by Lafe Low

Who’s Accountable for Deriving I.T. Value

Nov 01, 20032 mins
IT Leadership

Who’s responsible for achieving the intended value of an IT project? It’s the origin and goals of an IT project that determine both who is held accountable for achieving value and which factors are used to measure value, according to a recent CIO survey of 118 IT executives. Here are three conclusions from the survey.

1 Project sponsors are accountable for IT value in tandem with CIOs.

Shared accountability between business and IT leaders is the most common structure. The CIO is always part of the equation, but if it’s an HR project, for example, the vice president of HR would likely be the project sponsor and also be held accountable for value. If it’s a finance project, it may be the CFO who shares accountability.

Thirty-four percent of survey respondents said CIOs are accountable for ensuring that IT projects achieve value, while 15 percent said a business unit sponsor is responsible. Even more—44 percent—said it’s a shared burden.

B. Lee Jones, vice president of IT and CIO of Stratex Networks, says his company’s Oracle ERP rollout began with its financial component. “So the project sponsor was the CFO, and the project lead was the corporate controller.”

2 Customer satisfaction determines project success.

Happy users are effective users (see chart, below). The customer is the primary focus of our surveyed CIOs. Internal customer satisfaction topped the list with 78 percent considering it one of their top three measures for determining value. External customer satisfaction was cited by 56 percent, making it third on the priority list. “We survey our [internal] customers on improved service levels,” says Jeff Chasney, executive vice president and CIO of CKE Restaurants. “If, indeed, we saved a bunch of money but our services are terrible, then we didn’t save much.”

3 Staying under budget plays a strong second fiddle.

Staying at or under budget was the second most popular determining factor, with 57 percent listing it as one of their top three most important project value measures. Fifty-one percent of survey respondents cited improved productivity.

“We are definitely more financially focused than we were four or five years ago,” says Derek White, vice president of IT for the SmithGroup Cos. “Part of that is the economy, and part is more cohesive management.”