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Balanced Scorecards for the DBA

Level 17

As 2014 draws to a close, I’ve been reflecting on the year and finishing up my planning for 2015. I started thinking about how we could all better measure our alignment with business goals.

I struck up a conversation with Karen Lopez datachick and we both agreed that scorecards seem to be all the rage these days. We are inundated with widgets, KPIs, and dashboards. With each passing day we have access to more data, which means we need to continue building ways to interpret that data.

But what we don't see happening enough these days is some good old-fashioned introspection, specifically with regards to our careers as data professionals. All of the data that we can collect and yet we continue to overlook the pieces that are most critical.

Let's change that. I want to build a scorecard that we can use as a way to evaluate ourselves and our teams.

Looking at the traditional IT Balanced Scorecard we find four areas defined:

  1. Corporate contribution
  2. Customer (User) orientation
  3. Operational excellence
  4. Future orientation

I believe we can find the right questions and measurements for a balanced scorecard for a DBA. For example, one question for future orientation might be "how often are you learning new things?"

What questions would you want to include in such a scorecard? How would you want to build out the right measures? For example, should the measure be based upon observations or perhaps a peer review?

Leave your thoughts in the comments.

Level 12

I'd think the primary measures for Operational Excellence would be based on database uptime RTO, RPO and uptime stats.  Maybe a measure of planned outages versus unplanned, duration, and scope.  I think it would be important to realize that expectations (SLAs) are likely more important in these measures that some sort of grade total uptime.

Level 17

I like those examples for operational excellence. But what about volume? Being able to meet the defined SLAs for 5 servers is a different skill level than doing the same for 500 servers.

About the Author
Thomas LaRock is a Head Geek at SolarWinds and a Microsoft® Certified Master, SQL Server® MVP, VMware® vExpert, and a Microsoft Certified Trainer. He has over 20 years experience in the IT industry in roles including programmer, developer, analyst, and database administrator.