to uphold, e.g., 99.8%
Average time to resolution for help desk tickets: The average time that a customer waits before their help ticket is solved
Metrics represent the other data points that you are collecting to make decisions. They tend to apply less directly to your goals, but still have significance.
For example, let's say you track the CPU usage on a particular server and see that it is at 70 percent. This number may not be useful on its own. But if you know that performance problems arise at 75 percent usage, you now have a frame of reference to operate within.
Similarly to goals and KPIs, metrics for IT teams typically relate to work/code quality, reliability, security, efficiency, and team velocity. Taken together, metrics help tell a story about team progress and opportunities for improvement.
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