Every company makes substantial investments in IT. Even smaller businesses that do not think they rely heavily on IT will find their productivity declines rapidly when their technology refuses to work.
To date there has been no recognised framework for effectively managing technology investments and ensuring the organisation finds value and gains optimal returns on its IT. This changed in April 2006 when the IT Governance Institute (ITGI) released the first documents from its Val IT (achieving Value from IT) initiative.
This global initiative was developed to assist organisations in realising optimal value from their IT investments. It is a governance framework consisting of a set of guiding principles and a number of processes conforming to best practices in the governance of IT investments.
According to the ITGI, “Val IT addresses assumptions, costs, risks and outcomes related to a balanced portfolio of IT-enabled investments, provides a benchmarking capability and allows enterprises to exchange experiences on best practices for value management.”
Organisations around the world continue to make significant IT-enabled business investments to sustain, grow and transform critical areas of their businesses. The ITGI team found that such investments, when managed within an effective governance framework, provide organisations with significant opportunities to create value.
Without an effective governance and management framework, these investments can also erode or destroy value, as they no longer meet the changing requirements of the business.
Not about IT solutions
A key lesson the framework offers is that IT investment is no longer only about implementing solutions. It is increasingly about implementing IT-enabled change. This implies greater complexity and risk than has historically been the case, which means the management practices traditionally applied are no longer sufficient.
With the correct governance and management processes, IT-enabled business investments can bring huge rewards. Effective governance starts with leadership commitment and support from the top. Such leadership while critical is, however, not enough.
Val IT supports business leadership by providing a comprehensive management framework with a full complement of supporting processes and other guidance materials. These have been developed to help the board and executive management understand and carry out their roles as they relate to IT-enabled business investments.
The new framework provides a one-stop, credible and codified source to support the creation of real business value from IT-enabled investments. It is of relevance to all management levels across both business and IT: from the CEO and the C-suite to those directly involved in the selection, procurement, development, implementation, deployment and benefits realisation processes.
Moreover, this is not a standalone framework that business IT users need to somehow incorporate into their existing management processes. Val IT extends and compliments Control Objectives for Information and related Technology (COBIT), which is jointly promoted by ITGI and the Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA) and provides a comprehensive control framework for IT governance.
Val IT focuses on investment decisions, such as: are we doing the right things and are we realising the benefits? COBIT, in turn, focuses on the execution, namely; are we doing it the correct way and how well are we getting things done?
The two frameworks therefore support and rely on each other in assisting companies in making the right IT-based decisions, followed by the correct implementation and support processes, which should lead to the realisation of measurable benefits at the end of the day.
The framework is available to all ISACA and ITGI members. The Val IT documents, covering the framework, the business case and a case study are available from http://www.itgi.org
Andre February, managing
consultant at Fujitsu Services SA