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Processes to support information technology effectiveness reviews

This blog post reminds organizations that they should take the time to conduct information technology effectiveness reviews, to evaluate and improve the IT department’s role in achieving the organization’s goals.

information technology effectivenessOrganizations should periodically – perhaps every two to three years – assess the overall effectiveness of their IT systems and activities. However, there is a basic precursor to doing this review. On an ongoing basis, and to make it possible to even do the reviews, organizations must track the different variables they will use in review metrics. For example, if an organization needs financial information to calculate the true cost of implementing new systems or to compare actual and budgeted costs, it should have been tracking these costs on an ongoing basis.

Additionally, for the metrics to be effective, the data-collection processes must be effective – the metrics calculated and their usefulness will take on the quality of the underlying data collected. Consequently, data must be complete and accurate, otherwise the resulting metric will likely be inaccurate and misleading. As an example, for any metric that requires an organization to track costs, the organization must make some basic determinations including:

  • What costs will be included in the metric – direct costs only, or overhead allocations as well?
  • Which personnel or departments incur the costs which will be tracked?
  • How will the departments or personnel track the costs? For example, will the organization need new forms or other accounting reports or records to capture the costs, or are existing forms and processes adequate?
  • Who will be responsible for overseeing and coordinating the cost accumulation exercise and communicating with the personnel or departments involved?
  • What data validation processes will the organization use?

As a further example of basic considerations, in order to assess the effectiveness of the service desk it is helpful to collect the following information over the review period, from support logs or other sources:

  • The nature of each problem that users report.
  • The solution provided for each problem.
  • The length of time before the service desk responds to a user.
  • The length of time the service desk takes to resolve the service call.
  • The nature and frequency of problems which must be escalated, for example to an external software provider.
  • Problems which the service desk and/or the external service provider could not resolve.

Proper planning is required to develop the surveys and other processes required to capture and report the service desk data or information above. For instance, the organization will need to develop effective surveys if it wishes to use surveys to capture user feedback about the service desk. But beyond developing the survey, there are many other considerations including the timing of the survey or other feedback method. As an example, the survey or feedback sessions should be conducted outside of periods which discourage a high completion or participation rate. This may include holiday periods or inherently busy seasons when other activities are competing for valuable user attention.

Apolone Gentles, JD, CPA,CGA, FCCA, Bsc (Hons)

Apolone Gentles is a CPA,CGA and Ontario lawyer and editor with over 20 years of business experience. She has held senior leadership roles in non-profit organizations, leading finance, human resources, information technology and facilities teams. She has also held senior roles in audit and assurance services at a “Big Four” audit firm. Apolone has also lectured in Auditing, Economics and Business at post-secondary schools.
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