Moving Beyond Troubleshooting, IT Reports Best Practices

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It is widely accepted that technology is critical to modern businesses, but it’s often challenging to show the value Information Technology (IT) delivers to the entire organization. As a result, IT is still often viewed as a matter of “troubleshooting” or “customer support” rather than a genuinely strategic component of the organization.

Certain CIOs have successfully leveraged the appropriate data to prove that IT is a value generator for their organizations rather than a cost center. The key to such a coup is almost always the quality of the reporting, what data is quantified, and how well it illustrates the value, IT delivers to the overall business.

What this article will cover:

What is an IT Report? 

The familiar maxim is that every company is now a technology company to some degree in today's digital world. The issue being faced by IT professionals is that leadership mindsets don’t always align with this idea. IT leaders manage IT service providers, and CIOs are constantly tasked with proving the value of their departments and services. Effective IT reporting is vital to accomplishing this goal as it can show the value of IT investments within the greater context of how it impacts the business.

Your standard Information Technology report will compile and present various IT-related Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) tracked over a certain period of time. These can include project management stats, helpdesk and ticketing metrics, budgetary/revenue stats, network traffic, hardware performance data, or any other relevant data points.

Regardless of the specific KPI involved, it’s important to remember that the purpose of reports is to deliver value and guide future decision-making. Therefore, these reports should align with the organization’s more significant strategic objectives and priorities.

Once you fully understand how IT aligns with the business’ objectives, you can choose the right key performance indicators and metrics for your specific reports to explore the data and deliver the appropriate insights.

How IT Professionals and MSPs Use Reports

Marketing and Sales

Many managed services providers use reports in their sales and marketing process to show the value their potential clients will receive and how their IT service stacks up against possible competitors. MSPs will commonly use service-related reports (SLA scoresheets, for example) or uptime reports to show their competency in the IT field.

Maintaining Compliance

Specific regulations require reports to be generated and archived to keep up with standards. These reports will often revolve around client system security, user access, patch management, and associated logs.

IT Asset Management

Reporting can be helpful -- sometimes essential -- for IT asset management as reports can be generated to compile and sort hardware, licenses, or other assets for tracking and planning purposes.

Client Retention

MSPs face the same challenge of proving the value of their IT services to their clients. Utilization, service, and budgetary reports are often used during regular meetings or quarterly business reviews (QBRs) to help keep the client engaged.

Example IT Reports

Modern IT management software and reporting tools afford no limit to the types of IT reports generated. Because there’s always a danger of tracking too many variables and drowning in data, it’s essential to focus on the metrics that are tied to IT and organization objectives.

Some of the more common IT reports include:

Last Period Outages

Downtime and service outages directly affect a business’s ability to operate. For example, the IT team should track and report downed communications, website outages, CRM downtime, network failures, and any other type of outage that is detrimental to operations. These results should offer granular details on each outage to better understand and communicate what issues the IT team had to resolve, what effects the downtime had on the business, and what led to the problem.

Incidents Resolved Within SLA Timeframe

Slow response times lead to more potential damage from an IT issue. The faster the MSP or IT team can respond to problems, the more value they bring to the organization. Reports on resolution times should include the percentage of resolved incidents within the timeframe specified in the service level agreement (SLA), or measured against a more general benchmark if no SLA can be referenced.

Percentage of Transactions within Performance Service Level

IT should report on the percentage of transactions that the department keeps within acceptable performance parameters. This helps further illustrate the importance of IT on overall operations and profitability. Even more helpful are reports that show a positive trend in service level achievements as the IT environment matures and stabilizes.

Number of Problems Permanently Resolved

Permanent resolutions are the goal of increasing productivity across the board. Recurring issues are best avoided when the IT department is looking to communicate long-term value. Tracking and reporting on issues that return regularly helps to guide remediation and proactive planning measures and increase overall value.

Problem Management Backlog Aging

Effective IT reporting should include a problem management backlog summary that outlines long-standing problems which are in the queue for resolution. This report should be amended with a plan to work through the backlogged problems within a given timeframe.

