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Show Why You're Valuable by Telling a Good Story

Bad IT scorecards use too many metrics that confuse rather than clarify; they should instead tell a story about why IT is valuable and only use metrics that support that story. There are 10 stories to choose from

One of the most pressing concerns for IT professionals at many levels is how to describe the value of what they do to those outside of the function.

Everyone likes to be recognized when they’ve accomplished good work but, for functional teams like IT, it goes beyond that. Each year at around this time, corporate functions are assigned big budgets from their firm’s funds, and it’s vital for these functions to show that not only are they spending that money wisely but – to use a corporate cliché – they’re “creating value,” or providing the company with a healthy return on what it’s investing.

In theory, the world’s IT teams shouldn’t find it hard to do this at the moment. Many of them are doing great things: providing stellar service, accomplishing transformational projects when digitization is such an important strategic priority, keeping the company’s information safe, and so on.

But many of IT’s internal customers (line managers etc) don’t seem to be getting the message. The reason is that IT teams are not telling the right story.

Scorecards and Stories

The IT professionals in CEB’s networks have shared hundreds of IT scorecards across the years – with us and with each other – and three problems come up time and again: the metrics aren’t relevant, there are too many metrics, and it’s not clear what the scorecard is trying to show. Ultimately, the scorecard lacks a narrative, a clear idea of what it’s trying to communicate.

The best IT scorecards focus on two to three stories that show how IT affects a particular priority of the company. These might focus on the IT function itself – for example improving IT reliability – or they might be enterprise-level goals – for example supporting expansion into new territories or business units.

The scorecards then only contain metrics that support those value stories. Metrics that don’t tell that story are relegated to the appendix, to IT-focused scorecards, or retired altogether.

As the graphic below points out, there are ten value stories that show how IT supports the most pressing business priorities, and that teams should start adopting.


Relative impact of drivers on decision alignment

Click to expand the graphic


 

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