Making Technology Investments Profitable: ROI Road Map from Business Case to Value Realization is a book about maximizing the true value of IT projects and technology investments. Unlike so many other books on CIO and IT success, Jack Keen focuses on the absolute core issue for all success – how to deliver maximum business value from IT enabled projects. Keen tackles this question by focusing our attention on how to identify and stop the “value leaks” while offering over 30 specific and easy to implement techniques.
Keen points out early on the mistake often made by IT departments is they become overly focused on the mechanics of IT projects of being on time and on budget instead of being more focused on being “on value” with the true value of the business case.
The process orientation leads to value leaks occurring at every stage of an IT project beginning with its business case and is often the underlying source of issues of not being on time or on budget and failed value realization.
Keen describes value leaks as those moments when their is an opportunity for a benefit to be realized but it isn’t. Keen provides lots of specific examples and a few case studies of where value leaks occur and how to avoid them.
Starting with the business case for technology investments and IT projects, Keen demonstrates strategies for improving the ‘trustworthiness’ of the business case. This involves ensuring that true value isn’t overlooked (re: missed) or overstated. And ultimately, how to best ensure every proposed project receives fair consideration.
Keen emphasizes the importance of finding the hidden value of proposed technology investments. Keen addresses the importance of accounting for the intangibles of a IT project offering several strategies for treating intangibles in the business case.
With several detailed templates and techniques for evaluating the business case of an IT project, Keen describes a comprehensive process, in simple detail, how to evaluate unrelated IT project proposals and technology investments for funding.
This is the section of the book targeted at IT governance and IT program management so that higher value projects get approved ahead of lower value projects. This section also addresses creating transparency in the IT project selection process and rationale for funding technology investments.
Of course Making Technology Investments Profitable also addresses how track and manage active projects for their status in being ‘on value’. Again, Keen provides lots of insights and techniques for avoiding value leaks through every stage of the IT project lifecycle.
Keen includes several strategies for tracking value realization of IT projects that can be easily adapted into any organization. This is particularly important given how significant the value leaks can be once the IT project phases is complete and the traditional governance efforts move on to the rest of the project portfolio.
For many organizations the value realization tracking function rests with the audit function but can easily be adapted to work within the IT governance framework using Keen’s value audit model.
Overall, this is one of those books where you know within the first few pages the author really knows his stuff . That’s because the information is well-reasoned, grounded in professional experience, and easy to read. Keen uses a lot of strong visuals, simple explanations, some case studies, and plenty of ideas for quick wins.
I definitely recommend Making Technology Investments Profitable: ROI Road Map from Business Case to Value Realization for executive and IT management team’s reading list. I also think this is a perfect read for IT Governance committees especially if there are issues with demonstrating the value of IT projects of larger issues with IT project performance. I might even encourage using a facilitated discussion just ahead of developing your FY13 project portfolio.
There is one more item I wanted to share with you from my notes that really punctuates an underlying messages in the book. That is, there are hundreds of management decisions to be made on every IT investment, even small IT projects, each of which open up opportunities for errors and value leaks. Yet, most organizations devote very little time or process on improving the quality of these decisions only to wonder after the fact as to the results.