Which IT metrics should I track?

Metrics are critical tools for evaluating IT performance and efficiency. By tracking metrics that matter to your business, you can make important decisions about where to invest time and resources. The challenge is knowing which metrics to pay attention to. It is easy to misstep — such as tracking metrics that do not really impact your goals, focusing too narrowly on certain metrics, or trying to measure everything at your disposal.

Before you assemble a list of metrics, revisit your IT goals. These should be specific, time-bound objectives that map to top-level business goals. Selecting metrics that tie to your goals is an iterative process. You should expect to adjust your key performance indicators (KPIs) as you learn more about what matters to the business and which levers IT is responsible for.

In general, strong metrics have the following in common:

  • Metrics are tied to business outcomes: Key metrics should relate to or impact your organization's core areas of focus. For example, many organizations are focused on providing better customer experiences and improving the rate at which value is delivered to customers. Corresponding metrics for the IT team could include deployment frequency and team output or velocity.

  • Metrics can be improved with time and effort: Metrics should reflect what you are aiming for and motivate the team to reach a target.

  • Metrics align with the team's work: Make sure that your team can directly influence the metrics that you select. Individual team members need to understand how their daily work connects to the goals and KPIs of the team.

In addition to goal-based metrics, it can be helpful to track other core metrics to help create a full picture of IT performance, effectiveness, and efficiency. This guide includes some of the most common metrics that matter to IT leaders. Of course, the metrics that you choose to gather will depend on your company, industry, and unique situation.

What are IT metrics?

IT metrics are quantifiable measurements to help your team and organization understand IT performance and value. Some teams separate metrics into categories, such as:

  • Performance: Metrics related to the operations of your products or services.

  • Quality: Metrics that help to explain user experience.

  • Security: Metrics related to compliance, risk, and situational awareness.

  • Velocity: Metrics related to delivery speed.

  • Value delivered: Metrics tied to business outcomes, cost-savings, revenue targets, or return on investment (ROI).

There are hundreds of metrics within each category, so it is vital to focus on data that truly matters to your business. The right metrics will help rally the IT team around top priorities, communicate the state of IT to other business leaders, and facilitate decision-making. The metrics you track will evolve as your team matures and the company grows.

What are the most common IT metrics?

Let's zero in on some of the most common metrics in each category. Remember that these four categories are not exhaustive. The categories and metrics that you choose to track could take on several potential forms. Likewise, these categories are not mutually exclusive. A metric such as mean time to resolve (MTTR), for instance, could be relevant across several categories.

Performance

  • Load time

  • Mean time between failures (MTBF)

  • Mean time to failure (MTTF)

  • Mean time to repair (MTTR)

  • Network latency

  • Service availability

Quality

  • Automated test coverage

  • Bug count or density

  • Escaped defects

  • Pass/fail rates

  • Release readiness

  • Successful code builds

  • Test efficiency

  • Throughput

Security

  • Code analysis measurements

  • Code churn

  • Compliance documentation and change logs

  • Mean time to detect vulnerabilities

  • Mean time to resolve vulnerabilities

  • Number of critical or high vulnerabilities

  • Scan frequency

  • Technical debt ratio (TDR)

Value delivered

  • Cost-savings

  • Customer satisfaction

  • Customer usage

  • Delivered story points

  • Lead time

  • Opportunity cost

  • ROI

  • Time to market

Velocity

  • Change volume

  • Customer tickets

  • Cycle time

  • Deployment frequency

  • Pass rate for automated tests

  • Sprint velocity

Why not to rely too heavily on metrics

Metrics are important. After all, people are motivated by making progress. And it is gratifying to see the impact of your work. But metrics are not the only indicator of improvement and success. Telling a team to improve its velocity, for instance, without an awareness of the constraints they might be operating under is not wise. You would not want the team to inflate their estimations just to "prove" velocity. Velocity, like all metrics, needs to be considered alongside other quantitative and qualitative performance indicators to give you a full idea of how the IT team is doing.

This is why it is critical to have a solid strategy set before you start choosing metrics. You can use a purpose-built planning tool like Aha! Roadmaps to define your vision, goals, and strategic initiatives. These become your guiding framework for prioritizing KPIs, investments, and ongoing IT work. Start your free 30-day trial now.

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