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Analysis: Invest in Tech as you Would Stocks and Bonds

The IT Governance Institute introduces Val IT.
IT projects should be treated as business-change projects enabled by IT, and the leaders of the affected business unit or units should be accountable for achieving specific project benefits laid out in advance. This is the core principle of Val IT, a new framework introduced by the IT Governance Institute (ITGI) and based on the non-profit group's widely adopted COBIT framework for IT Governance.

"Val IT recommends a portfolio-type approach to managing IT investments," says Everett Johnson, international president of ITGI. "That means you'll do something about the investments that aren't delivering the desired results, much as you would stocks in your own investment portfolio."

To size up IT projects before and after the investment decision, the Val IT framework offers a series of strategic, architectural, delivery and business-value analyses (see chart below) that answer four key questions: are we doing the right things, are we doing them the right way, are we getting the projects done well and are we realizing the benefits?

Offering best practices and guidance designed to compliment COBIT, Val IT is delivered through three publications (downloadable at ITGI.org): a framework document setting out principles, a booklet on how to develop an effective business case and realistic benefit statements, and a case study based on the application of these principles at ING. The global financial services giant found that IT investments could deliver a much higher rate of return than conventional investments such as real estate or equities, but it kept a close watch on IT projects with a management process aimed at terminating projects early when they're not headed for success. Says Johnson, "that's something that rarely happens in many businesses."


VAL IT EXAMINES FOUR KEY AREAS

STRATEGY ARCHITECTURE DELIVERY VALUE
Is investment: Is investment: Do we have: Do we have:
* In line with vision?
* In line with architecture?
* Effective change
management?
* Clear understanding of
benefits?
* Consistent with business? * Consistent with
architecture principles?
* Competent tech. &
bus. resources to deliver:
* Clear accountability
for benefits?
* Contributing to objectives? * Contributing to
fulfillment of architecture?
- Required capabilities? * Relevant metrics?
* Providing value at
acceptable risk?
* In line with other
initiatives?
- Required org. changes? * Effective realization
process?
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Joao-Pierre S. Ruth, Senior Writer