Important Metrics That Every CIO Should Consider

As a CIO, there are a lot of areas for you to stay on top of to ensure that your association’s processes run efficiently. While effective IT strategy is important, it’s just one part of the overall picture. In this blog post, we’re going to break down some specific metrics, both operational and strategic, that should be considered standard practice within any association. Surprisingly, many have very little to do with IT.  

Harnessing the Value of Metric Data 

First off, let’s discuss the importance of accurately measuring data. When you have quality metrics, you’re equipped with valuable information to help improve your association. From ensuring that the staff is focused on the right priorities to increasing the performance of your IT function, you have the insights needed to make better decisions. However, metrics are rarely used accurately as a tool. This hinders the ability to communicate with stakeholders and adapt as needed to meet changing business demands.  

Metrics make it possible to specify whether a goal is on track to being achieved or if the goal was successfully achieved. This is reflected in two metric types. The first is Leading Metrics, which indicate whether actions need to be taken in order to achieve the desired outcome. The other is Lagging Metrics which are based on the desired outcome by highlighting where there were successes or failures that either supported or prevented the outcome from being achieved.  

The most important part of collecting these metrics is using the data to inform future actions. The most common mistake made by associations is collecting data and not knowing what to do with it or not being willing to act to make important changes to improve processes.  

Our partners at InfoTech Research Group recently defined the six metrics that every CIO should consider.  We are sharing that list through the lens of CIOs working at professional associations and non-profits. 

  1. Employee Engagement 

Employee engagement measures the number of employees who feel empowered to complete purposeful activities related to their job each day.  Perhaps the biggest takeaway in gathering employee engagement metrics is that you must be willing to take actionable steps to address engagement. If your goal is creating an IT workforce of engaged and purpose-driven people, understanding what's important to your employees and ensuring that everyone is on the same page in terms of what is important is critical in doing so.  

One way to increase employee engagement significantly is by providing a positive work environment where people feel empowered to complete activities in line with their desired skillset and are tied to a clear purpose. When engagement is high not only will your employees have a positive disposition to their work, but they’ll also be committed and willing to contribute to the organization's success. Employee engagement leads to increases in innovation, productivity, performance, and teamwork; all while reducing the costs associated with high turnover. High employee engagement is truly a win-win for everyone involved.  

Here are some important questions you may want to consider when deciding on which metrics you want to gather: 

  • What is the tenure of IT employees at your organization? 
  • What number of employees are seeking out or using a training budget to enhance their knowledge or skills? 
  • What degree of autonomy do employees feel they have in their work daily? 
  • Are staff effectively using the collaboration tools provided to enable cross-department work? 

Once you have the information you need to make actionable decisions, you want to identify what is blocking empowerment. Common blockers include insufficient team collaboration, bureaucracy, inflexibility, and feeling unsupported and judged.  

  1. Member Satisfaction 

A good customer experience promotes loyalty while also helping you retain members.  Whether it’s directly or indirectly, the fact of the matter is that IT does have an influence on how satisfied a customer is with their product or service. When IT leaders take an interest in the member, it not only demonstrates that they are business-focused but also that they understand the intention of what the association is seeking to achieve. It’s clear that IT can and should be impacting the member experience in a positive way. This can be done by identifying operational redundancies and understanding the members' interaction with the association. 

Some metrics that can be identified to enhance the member and customer experience include measuring the amount of time that your CIO spends interacting directly with customers along with new member recruitment and retention rates. Steps to consider for enriching your consumer’s satisfaction include identifying the core IT capabilities that support the member experience. From the friction of the website login experience to the ease or complexity of the member renewal process or the annual conference registration or the mobile app experience, what direct impact is the association’s technology having on the member? You may want to suggest an IT-supported initiative designed to enhance the customer experience and meet business goals. Having quality operational metrics or dashboards can help determine what those initiatives should be.  

IT can have a real influence on the member experience. Being mindful of how IT both directly and indirectly impacts a member’s journey leads to opportunities for improvement. Gone are the days when IT was separated from the end customer. Today, it’s important to understand how IT can provide support and trustworthy interactions with members and customers. 

  1. Business Leadership Relations 

It’s never a good idea for the IT department to be siloed from the leadership team yet this is a common occurrence. Establishing trusted business partnerships is critical to demonstrating IT’s value. A good relationship with your executive leadership team (ELT) can alleviate issues if concerns about IT staff arise. Don’t let the value that IT offers be overlooked by the leadership team at your association.  

By building the key relationships necessary to drive trust and partnerships, the performance of your IT team will be recognized by the right people while also being a direct reflection of you as a leader. Some key relationships are worth forming with other leaders such as the Chief Finance Officer, the Membership Director, the Conference Director, and the Marketing Director. Some business relations metrics to establish include:  

  • The frequency with which peers on the leadership team complain about the IT department to their peers.  
  • The percentage of key leaders who trust IT to make the right choices for their accountable areas. 
  • The number of projects that are initiated with a desired solution versus problems with no desired solution. 

