6 IT Success Factors Your Customers Care About

There are 6 IT success factors that reflect your customer’s definition of IT success which every IT organization should be tuned into and measuring. I have settled on these 6 IT success factors because they surface in nearly every engagement I work on whether it is an IT organization assessment or CIO coaching. And, I am pretty sure you will be surprised by what they are which does not include any leadership mumbo-jumbo about how we are all snowflakes.

“In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure.” Bill Cosby

Definition of IT Success

Success is a favorable or prosperous result or consequence of an endeavor. The definition of success requires there be a deliberateness, an intention, behind the result rather than simply a randomness. In other words a causation.

With so much attention given to IT success and CIO success these days, I think most in IT would define IT success using the popular phrases such as competitive advantage, agility, IT-Business alignment, or innovation.

When considering the definition of IT success it is absolutely essential that the result being pursued and the criteria for judging that result be defined externally by the customer. This orientation to IT success is best thought of as outside-in.

Sadly, there are still far too many IT organizations that are defining IT success internally using technical criteria like server uptime or average speed of answer rather than the measures that are meaningful to their customers. This orientation is considered inside-out and I can tell you it infuriates your customers.

Inside-out vs Outside-In Illustration

One organization recently completed a major desktop conversion involving the upgrade to Windows 7 and Office 2010 in conjunction with implementing VDI and replacing 66% of the desktops with WYSE terminals.

By most accounts, the IT department viewed the project as a major success given they had implemented leading edge technologies their competitors hadn’t yet achieved and the data center systems were performing well with no unplanned downtime. IT Success?

But several remote offices responsible for a significant percentage of revenue have been experiencing chronic performance problems using their VDI/WYSE desktops in the 7 months since the conversion. On many days the remote office staff would choose to work from home because their home Internet access and remote desktop performed without issue. IT Success?

IT Success Factors

When defining IT success I always ask IT department customers to define IT success in their own terms. The result of that process, repeated over and over in many organizations, are the 6 IT success factors provided here. These success factors can be organized around the Initiation and Execution phases of IT service delivery.

#1 Engagement

Customers think about IT engagement in terms of the amount of effort it takes to capture the attention of the IT department and initiate action. Many organizations measure mean time to engage on help desk calls but rarely apply that sort of metric on any other activity but should.

#2 Urgency

Once IT is engaged, urgency is a measure of the importance IT ascribes to the situation which defines the expectation for accomplishing the result and the amount of resources to be allocated. Your customers expect all issues be handled with a specific urgency much like help desk issues are assigned an urgency based on user priority and business impact under a defined SLA.

#3 Ownership

This is pretty simple, your customers want someone who will carry the burden of their IT related issues and needs. They want to know that once IT is engaged, IT will take ownership of seeing it through to the end which includes insulating them from the ugliness of your sausage making operation.

#4 Pace

Customers just want reasonably steady rate of progress that is commensurate with the Urgency. Your customers want IT to work with them on what an acceptable pace is and keep them informed as progress is made or any barriers are encountered (re: communication).

#5 Results

IT must deliver the committed results. Your customers resent being asked to concede on scope or features at the last minute or request for additional time. They especially don’t want to hear why the very thing you promised weeks ago can’t be done or requires more funding. If you can’t deliver the results they expect, or that you committed to, you have to tell them early and honestly why.

#6 User Experience

The user experience is the overarching IT success factor your customers have that centers on how easy it is to do business with the IT department and use the IT services and solutions you deploy. The user experience includes the quality of the customer service experience and the usability of the applications.

Certainly there are other factors and related attributes. But you might be very surprised how tolerant and understanding your customers can be on those other factors if you are performing adequately on these 6 IT success factors.

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4 Responses to 6 IT Success Factors Your Customers Care About

  1. Roseanne says:

    Your post, 6 IT Success Factors Your Customers Care About, is really well written and insightful. Glad I found your website, warm regards!

  2. The Higher Ed CIO says:

    Hopefully there is some benefit in these 6 issues for everyone.

  3. Stacey says:

    Very interesting post about the 6 IT success factors your customers care about. Whether you have an internal IT department or an outsourced IT service provider these factors are crucial to your IT success. I would especially agree with the importance of engagement and delivering results. The ability to initiate action and deliver the committed results is crucial to IT success. Like you mentioned, customers don’t want to hear why the very thing you promised weeks ago can’t be done or requires more funding. Thanks for the helpful tips.

  4. The Higher Ed CIO says:

    Thanks for your comment Stacey and agreement on delivering results.

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