Perceptions Count - Big Time
Critical to creating meaningful metrics for IT is dealing with perceptions regarding IT's performance and value to the organization. For the CIO, managing perceptions can be a full-time job. Often there needs to be metrics established to create a factual history of performance in order to persuade the CEO, CIO peers and users that the perceived performance of IT is not in reality the actual performance. In the absence of facts, perceptions are the facts.
This is why it is so important that the CIO and his management team have a clear and accurate understanding of how they and the IT organization are perceived. There is nothing wrong with a "damage control" metric, one that restores IT credibility within the organization. In truth, if IT is not seen as credible or trustworthy, then all metrics should be focused on restoring credibility. It really doesn't matter if the perceptions are accurate or not. The only thing that matters is that IT cannot be effective within an organization if it is not seen as credible and competent.
Perhaps taking the credibility temperature of IT is the best place to begin the IT metrics process. Taking the time to engage the organization to find out what they see are the strengths and weaknesses of the IT organization and then designing performance goals around improving deficiencies while maintaining strengths is the fastest way to establish IT's goals and supporting metrics.