Calls for new metrics to gauge success of IT projects

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Calls for new metrics to gauge success of IT projects

Strategist criticises “over time, over budget” assessments.

A State Government strategist has called for ICT projects to be assessed by the benefits they delivered, rather than by how closely they adhered to time and budget estimates.

Speaking at the Gartner ITxpo this week, Terry Wright of the Victorian Department of Treasury and Finance raised concerns that "good things will be stopped" under those criteria.

The concept of a transformational IT project "failing" based on time and budget alone was flawed, he said, noting that human users often complicated matters.

Wright recommended that organisations establish objective measures of benefits, using the department's Investment Management Standard as an example.

The standard has evolved since 2004 and requires organisations to develop one-page "Investment Logic Maps" that clearly identified problems, assets required and benefits of an investment.

Organisations were also urged to embark on two-hour "informed discussions" with executives and stakeholders, in which each statement could be supported by evidence.

"The whole idea of benefits is vexed," Wright said today, describing educators' ill-defined goals of "better learning outcomes" and crime-fighters' goals of "catching crooks".

"You shouldn't be doing anything in the organisation where you can't say, 'here is the line of sight to what we'd like to achieve'," he said.

The standard was increasingly used in the Victorian government, with 72 percent of projects now supported by logic maps, and 32 percent with benefits management plans.

While the standard was not mandatory, "those [organisations] who use it get the money," Wright said.

He said the approach applied to any project valued over $10,000, noting that his three-person team used it prior to any project expected to take more than a week.

Many of those projects were scrapped as a result, he said.

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