Whether operations are running smoothly or you’re running into a number of hiccups, the question to IT is always the same – “What do we even pay you for?” Rather than viewing IT as a vital piece of the puzzle, organizations often view IT as a cost center, leading to warped perceptions of the importance of IT.
IT teams often face similar hurdles when trying to demonstrate IT value:
- Communicating technical updates to a non-technical audience
- Aligning technical priorities with business goals to tell a compelling story
- Condensing important information into something quickly digestible
All of these struggles can have far-reaching consequences, including impacts to budget, executive buy-in, future headcount, and more. Without a comprehensive reporting process in place, you could end up sacrificing the resources you need down the line.
3 reasons why IT reporting is important
- Measurements allow you to easily tell a story
When talking to other divisions within the broader organization, it’s important to be able to tell a story. These various audiences may not have the advanced technical expertise or have limited time to dig into a long description. With good stats, you can easily tell your own story in a simple format. You can also use these stories to demonstrate how IT makes an impact on organization-wide goals, proving value.
- Helps you make business cases
As an IT leader, you’ll often be tasked with making budget, purchasing, and headcount decisions for the future. Or, throughout your day-to-day, you may find a gap in workflow that needs dedicated resources. In any case, a ready-made report can make your life a whole lot easier. By showing actual data (and better yet, aligning it to a monetary cost), you can more easily make a business case for any changes you’d like to implement.
- Keep track of what actions made an impact
Reports are not just good for sharing information with the rest of the organization but can be incredibly impactful for your own team. Reports can give visibility into any inefficiencies and show you where you should be putting in a greater investment. This ensures that you can make the best business decisions possible in a timely manner.
How to build an awesome report
If you haven’t yet built a report or are looking for ways to spruce up an existing one, there are some best practices that can take your report from good to great.
- Select the right Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are the backbone of your report. These datapoints will communicate your story, so they should align with existing business or IT goals. There are a vast number of KPIs you can choose from, some of which you can find in our IT measures of success doc. They range anywhere from cost per ticket to number of security threats blocked. But be aware, too many KPIs can make things too busy and hard to decipher, so choose wisely!
- Identify how your data will be obtained
You’ll need to work within each of your platforms to see if the data you need is easily obtainable. You may be able to find all of the datapoints within the IT team itself, but there is a chance you’ll need to work with other departments to pull the data you need. It’s better to know as soon as possible before you get in too deep with data that’s hard to obtain.
- Simplify the process with pre-designed report templates
Luckily, you don’t have to do all of the legwork on your own. There are plenty of resources out there that can help you design a report with existing templates. Third-party resources such as Canva or Piktochart can help you design awesome reports in a snap. Alternatively, you can always use Microsoft Office or Google Workspace, as those are likely already implemented in your environment.
- Show the data in context
Rather than showing single datapoints, make sure the data is shown in context so that it helps tell that story. For example, if you’re showing the cost per ticket and are trying to convince leadership that you need to invest in a new automation tool, you might show the increase in cost per ticket over time. All of the data should easily demonstrate the story you’re telling.
- Organize data on the page by workflow types
Though you may have more detailed reports for quarterly or annual reports, you often will be combining different workflows into a single report. This means that you should separate out your data stories into the different IT workflows – helpdesk, security, etc. This helps organize your thoughts and make it much easier to digest!
- Conduct reporting on a regular basis
Reporting can be an awesome tool to communicate to other teams or use within your team, but you have to remain consistent and tailor the reports around the frequency of your meetings. Quarterly reports will look drastically different than annual reports, and monthly reporting will be even less involved than an annual planning report. This may also change the KPIs that you monitor, so keep that in mind as you’re mapping out your reports.
If you’re looking for guidance on your next reporting endeavor but aren’t sure where to start, we’ve put together a new guide – “IT Measures of Success,” which comes with usable formulas and a list of KPIs that you can utilize when putting together your next report.