Once you’re ready to act, you can identify who the most influential members of the leadership team are along with what their primary goals or objectives may be. Be sure to always follow through on what you commit to delivering. Also, it’s important to offer a personalized approach. What works for one member of the team may not work for another. The bottom line is that establishing a network of influential business leaders means that IT will get you invited to the table with other leaders more often.  

  1. Managing a Budget 

Regardless of the industry, every IT department needs a budget in order to do its job effectively. Whether it’s security or finding innovative ways to maximize the association's products and services, IT has a lot of initiatives that demand funds and improve the association. The ability to spend within a defined budget is key to ensuring that your business trusts you. Combine that with reducing the cost of operational expenses while increasing spend on strategic initiatives, and it will be tough for your business to not see the value that IT holds.  

Some budget management metrics that are sure to demonstrate ITs ability to spend strategically include:

  • What proportion of the IT budget is strategic versus operational?  
  • What costs are required to lead the association through a digital transformation? 
  • Is there a reduction in operational spending due to retiring legacy solutions? 
  • What amount of money is spent keeping the lights on versus investing in new capabilities? 

Once you have these metrics in place, some actionable steps you can take include considering ways in which you can automate processes along with reducing the time and talent required to spend. It’s also useful to identify opportunities that can modernize or even digitize the association to enable better delivery of the products or services to the members.  

Reviewing the metrics that you’ve established and tying them back to running the association can reveal useful insights such as whether member satisfaction will increase, or maybe risk-related threats will decrease through an initiative IT is suggesting. If this is the case, you can justify increased strategic spending moving forward.  

If you can continue to demonstrate good use of the budget while continuing to drive value for the association, this will bring recognition in the form of an increased budget. 

  1. Risk Management 

When it comes to IT risks, the CIO is the one responsible for proactively planning for the prevention of said risks. This is especially true when it comes to cybersecurity. Actively managing IT risks means the opportunity to drive the association toward its vision and enabling informed risk decisions. The fact of the matter is that when negative impacts of an IT threat are explained in terms that can be understood by everyone within the organization, it increases the chances of receiving the necessary funding. 

It’s important to recognize that the impact of IT risks on your association cannot be ignored any further and organizations that have a clear risk tolerance can use their risk assessments to better inform decisions. 

Risk management metrics to consider include:  

  • How many critical IT threats were detected and prevented before impact to the organization? 
  • What’s the percentage of IT risks integrated into the organization’s risk management approach? 
  • Have there been risk management incidents that were not identified by your organization (and the potential financial impact of those risks)? 
  • Is there business satisfaction with IT actions to reduce the impact of negative IT risk events?

IT risks to your association cannot be ignored so once these metrics produce enough data, it’s time to jump into action. Creating a risk-aware culture with the entire company, not just IT, will help everyone understand how IT risks are preventable. You’ll also be able to clearly demonstrate both the financial and reputational impact of potential IT risks and ensure that this is communicated with decision-makers in the association. Be sure that the information gathered leads to recommended budget changes meant to help make risk-informed decisions. 

Ensuring that high-severity risks are identified, monitored, and prevented is going to prove that you’re able to mitigate threats to your association, making you an invaluable asset.  

  1. Delivering on Business Objectives 

Focus on delivering initiatives that bring value to your association. It’s common for CIOs to want to know how they are performing compared to their competitors, but benchmarking data does little when it comes to demonstrating that you understand your business and its goals. While it can seem nice to validate yourself against other associations, it’s important to remember that every organization will have a different set of goals it is striving toward, even if they are similar in staff and budget size. Therefore, benchmarking doesn’t provide insight into how well that organization performed against its goals.  

Instead, set your sights on how you can align IT initiatives to the vision of the association by asking:  

  • What’s the number of IT initiatives that have a significant impact on the success of the organization's goals? 
  • Which IT initiatives have exceeded the expected value? 
  • Has there been a positive impact ($) of IT initiatives on driving business innovation? 

Next, establish a dashboard of your IT metrics and align each of them to one or more of your business objectives. Be sure to communicate progress with the leadership team to make sure that they understand how your metric ties to the business objective. IT metrics should continue to speak in business terms, not IT terms. 

Wrapping IT Up 

As a CIO, the metrics that you use are vastly different from the ones used to measure the operational effectiveness of different IT functions. Metrics should be used as a tool to help inform future actions that will help reach your strategic vision. Having a defined set of metrics that support not only your career goals, but the association’s goals and its IT functions are crucial to your success. These metrics should consider everything from internal stakeholders to the board and members.  

Do you need help developing a IT strategic plan that aligns with your company culture? At Cimatri, we’re determined to connect the dots between IT strategy and results. We’re ready to help you simplify your IT by ensuring you have the right technology, processes, and people in place. Get in touch with us today and let’s get started! Visit to learn how.  

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