IT Architects™ Benefits Attainment

The track record of IT is uneven and it is hard for business decision makers to figure out what makes for a successful IT investment. Many organizations do not realize the business value from IT until after the dollars have been spent. Furthermore, expertise and experience in the area of measuring benefit is based on qualitative uncertainties without a structured quantitative benchmark. The  IT Architects™ Benefits Attainment framework provides a robust quantitative model to determine the value of a target IT solution.

Although there are uncertainties or gaps in the “To-Be” IT solution, these uncertainties are quantified using both a probability and risk rating. However, the organization must be aware that the qualitative benefits are extremely important from a strategic standpoint even if the operational efficiencies are not readily measurable. Regardless, qualitative benefits support quantitative forecasts, and can sometimes mean the difference if they add perceived value to the customer. Management sometimes makes the mistake of undermining the qualitative benefits when it is forced to quantify these benefits to a financial assessment committee or their corporate accounting department.

IT Architects has developed a technique to help clients prepare a comprehensive and accurate model of their organization’s benefits attainment process. This technique, known as a Results Chain, enables organizations to prepare “road maps” that support understanding and proactive management of the four dimensions of complexity (linkage, reach, people and time) throughout the benefits attainment process. The Results Chain demonstrates the desired outcomes and the possible paths that can be taken to reach those outcomes. It is continually revised to monitor and communicate progress and to assess the impact of changes over time.

There are many questions that need to be asked as we develop the Results Chain and try to assess the relative value of paths and programs. A structured framework is needed to organize the questions and instruments to provide more objectivity to the answers, permitting comparable measurement of the answers.

IT Architects has developed a structured framework, the ITA Benefits Attainment Framework, to support the Results Chain that addresses four key questions:

1. Is the organization doing the right things? This question addresses
the definition (or redefinition) of business, of business direction and
the alignment of programs and the overall business investment
portfolio with that direction.

2. Is the organization doing them the right way? This question
addresses organizational structure and process, and the
integration of programs within that structure and process.

3. Is the organization getting them done well? This question
addresses organizational capability, the resources available
and supporting infrastructure required to get work done efficiently.

4. Is the organization getting the benefits? This question addresses
the proactive management of the benefits realization process as
a whole.

To be truly useful in the benefits attainment process, we have to drive these questions down to a greater level of detail and incorporate them into measurement instruments that are practical, easy to apply and that allow some degree of consistent – and therefore comparable – measurement.

Organizations in many sectors are using the benefits attainment approach to manage risk, improve returns and harvest increased benefits from IT-enabled business transformation. In short, this approach introduces a new benefits mindset about IT that focuses on integrating technology with the business process, organizational and people elements of an organization’s business system.

IT Architects has used the Results Chain and its ITA Benefits Attainment Framework to assess the value of various business process redesign and IT solution initiatives. We truly strive to help management answer questions like: “Where are the business results? When will we reap the benefits of IT? And how? How do we get more bang for our IT buck?”