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IT Investment

How info tech can propel business opportunities

FACT: Businesses invest money in order to make money

BY ADVANTUM

it-investment

In this, the information age, significant spending on information technology (IT) projects is commonplace. This being said, employing a ‘hit and hope’ approach to one’s major IT investments brings with it a high degree of uncertainty.

Businesses must understand that benefits will not magically appear when a new technology is delivered; it evolves over time and requires commitment. As with any other business process, realizing IT investment benefits requires consistent management.

The maritime industry is no different. Will the ‘learning lag’, as well as difficulty measuring benefits, prevent us from deriving the full benefit of these significant IT investments?

Benefits Realization

Gartner, the world’s leading IT research and advisory company, defines Benefits Realization as the discipline that organizations adopt to maximize the business value of projects and investments.

Benefits Realization allows senior management to see how specific investments align with the business so they are better able to understand the total impact on the business operations.

Unless today’s business experts and IT professionals engage in a mix of understanding how IT can propel business opportunities and results, they will continue to trot with a myopic view of the wonders of ‘technology’ with little regard for its net contribution to the operations of the organization.

While IT continues to absorb a large chunk of capital investment, it would appear that such investments are not meeting the promise of producing the expected business results as purported by John Thorp in his book ‘The Information Paradox: Realizing the Business Benefits of Information Technology’.
In recent times, local and regional IT service providers have quickly migrated to the ‘cloud’ as a means of cost containment, transfer of risk and accessibility and, ultimately, easier management. Once organizations are comfortable with this form of outsourcing, IT managers will instead manage agreements and contracts rather than local area network, servers, etc.

Easy as one, two, three

Managers and IT professionals can, should and must drive transformation in their organizations to increase the delivery of promised benefits. According to Ben Chamberlain, they can begin by taking three important steps.

1. Shift focus: think benefits v. investments
Recognize that business has to own and control the investment; business owners must be involved with investment decisions. Investment considerations and systems should measure and demonstrate how projects directly contribute to improving specific business metrics. After all, it’s your business that has to own and manage the investment and associated decisions.

2. Avoid fragmenting investments: integrate instead
Assemble a process that facilitates the evaluation and management of your company’s investment programs. Use this system to identify what improvements or investments will result in the improvement necessary to meet business objectives. Then improve or apply benefits realization techniques incrementally.

3. Augment control systems: Benefits Realization v. Project Portfolio Management
Extend the investment control mechanism to measure how cost and benefits are impacted by lifecycle project decisions. All organizations have a benefits realization process. What’s unfortunate is that it is often a passive process and one that is not managed. The Benefits Realization Approach provides a clear road map illustrating the paths that lead to beneficial results. This not only tells management how to embark on IT-enabled change, but makes clear the capabilities required to realize those benefits.

It is vital that more companies adopt the Benefits Realization Approach to IT investment to enable improved monitoring and increasing pressure to avoid poor investments and deliver business value. Start using the Benefits Realization Approach today to enhance the value delivery on your investments.

 

Sources:

Gartner
Benefits Realization: The Gift That Keeps On Giving
1 September 2011
www.gartner.com/doc/1786314/executive-summary-benefits-realization-gift

Ben Chamberlain
9 April 2014
Three Steps Toward Benefits Realization
www.umt360.com/blog/index.php/tag/investment-decisions

John Thorp
The Information Paradox: Realizing the Business Benefits of Information Technology
www.fujitsu.com/caribbean/images/information_paradox_complete_2007.pdf