Strategic vs. operational information needsby Erik Hoffmann on Feb 1st, 2007
I believe, from a strategic perspective, IT stakeholders are interested in trends and aggregation of information, and even better in a combination of both. Trending allows focussing on improvement initiatives and tracking quality issues. Aggregation of information allows viewing the performance information from “top to bottom” with the ability to drill-down into problem areas. To help with strategic decision-making, key performance indicators (KPIs) are laid down to assess the present state of the business and to prescribe a course of action.
In my experience, the information needs from a strategic perspective differs from operational information needs. On operational level the information needs circle around lists of “things-to-do”, statusses of routers, servers or services, or re-active email alerts. The operation is basically focused on keeping the IT systems running, and its information needs are focused on doing that as efficiently and effectively as possible.
In between sits a somewhat ‘gray’ area: the tactical level. This level has its focus on short term, smaller objectives. The tactical level probably needs a combination of tracking trends in metrics (for short-term measurement of objectives), and access to operational information for decision-making.
In most IT organizations a number of reporting tools are used to serve each of these layers. However, at Mirror42 we notice that the information needs on strategic level are in most companies fulfilled by ‘cut & paste’ activities in Excel or Powerpoint. That does seem very inefficient, but foremost it leaves room for error (and in some case, gaming). So the question is why strategic management is investing in (in most cases not-up-to-date) reports, and is most likely making decisions based on error prone information.