As in many other industries, the information technology faces an age-old issue of producing reports that actually enable and encourage success from the tidal wave of data. Reporting is certainly always relevant, but remains useless if one cannot gain actionable insights and interpret them against the state of performance sought by a business.
As a head of IT, you might very well have heard recurrently the question “How many support tickets did we get that month? How fast are they addressed?” to which you have to be able to answer – otherwise your capacity to effectively support the IT department of your company might be questionable. IT reports are here to do just that: help you do your job efficiently, as well as opening new growth and improvement opportunities. In this article, we will go over the nature and role of IT reporting, the numerous benefits it brings, and finally provide some example to illustrate our subject.
What Are IT Reports?
Like any report, an IT report compiles an ensemble of IT KPIs and metrics tracked over a certain period, to assess the situation during that timeframe. They can range all the way from helpdesk issues reports, detailing the number of tickets received, their resolution, and the up- and downtime, to the project management report tracking the advancement of a project, to a more financial-focused costs and revenue report.
Regardless of their nature, they deliver value to their readers and are supposedly impactful. They have to align with the company’s strategic objectives and priorities, therefore their realization needs to be thought out. The purpose is not to track every statistic possible, to the risk of being drown in data and lose focus. Further in the article, we will examine a couple of best-practices to keep in mind when building IT reports.
Why Do You Need Them?
When setting up a business strategy for your IT department, you need to craft a vision, identify goals to achieve and a clear path of how to get there. IT reports are here to help you demonstrate at each stage of the way where you stand, and demonstrate the progress (or decline) accomplished so far – but also, the effect you have on that progress.
This is why it is highly important to report correctly. If what you are reporting does not align with the wider business objectives, you might end up driving the IT department – and sometimes even the rest of the business – further apart. Bad reporting can also endanger the budget initially settled.
IT reporting has many benefits. Not only it lets you assess the current state of activities, to find out what is happening and where, but it also provides you with the proofs of it happening. Using an IT analytics software is extremely useful in the matter: by gathering all your data in a single point-of-truth, you can easily analyze everything at once and create actionable IT dashboards. Thanks to their real-time nature, you don’t need to struggle with the permanent synchronization: all your data is always up-to-date. That is a considerable asset to understand easily the bits and bytes of your activity, and turn that data into informed business decisions.
IT reports, visualized through professional dashboards, come in handy because they give an idea of the current situation in a glimpse. Just like you would answer “I am a bit stressed” or “tired but happy” to someone asking how you feel, without giving them the blow-by-blow account of everything that happened throughout the week, a report gives a snapshot of the activities. It is a highly effective communication tool to communicate your team’s performance or to collaborate together with coworkers.
Best Practices In IT Reporting
In order to avoid drowning in data and lose focus of what really matter, you need to ask yourself a couple of questions beforehand:
- Who is this report aimed at?
- What kind of metrics matter to them?
- What is the strategy behind this report: usual daily management or goal-oriented, strategic assessment of the current situation (assets, resources, etc)?
Once you have clarified who wants what and why, you are ready to set up the correct KPIs that will provide actionable insights for your IT reporting.
When it comes to collecting the data, you probably have a wide range of databases set up gathering information on different aspect of your activities. A best practice is to keep it simple and not duplicate data too much, even if it is inevitable. When the variation and volume of data increases, so does the complexity, the effort required and the general level of frustration.
Likewise, data quality is an important part of reporting. The outcomes of reporting are important and strategic decisions, and should thus not be based on false or failing information. Make data quality management an imperative matter of your reporting journey, and catch the data quality issues as early as possible.
Finally, collaborating with your team is essential. Working together on a report will bring out more than if only one brain was on it. Communicate them your findings and see what they have analyzed and dug out from the analytics. With the help of self-service business intelligence, it is easily feasible and several people can have access to the same source of knowledge and work.
IT Report Templates And Examples
As we said, IT reports are composed of a collection of KPIs aimed at analyzing specific part of the IT department’s activities. Once you have defined what you want to measure, you can select the appropriate metrics and visualize them through effective dashboards. Hereafter are three IT report examples and the KPIs constituting them.
IT Issue Management Dashboard
**click to enlarge**
This first IT report template deals with the technical issue management, and is especially useful for IT leaders. It indeed provides you with an overview of the overall problems happening in your system and lets everyone know what is happening and how often. The report displays the performance of three servers and tracks several metrics:
– the up- and downtime expressed as a percentage and in minutes
– the types of issue that occurred, the downtime they provoked and the time needed to repair them
– the number of support employee per thousand of end users
– the percentages of unsolved tickets per support agent
IT Cost Dashboard
**click to enlarge**
The second of our IT report examples tackles the financial management of the IT department. That is a crucial source of knowledge for decision-making as it provides top-management and the financial department with accurate data on how the resources are used, for what, in which quantity, and the profit that you manage to make out of it all. It is split into four different KPIs:
– the return on investment (ROI) over a year, expressing the efficiency of IT investments
– a comparison of the IT spending versus its budget
– a breakdown of all the different costs involved in the management of the department
– a comparison of the costs and the revenue generated
IT Project Management Dashboard
**click to enlarge**
Last but not least, the third IT report template is an excellent asset when you need the right overview of your IT projects to supervise several activities at once. It tracks every task necessary to carry out your project, its evolution, where you stand at the moment, what is delayed or need action. On this report you can find:
– the total project budget compared to what has already been used and what is left
– the overdue tasks, the time delayed, their original deadline and the employee responsible of the task
– the workload on each employee’s shoulders, directly affecting their capacity to deliver a task on time
– the deadlines upcoming: who is in charge, what type of task, its deadline and the workload percentage
Delivering valuable and uninterrupted IT support to your end users goes hand in hand with the status and the performance of your IT environment. In order to manage it all properly, the effective use of IT reports is key: it cannot be overlooked, and has to track and assess the right metrics to keep focus on what matters. The best way to bring your business forward, is to aim your IT reporting in the same direction as your vision and strategic goals.
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