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The Mother of Invention

The Mother of Invention

If necessity is the mother of invention, then principal strategist in the commercial division of the Victorian Department of Treasury and Finance Terry Wright reckons she raises brilliant children.

Wright is one of the architects of the Victorian government's Investment Management Standard and Investment Logic Maps, and says the outcome of both has been simply "flabbergasting".

Developed over a four year period by Victorian government's Office of the CIO charged with ensuring the government gained value out of its IT investments, and unique in the world, the process is evidently doing a brilliant job of ensuring the executive team is 'on the same page' with the organization's major IT investments. It has now been taken up by a range of private sector consultants who see it delivering them a major competitive edge in their quest for assignments.

"It grew out of need being the mother of invention, and the fact that when the Office of the CIO was created in the Department of Premier and Cabinet a high-powered government subcommittee was set up to oversee it aimed at saying: are we getting value for our spend of IT dollars," Wright says. And they directed that a benefits framework be established to convince them that they were getting value for money for ICT.

So the first question was value for money, and the second question was is ICT driving out the maximum benefit?" Wright says. "We sat in the middle of the budget process as this evolved over four years, and when it started we were just getting the Treasury people passing what they saw as ICT investments or potential IT investments coming through. Initially it was just broadband stuff or buying computers. But by the end we had access to all the budget bids so we could comment on whether each bid was exploiting the enabling capabilities of ICT."

The standard, designed to lower investment costs, improve delivered benefits and build strategic capability in ICT projects, has now been extended to most items of government expenditure and is delivering both major process savings and benefits.

"So it allowed us over that four-year period to look at all investments and advise government on which should or should not be funded."

Wright's comments came as research group Ovum praised the initiative as a way to sheet home accountability for outcomes with the business.

IT investments have become clouded in a fog of complexity, with business cases comprising a cornucopia of detail but often failing to secure the understanding and support of the executive team," says Dr Steve Hodgkinson, Ovum Research Director within the IT public sector.

"The problem is that organizations have become preoccupied with managing IT as projects and lose sight of the common sense business logic of the investment. We need simpler techniques to manage the lifecycle of an investment to create business value, not just better ways to manage projects. This means finding new ways to engage and sustain the attention of executives who are interested in understanding and delivering business value. "

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