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FCW : April 15, 2015
April 15, 2015 FCW.COM 27 agency, or how IT is fundamental to building new programs or implementing new policies. CIOs are comparing the percentages of their budgets and resources that are allocated for those efforts ver- sus standard IT maintenance and provisioning of computing resources. 5. Avoid ‘watermelon metrics’ The best CIOs keep searching for true causes of potential issues and avoid what one leader calls “watermelon metrics.” Performance measures can look green on the outside but be red on the inside when they are split open for close examina- tion. Smart leaders listen for hints from clients, employees and even automated technical metrics that signal a problem. Their trust in green light metrics is earned, not assumed. For example, one CIO joined a department where server uptime looked strong but was mea- sured in isolation. There were small flags from other infrastructure metrics, so she had her team design an end-to-end server-performance metric; her team was shocked by the poor results they received. If they had not dug deeper, she and her team would not have known they had a water- melon metric and that their client’s experience was as poor as it was. Carving out time to collaboratively design cus- tomized project metrics is a great business deci- sion. Leading CIOs recognize that it is always worth leaving their comfort zone of technical met- rics to design performance measures that illustrate the value of IT through others’ eyes. That is how top CIOs garner trust, funding, and opportunities for growth and innovation. When CIOs make a habit of customization (even if it comes at the expense of technical excel- lence), they create satisfied clients who become IT evangelists and sell others on the IT depart- ment’s worth. Those evangelists make it easier for CIOs to acquire the resources they need to be even more successful next time and perform even more strongly. n Kevin C. Desouza is associate dean for research in the College of Public Programs and Alison Sutherland is a doctoral student at Arizona State University. More of their research can be found at kevindesouza.net. What CIOs say about metrics The comments below are excerpts from the interviews Kevin Desouza and Alison Sutherland conducted for this article. Their full report on metrics in the public sector will be released by the IBM Center for the Business of Government. Metrics come from the bottom up in this organization and are constantly evolving.” We redevelop and reorganize metrics based on their usefulness. This re-evaluation process is always in play.” If a metric is not informing decisions and enhancing government, we push it aside. For us, usefulness is everything.” A lot can be accomplished with metrics. At budget time, department heads would request things like new hires with no supporting materi- als; however, I [submitted] evidence in the form of graphs that were comparative to other cities and challenged my city council to support my request. The ability to show things in black and white was a lesson to me early on.” If I receive complaints about services, the metric helps me validate those claims and respond better. Metrics help identify where there are issues or problems in the system.” One challenge I encounter with metrics is timeliness. They’ve got to be kept up-to-date in a timely manner. Having metrics that are infrequently examined puts you in an awfully reactive position. Frequently examined met- rics enable course corrections as you’re going along.” 0415fcw_025-027.indd 27 3/25/15 12:19 PM
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April 30, 2015