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Tools, Fools, And The Ability To Measure Effectively

When it comes to software, keep it simple, stupid, at least at the beginning of an IT measurement program.
The very best information will be of little use if it's not easily accessible. Company intranets and/or Web sites are vital distribution channels and should be leveraged whenever possible when looking to disseminate the results of the IT measurement program.

As for third-party tools for use with IT measurement programs, the marketplace is flooded with tools to generate dashboards and paint pretty pictures, but caution is advised regarding purchasing these tools. It has been said that a fool with a tool is simply a faster fool. The adage applies here.

There's no use going overboard with expensive software tools at first. The ability to effectively establish current baselines, set improvement targets, measure monthly progress toward those targets, and conduct variance analysis can usually be accomplished with a simple toolset (i.e., Microsoft Excel worksheets and graphs).

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Time will dictate when to migrate to more sophisticated software. Once the measurement process has matured to a level of sophistication such that either multiple critical requirements exist that the simpler toolset cannot accommodate, or the level of effort required to support the measurement portfolio using the simpler toolset justifies a three-year break-even return on investment, then, and only then, can an organization justify the effort to evaluate migrating to a more robust enterprise measurement toolset.

Rod Cleary is senior manager of process quality assurance at Sallie Mae, the nation's leading provider of student loans. Write to him at [email protected]

Photo Illustration by Jupiter Images

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