Number of Successful Changes

Change management initiatives should be tracked for reporting on the value that each change is delivering to the organization. By tracking the number and details of successful changes, MSPs can demonstrate the value each change is bringing to the table.

Change Management Summary

A change management summary is used to illustrate which services are actively being changed. Good reporting should be able to illustrate a positive trend to these changes over time.

Service Availability

Service availability IT reporting is also essential to understanding continuity. For example, reporting on service availability shows that IT keeps incidents and downtime to a minimum.

Service Utilization

A service utilization report will demonstrate where IT’s value is most realized by illustrating who uses IT services and how many resources they’re consuming.

Service Costs

Managing the total cost of ownership is essential to running a financially-efficient MSP or IT department. Service cost reports help identify the expenditure on various IT services, giving insight that helps reduce IT spending and budget more effectively.

Best Practices for IT Reports

Once you’ve taken the time to understand how to align IT data with your organization’s goals, you’ll be able to start putting together your reports within your network monitoring systems. Here are a few critical best practices to follow:

  1. Start with the right KPIs: Making the right choices about data points, and KPIs should be simple once you’ve evaluated your organization’s needs but do consider these choices. There is such a thing as too much data, and reports should be curated and generated using the metrics that most suit your audience and goals. Go for quality over quantity!
  2. Avoid overlap: Keep reports as simple as possible and not duplicate data or allow for unnecessary overlaps between reports. When the volume and complexity of data increases, the level of frustration it can produce probably will, too.
  3. Work together to analyze reports: Collaborating within your organization will bring out more findings and better use the collected data.
  4. Share reports across multiple devices: Reports are meant to be shared -- and you should be working on them as a team (see above). Cloud-based reports are not only remotely accessed and easy to share but are backed up to prevent any costly embarrassments due to losing a file.
  5. Use templates when possible: Never reinvent the wheel, right? Many RMM solutions and reporting tools (including NinjaOne) offer templates to create reports and live dashboards in minutes.
  6. Automate whenever possible: Automation is essential in the IT business, and no less so when it comes to reporting. Having reports delivered on specific days, fully automated with relevant metrics, is a great way to reduce workload while still delivering value to clients. Such automations are easily set up using a top-tier remote monitoring and management tool like NinjaOne.

The right IT reporting solution can make your life easier

For many organizations, the value of the IT department or outsourced IT provider is measured only by their ability to keep the network running. MSPs and IT professionals can change this perception by showing just how much value IT brings to the organization. To accomplish this is no mean feat, and effective IT reporting is crucial for making it happen.

It’s very easy for the IT team to sell itself short if they’re not reporting back to leadership in a way that quantifies the value of the services delivered. Toward this end, tracking the right metrics in real-time and using the right tools are crucial. The right IT reporting solution can help you visualize and present essential data so that clients and CEOs alike can’t easily ignore it.

By following these best practices and using a quality remote monitoring and management tool, you can begin using reporting to its full potential -- and in no time, it will become easy to show decision-makers that IT is not just a cost center but a profit driver and real contributor to the organization’s overall success.

NinjaOne – Beautiful IT Management Reporting

All the reports you need to manage your endpoints

Reporting is a critical aspect of IT management – whether to customers, business users, or your team. Ninja enables you to create detailed reports exactly how you need them with a simple yet powerful report builder tool. Report modules include:

  • Infrastructure health
  • Asset and hardware inventory
  • License keys
  • Alerts and active issues reports
  • Scripts
  • Remote access reports
  • Antivirus activity and compliance
  • Network health and performance
  • Device addition / removal reports
  • Patch status and compliance
  • Software inventory and changes
  • Windows events
  • Management notes
  • Task history
  • Platform and technician activities

5 Bite-Sized Ways to Improve Your Business Every Week

NinjaOne Newsletter

Join fellow growth-minded MSPs and feed your business with new tips and tutorials delivered straight to your inbox.

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