I.T. Services And Functions

Benchmarking Map

I.T. organisations are large and varied. There is no one-size-fits-all set of metrics which can be used everywhere. Different functions and services provided by I.T. need different metrics.

There are as many different ways of sub-dividing I.T. as there are I.T. organisations. There are, however, some common patterns. METRIPEDIA defines 30 different activities commonly found in an I.T. organisation. These are shown in the Benchmarking Map below. They are not defined by process, as ITIL and COBIT are. Instead they are grouped by the different services which I.T. provides, since metrics need to be customised to each service. The metrics catalogued by METRIPEDIA are organised into these 30 activities, and by type of metric. I believe that 90% of I.T. organisations will recognise 90% of their activities in the Benchmarking Map.


Application Management

Application Management activities define the most common business systems that I.T. provides - mostly horizontal applications which are found in similar forms across all vertical industry sectors. Such applications include:

  • R&D applications used by Research & Development teams, examples being Fluid Dynamic simulations, Monte Carlo simulations, Computer Aided Design, etc
  • Vertical Line Of Business Applications: those applications which are specific to a single vertical industry sector such as insurance, banking, retailing, and so on. Examples include policy management and claims management in insurance, trading systems in banking, point of sale systems in retail, billing systems in the telecoms industry, or in manufacturing those systems for production planning and materials management.
  • Finance Applications: applications providing financial reporting for the organisation: General or Nominal Ledger, Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, Treasury and/or cash management, and so on.
  • HR Applications: applications supporting the Human Resources department, including payroll, staffing and recruitment, employee benefits management, and employee self-service portals
  • Purchasing Applications: applications supporting the ordering and purchasing of new items: supplier management, purchase requisitions, purchase ordering, delivery management, and supplier payment
  • PSA (Professional Services Automation) Applications: applications which record where time is spent by workers in order to drive either payroll or customer billing systems
  • Sales Force Automation Applications: applications which track potential future customers and the contacts made by the sales force to win new business, including direct marketing databases, contact lists, contact management, and sales order entry
  • CRM & Contact Centres: applications which track existing customers and the contacts made by customer services to deliver orders and provide customer services. This activity also includes integration of customer contact centres with the rest of the I.T. services such as the voice network, or Computer Telephony Integration linking to CRM applications running in a Data Centre.
  • IT Projects & Development: this activity delivers projects which build new applications, integrate purchased applications, or carry out large revisions or modifications of existing applications: usually proactively in response to requests from business managers
  • Application Maintenance: this activity provides small scale bug fixing and minor enhancements to existing applications, usually reactively in response to requests from users
  • Application Operations: this activity provides day-to-day operation of applications such as user administration, user or group privileges, parameter modification, second level problem resolution, and so on.

I.T. Management

I.T. Management & Strategy

I.T. Management & Strategy activities provide leadership and direction to the rest of the I.T. organisation. CIOs and IT Directors can be found here, as can I.T. Architecture & Strategy teams, I.T. Finance, I.T. Service Management, Quality, and cross-functional security teams.

User Computing

User Computing activities provide users with the personal computers and communications applications through which they access other I.T. services. This includes:

  • Office Applications, such as word processing and spreadsheets
  • Mail & Collaboration, covering both email applications such as Exchange and Notes, and also knowledge sharing applications such as Notes databases, Sharepoints, and Instant Messenging systems, as well as chat or instant messaging systems.
  • Desktop & Mobility, providing personal computer hardware (both desktop and laptop), along with the operating systems, anti-virus utilities, and other system software needed to operate a PC
  • Infrastructure Servers, such as file servers, print servers, log-in servers, network address servers, and any other server without which the desltop environment will not work properly
  • Service Desk (or Help Desks)which provide a first point of contact for users to report and resolve problems, and to place requests for I.T. services.


Network activities provide the communications infrastructure which links users and the computers operated by an I.T. organisation. This includes:

  • Voice: telephone systems, both fixed-line and mobile, provided to users
  • LAN: Local Area Network: the part of a network which links all the computers within any one site
  • WAN: Wide Area Network: the part of a network which links all the sites where users or computers are located
  • DC LAN/Network Perimeter: the part of the network which links to other networks and protects against interference from them. This would include, for example, firewalls, DMZs, gateways to other networks, protocol converters, encryption devices, and internet caches. It would also include the Local Area Network provided in a Data Centre.

Central I.T. Operations

These activities operate the servers and shared computers on which applications run. More often than not, these servers are located centrally in a Data Centre or server room. Even when they are not located centrally, they are very often managed from a central point. Activities include:

  • Console Operations: an operations control room from which servers are monitored and managed, often routing alerts to second or third level teams for action
  • Super Computing: provision of very high performance computers, often running compute-intensive research applications
  • Mainframe: provides IBM-compatible mainframes
  • Proprietary Midrange Servers: provides servers running proprietary operating systems such as OS/400, VMS, and so on
  • Unix Servers: provides servers running open operating systems such as Unix or Linux
  • Windows Servers: provides servers running the Windows operating system.
  • Storage: provides an infrastructure of shared disk and tape resources to all servers
  • Data Centre Hosting: provides an infrastructure of building space, power, cooling, and physical security in which servers are located.

Functions Missing From The Benchmarking Map
No model is perfect in mapping to all I.T. organisations. While the Benchmarking Map is as good as any other, there are some common I.T. activities and applications which are not explicitly listed:

  • Security
  • User Id Administration
  • Data Warehouses and/or Data Marts

In addition, starting to write Metripedia has made it clear that I may need to reconsider some options:

  • Database Management should probably be called out as a seperate function, not hidden in Application Operations
  • You could probably say the same about SAP Basis management
  • There is a strong case for combining all the server platforms into one "Server Management". This would avoid diving into the detail of different operating systems in a way which is probably more detailed than most readers need. It would also reduce the overall number of metrics to write, and would allow a detailed discussion of Servers per FTE before getting into the evidence about productivity on different platforms.

A future page edit will explain where metrics for these activities can be found in METRIPEDIA.

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