Too often computers & software are viewed as an IT cost (to be minimized) rather than as employees’ most important productivity tools. As such, IT should track key metrics to ensure they work properly. Not sure how to get started? Read on.
Computers and software are the most important tools for knowledge workers. However, too often we have seen that they are viewed as a necessary evil: an IT cost which should be minimized. Because of that, IT has often not taken the time to look into how these tools actually work for their employees. Most IT departments rely on end-users to report issues to HelpDesk. The problem is that most issues remain un-reported as employees suffer in silence. In order to ensure that computers are actually working properly, IT should track key metrics.
How to get started with tracking metrics
There has been a lack of visibility of computers and software and no measuring in place. For IT to start tuning computers and software into top condition, they need to know what is not working.
Data enables IT departments to understand what works and what doesn’t. Data allows you to keep the things that work in good condition and shows you the things that need fixing. It allows you to track trends to see how things are improving. But how can you do all this if you don’t actively measure and use data as a core part of your IT operations?
There is certainly lots of data available if you want to start collecting and using it. We have some recommendations on where to start and how to define what data needs to be collected. Here are some key questions to answer first:
- For what purpose are you gathering data?
- What data do you need that takes you towards that purpose?
- How do you build metrics from data?
- How do you get the data that you need?
- How do you convert raw data into an understandable format?
If your goal is to provide employees with well-functioning computers and applications , you should consider what metrics to monitor to reach this goal. Then ask yourself:
How strongly does that metric impact user experience?
How many users does it impact?
How easily can you fix problems if the data reveals them - is it an easy, moderate, or complex effort?
Let’s make this more concrete by looking at an example: laptop batteries. When you look at the metric of battery wear using these three questions it goes like this:
How strongly does the metric impact user experience?
Worn-out batteries have a significant impact on the users. It means they must constantly keep a charger with them, and only work where they can keep their laptops plugged in (ie. near a power outlet). And, if the battery runs out, they will lose work time as they wait for the laptop to re-boot. In the worst-case scenarios, they may forget the charger somewhere and not be able to work, or the laptop may run out of battery at a crucial time, or could even lose valuable work!
How many users does it impact?
Here, you need to look at the data found in your monitoring tool.
How easy is the problem to fix?
The problem of a worn-out battery is very easy to fix: just order a new one, and IT can install it in minutes.
So, this is a great example of a metric that would be worth following as the issue causes significant disruption to the end-user yet is an easy fix. And don’t expect that users will let you know when their batteries are failing – most do not contact the Service Desk for help. They just suffer in silence, always keeping their eyes open for places to plug in their laptops. So, IT needs to use data to find these people and help them proactively.
There are many other concrete data points that you can monitor in computers and software to which have a clear impact on employee productivity: things like computer start-up time, crashing software, and high memory usage. You might find some ideas here:
Defining device scores and total environment score
The basic idea for metrics is to summarize the current results of measured data points. In other words, they help you quickly understand where you are now. If the data points are selected well, they help you manage the operations in the right direction. To manage the operations, you must set up targets for the short term and the long run. You must be precise in setting targets for computer and software quality. There’s a saying that if you describe the quality with adjectives, you often lack metrics.
A simple model for defining and calculating the metrics could be to list the data points you want to include in a specific metric. List 5–10 concrete data points that show how good a condition single computer is in. Then define how much weight each data point represents from a total of 100%. Define a metric scale, e.g., from 1–5, where one is poor and five is excellent. Then for each datapoint, define how it gets points from 1 to 5 when measuring. Here you have a device score. Start to measure, give points to each data point measurement result, and calculate your scores. You get the total environment score by calculating the average from device scores.
Making improvements based on data
In the end, the question is how to harness data and metrics for concrete results and improvements in the Digital Employee Experience. Here are some tips for getting started:
Know what you’re doing well
Understand where you are already doing well and continue to keep these things in good condition or even raise the bar.
Don’t overcomplicate things
Keep things simple enough. Don’t a huge target right at the start as that will just set you up for failure. Instead, break the big goal into smaller pieces and focus on getting one task done before moving to the next. That is also called agile continuous improvement, which leads to great results in the longer term. It also gives you the flexibility to adjust things along the way as you learn.
Just get started
Don’t wait until you have perfect KPIs to even get going. Choose a few key things to track and start acting on them. This way you get feedback on what works, what doesn’t, and what needs improvement.
Get the foundations in shape
Focus on getting the foundations of your computer environment in good shape. Describe and document things at the basic level at least. Agree as a team on how to operate with the data and metrics. And make sure everybody remembers why we are doing this. Defining the baseline based on concrete data forms a strong base for daily operations.
Shifting perspective from operational efficiency to enabling business growth
There must be more and more communication between the IT and the business leaders. Technologies are a core part of business operations, so close communication is necessary.
We interviewed CIOs and IT Directors and asked them how much they communicate and share with the wider organization about how they measure the digital employee experience, what they have been doing, how things have been developing, and what development targets are. The answer in most cases was very little, if at all.
CIOs felt that computer and software issues were not of much interest to the rest of the organization. However, many believed that more communication would increase the understanding that IT is not just doing “IT stuff” but is interested in improving employees’ productivity and are playing an important role in ensuring the company’s success.
It is important that IT demonstrate the value they bring to the business. Showing things in an understandable, visual way would help bring IT and business closer. Also, if you need to ask for money to invest in improving IT, having concrete data to back up the request would go a long way to getting a favorable decision.
If you’re not sure what metrics to start tracking, we’ve compiled a list of the 9 most common issues in end-user IT. We surveyed the computers and software of over 1000 companies to come up with this list. Many of the issues are easy to solve and make a big difference in the IT experience of employees.