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Using Performance Management to Achieve Operational Excellence

“If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” While often overused and certainly not absolute, this phrase highlights the importance of leveraging data to validate the strategies and practices that are working –  and those that are not – within your enterprise.

In today’s IT environment, conversations are largely data-focused. How many incidents are currently open against our SAP environment? How many problems are outstanding with no workaround? What is the average monthly uptime of the servers in the data center? The ability to quickly answer questions such as these is critical to achieving (and maintaining) operational excellence.

Enter performance management. Performance management (PM) is defined as the process of being able to monitor and measure IT metrics to assess the performance of IT personnel and infrastructure.

This blog post will examine the two key aspects of performance management: the performance of capital resources and the performance of human resources.

Performance of Capital Resources

The first and most important output of performance management is the ability to measure the performance of capital resources. The ability to capture metrics that highlight the return on investment of corporate IT assets can help a company’s IT leadership evaluate if the distribution of capital resources is properly allocated. For example, having visibility into monthly server uptime enables an organization to quantify if money was well spent on the server asset or, alternatively, decide on a course of action if it wasn’t.

The same can be said for capital investments in network and other IT assets. Performance management facilitates service and outage remediation but can also improve the way an organization executes capacity planning. Capacity planning is defined as how well an enterprise plans for the ever-changing workloads of its IT assets. For example, enterprise data centers broadly use performance management metrics to determine the best roadmap to manage their capacity planning. Having the ability to track key metrics and understand what that data represents can help an organization avoid downtime and, ultimately, provide higher levels of customer service. This leads to a stronger market presence, less overhead, and higher profitability.

Performance of Human Resources

Measuring the performance of employees is the second aspect of performance management and provides three major benefits for the business.

  • Measuring direct financial gain of corporate projects: To align organizational human resources with corporate goals, human resources should be aligned to projects that increase sales and cut costs while also being able to tangibly measure how project performance.
  • Increased management control over day to day IT projects: The ability to place measurements on IT projects helps to demonstrate the overall business value of the project. If the measurements are low and below expected targets, the business will be able to to shift resources to higher value initiatives. Eliminating projects that are trending towards failure can lead to more management control over which projects make it across the finish line without wasted cost or potentially harmful solutions being implemented. This is especially true when introducing new tool sets into your business’s ecosystem.
  • Increased management control over IT audit projects: Along the lines of displaying how well day to day IT projects are going, the financial and retail industries, just to name a few, are required to deliver IT projects to support corporate audits. Regulatory or legislative audits put a real strain on the business’s resources during that yearly period. A lot of resources are allocated to completing these audits and they become tedious and stressful tasks for not only the employees assigned to them, but also those executives and managers waiting for results. Imagine knowing exactly how your corporation is trending on compliance requirements well before the audit period. Performance management metrics display how the business is trending towards thresholds and targets, makes these projects much easier, and relieves the stress on managers.

Improve Service Level Management

One piece of performance management that encompasses both human resources as well as capital resources is using the process to improve service level management. The trends that performance management metrics show allow managers and IT strategists to make decisions that will improve their overall customer service. Using real time and historical data, the business’s leadership view whether or not SLAs are being met on a consistent basis. They also receive the analytical data necessary for them to make business improvement decisions. Using this data to improve customer service leads directly to increases in profitability and efficiency for the business.

SLAs do not only directly correlate to the ITSM side of IT, but also ITOM (IT operations management). ServiceNow’s ServiceWatch application is an example of how SLAs can work together with the process of service level management to provide business value to the business’s ITOM practice. Performance management principles can be applied to and provide a comprehensive process to not only maintain ITOM processes but, also, improve them as well.

Having a good performance management process is a key component to improving the overall performance of an organization. Learning to interpret metrics as a result of implementing a performance management process can elevate your organization to higher levels of customer service, efficiency, and profitability. However, no great process implementation is complete without a good tool set that goes along with it. Service Now’s Performance Analytics produces the metrics needed to help leadership plan their roadmaps and be positioned to adjust them real-time in order to meet operational goals.

In next week’s article, we’ll discuss how ServiceNow’s Performance Analytics solution can provide you with the tools necessary to implement performance management within your organization, as well provide a case study on the concept of staff optimization using Performance Analytics. No matter where you are in the performance management process maturity matrix, if you have any questions please feel free to reach out to me at, I am here to help.

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