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Bradley O.
Bradley O.
Product Manager at ServiceNow

Putting the Indicator Back in KPI

Posted over 8 years ago

I like to ride my bicycle. In fact, I like to ride it well. I use an app on my iPhone called Strava to track how well I ride it. Using the magic of GPS, I can compare my times on certain stretches of road with all other Strava users. I am proud to say I am now the 632nd fastest of 1,007 riders on Kearny Villa Road.

In sports, we keep score. We love to keep stats. I had a friend in college who could quote any SF Giant’s player stats from almost any year. RBIs, HRs, DUIs.

But not all stats are equal. Not all baseball players are created equal. My son had a batting average that exceeded every MLB player in 2006. Every at bat he got a hit. I don’t mean to brag, but that translates to a perfect 1.000 average.

Did I mention he was playing t-ball?

In business, we keep KPIs. We love to keep stats. How many open incidents are we tracking? How fast can we release software? How satisfied are our customers?

I was on a call today with several large, multi-national corporate IT leaders discussing software release schedules- as long as 5 months and as short as 2 weeks. Philosophies are different when it comes to how you release software – many small releases like Google or few releases with very long windows like… Windows. That makes it hard to compare Apples to Chromebooks.

KPIs are Key to understanding how we are Performing, but are only Indicators and must be considered carefully and in context. I can’t beat myself up because there are 631 riders faster than me, or take great pride that I am faster than 375. But for riders over 40 in my weight class who are men, I would have some better sense of how I am performing relative to my peers (if I ever buy the pro version of Strava).  Not sure they are all working 60+ hours a week or have 4 kids.  I probably don’t log as many hours in the saddle as maybe 500 of those faster riders. But the last time I rode Kearny Villa Road was the fastest I have ever ridden it. But then again, it was a windy day, blowing my way.

KPIs can help us set new goals based on what we have done to date. But they only Indicate performance. They tell the truth, but not the whole truth.  For this reason, many put confidence intervals on metrics (think Process Control Charts).  That is a good practice.  But others get bent out of shape if there are 101 open incidents on any given day.

I admit that measuring past performance can have a very large impact on future performance – I would really like to crack the top 500 on Kearny Villa Road.  That would be great performance for me.  While I realize I am unlikely to be the fastest, I can still Strava for a PR.

Comments (1)

John Jasinski
John Jasinski
Consultant at ITSMBP

Suggestion – sharing thoughts on old topic – hoping KPI Library / ServiceNow will get an update on COBIT metrics.

KPI Library has COBIT 4.1 – outdated (and no indication of licensing permission)

COBIT 5 – released in 2012 has the following:

379 Metrics – in three levels:
54 Enterprise metrics (CEO)
59 IT-related metrics (CIO)
266 Enabling metrics (Processes)(across 37 processes)

The metrics have structure and context as they map directly to goals at each level with a Balanced Scorecard foundation.

I suggest ISACA might be happy to engage in the conversation.

Inquire about licensing or re-use permission for COBIT 5 for re-using the metrics only. Not the full content. Licensing info can be found in the COBIT website.

Metrics with Goals found in two books from – COBIT 5 Framework and COBIT 5 Enabling Processes.

COBIT 5 Framework is free download at

We, collectively, in our industry, across the globe, will benefit from working together to accelerate the knowledge sharing on metrics with related goals.

Keep up the good work! :-)

Posted almost 7 years ago | permalink

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