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The importance of IT health checks


Regular measurements, or check-ups, are critical in maintaining the general health and viability of your car, your body and your organization. Your enterprise is no doubt constantly tracking various measures of success—commonly called key performance indicators (KPIs)—that are likely supplied by the systems maintained by the information technology (IT) department. Likewise, IT should be taking a pulse of its own performance, to regularly measure the quality of its service and the effectiveness of its operations.

IT provides a service that, simply stated, implements and maintains technology for the various operational arms of the organization. For any organization that provides a service, customer service is the ultimate measure of effectiveness. The most direct and usually the most telling way to measure customer service is simply to ask the customer—through surveys and other direct feedback mechanisms. Merely collecting a list of complaints is too one-sided; you will only hear from the disgruntled. Direct interaction to hear what marketing folks refer to as the “voice of the customer” will provide a more scientific, more balanced measurement that IT can use to determine how to improve the service it provides to end users within the organization.

To gather constructive feedback on the quality of service your IT organization is providing, consider conducting a survey of the end user population. Here are some suggested topical areas to cover within such a survey:

Respondent identification: Even if the response is intended to be anonymous, it is valuable to know the location, functional area, applications used, extent of use, level of experience, etc. about respondents to help qualify their answers and remediate issues.

Technology effectiveness: These questions should address such areas as: How well does the technology in place support your ability to do your job effectively? Is there any part of your system interaction that you view as awkward or inconvenient? Is there a part of your job that is not supported by technology that should be (be as specific as possible)? Is network performance reliable and responsive enough to meet your needs? Do you feel that the data you interact with is secure?

Application effectiveness: List applications or systems such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, customer relationship management (CRM) systems, Microsoft Office, etc. and provide a ranking mechanism (poor / fair / good / excellent / not applicable).

Support and service experience: Have users rate the quality of their experiences with specific applications, the support they are receiving from the IT department (responsiveness of the team as well as effectiveness of issue resolution), interactions with relevant outsourced suppliers, etc.

Training: This section should address whether users feel they have received the necessary level of training to maximize the effectiveness of relevant technology and applications.

 IT health checks provide direct feedback that not only indicates the overall quality of service but also highlights where and how to improve that service. This allows IT to focus on the things that customers want and need, so future IT efforts and investments can be targeted to delivering the most value to the customer. Continued monitoring of customer service and needs, with appropriate follow-up, will keep IT focused on delivering the services and facilities that users can leverage for higher productivity and better overall corporate performance. Lastly, positive results should be reported back to the business and used by IT to improve its image.


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