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11/26/2008
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Chris Murphy
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The Metrics That Matter Most

HP's IT portfolio management team tracks these five metrics on its weekly dashboard.

What a company measures says a lot about what it values. Here's what the Hewlett-Packard IT portfolio management team tracks on its dashboard.

On-Time Delivery: It's a fundamental measure of IT's credibility. At HP, it's a weighted measure, so if four small projects are on time and one big one's late, "that's not an 80% on-time delivery," says Hiram Davis, a manager in the global portfolio management office.

Percentage Of Innovation: This metric looks at how much IT staff time is spent on new development and innovation, compared with maintenance and support, based on weekly time sheets.

Time-Phase Boxing: Projects of a given length tend to have a similar life cycle, so this metric will flag if a two-month project is behind when the typical one would be into testing. "The value of this metric is to track a project's progress while it's in flight," says Davis, providing time to make corrections and still be on time. It also provides insight into whether IT has the right mix of projects under way. It's good at delivering one- to two-month projects on time, but they tend to be lower benefit. Eight- to nine-month projects often produce higher benefits but are more likely to run late. Six-month projects hit the right balance of benefit and risk most often.

Collaboration: HP wants this number--which measures the different locations involved in a project--to be low. HP believes that having people in the same office improves on-time delivery, but it also makes it easier for veterans to share knowledge with less experienced people, and it's good for work-life balance, since it means fewer late-night or early-morning calls to accommodate different time zones.

Cost-Benefit Analysis Validation: CBA is an agreement between business units, finance, and IT on what a project will deliver and cost. This metric is a percentage of how complete that process is, and the portfolio management team watches it during planning to make sure IT doesn't work on a project until all groups have agreed on the benefits and costs.

"We talk about the revenue of IT being the annualized benefits. That's all based on the CBA," Davis says. "It's what we're saying the value of the project is we're delivering to the business."

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