Wanted: Better IT performance evaluation

As IT departments evolve from being mere service providers to strategic business partners and managers begin looking for people with different skill sets it’s becoming clear that organization need to find new ways of evaluating the performance of IT workers.

The number of lines of code written, the number of days it took to deliver a project, the amount of dollars that project was within the budget. These were among the traditional metrics that companies reviewed the performance of their IT staff.

Today, firms like The Mitre Corp., a not-for-profit science and engineering organization evaluates employees, including IT workers, on the impact of what they produce.

Of course, employees are also evaluated on more traditional metrics such as meeting deadlines and staying under budget, but the emphasis is on measuring “performance against our plans for existing services and new capabilities, according to Joel Jacob, CEO of The Mitre.

More and more, people are also being measured “around relations and how they’re perceived by the business,” said Dan Roberts, president of Ouellette & Associates Consulting. He said businesses need a new framework for assessing people because skill sets and competency in the workplace are changing.

For instance, he said, the IT department of a large pharmaceutical firm that Ouellette & Associates is advising has an employee report card that takes into account business-unit satisfaction levels. IT professionals are assessed based on the business value they contribute to the organization.


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Whether or not you agree with the emerging methods, clearly some change with how IT workers’ performance is judge has to occur.

In a survey of 3,500 IT professionals and leaders last year, Toronto-based, IT staffing and consulting firm, TEKSystems found that only half of respondents from either group said that supervisors are proficient in performance management.

Just as important is the need for IT workers to clearly know what is expected of them.

Evaluation is a critical part of performance management, according to Rachel Russell, marketing director for TEKSystem. However, many companies fail to deliver to their workers a formal feedback about the workers’ performance.

While 83 per cent of IT professionals indicated that a formal feedback from management is important to their success about half of them said they received feedback only once or twice a year.

While 93 per cent of IT professionals said informal feedback is valuable to their success, only 14 per cent of IT professionals and just 12 per cent of IT leaders said informal feedback is given when performance deviates from expectation.

Fifteen per cent of IT professionals and eight per cent of IT leaders said informal feedback is not given at all.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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