Benefits Realization from IS & IT, and Change Management of roles and the working practices of individuals and teams.

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1 : Delivering Value from IS & IT Investments John Ward and Elizabeth Daniel John Wiley & Son Ltd ISBN: , 399 pages Theme of the Book This book explores a process and practical tools and frameworks that organizations can use to improve the creation of value from their investments in information systems (IS), in particular those systems enabled by information technology (IT). The book is entitled Benefits Management to make clear the inherent interdependency between: Benefits Realization from IS & IT, and Change Management of roles and the working practices of individuals and teams. Not only is the management of changes to human processes and practices essential for benefits realization, the authors have found that the benefits sought do not always require investment in additional IT, but can be realised with existing systems and technology if only the appropriate changes to staff working practices could be achieved. This focus means that the book serves as a generic text on realizing benefits from any organizational investment, although IS & IT investments are discussed specifically.

2 Benefits management is examined at strategic, organizational/operational and project/change levels, with each chapter of the book representing a step in a process as depicted in the following diagram: Knowledge Interchange Book Summaries Page 2

3 Key Learning Points It is essential to understand any investment in IS/IT capability in terms of the benefits that investment would enable for the organization; creating a benefits dependency network with key stakeholders is essential work for any managed change. The benefits management approach described in this book is entirely complementary to all the mainstream methods and processes for managed change through projects and programmes. The business case for an investment must include the strategic drivers for the change and all the costs and risks associated with achieving the benefits. The financial appraisal can only be a part of such a business case unless all benefits are measurable in financial terms. Benefits will never be realized if stakeholders are not identified, consulted and engaged to create the human and organizational changes necessary to implement the new IS/IT capabilities. Exploitation of IS/IT is a key challenge for most organizations; this book provides a vehicle for addressing this issue. Knowledge Interchange Book Summaries Page 3

4 Chapter 1: The Challenge of IS/IT Investments The book starts by highlighting conflicting advice from commentators about the value of IT in creating sustained competitive advantage for organizations. A number of well-known companies illustrate where IT has clearly been an enabler for growth and success, for example UPS, Amazon and Dell. In Carr s Harvard Business Review article from 2003, the claim that IT doesn t matter was provocatively made, backed up with examples of organizations that have invested in innovative IT, wrongly believing this would deliver competitive advantage, when in fact technology and technical IT skills could no longer do this. The only IT related factor that can provide a sustained advantage is the ability to conceive of, develop and exploit IT applications to support or enhance other business functions. Farrell (2003, also in Harvard Business Review) concluded that organizations looking to invest in IS & IT should look to where such investment would increase productivity. General-purpose applications, for example Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems have tended to yield poor results in the past. IS & IT adoption has tended to have most impact on productivity when it is accompanied by managerial and organizational changes. As markets become increasingly dynamic, greater organizational agility, the ability to change frequently and rapidly, is required. Whilst agility is not dependent on IS/IT, in reality this is often the only practical means of creating the speed and accuracy required. Generic benefits from IT are listed as efficiency (lower cost), accuracy (quality) and speed. Some specific benefits are tangible (quantitative & financial) such as cost avoidance; others are intangible (qualitative) such as increased customer satisfaction. Some investments will yield dis-benefits (adverse effects) such as job losses for some members of staff. Knowledge Interchange Book Summaries Page 4

5 Because benefits from IS & IT investments tend to be a combination of quantitative/financial and qualitative in nature, reliance solely on traditional financial investment appraisal techniques, such as net present value, make for potentially flawed investment decisions. The business case for a project must take into account all the benefits and dis-benefits enabled by the investment. A business pull rather than technology push approach to IS/IT investments will take account of the people involved and give as much attention to change management as to technology implementation. The conclusions are that IS & IT can deliver tangible organizational benefits that enable a differentiated and sustained value, but only when IT and human IT exploitation coincide. Chapter 2: Understanding the Strategic Context The strategic context for IS/IT investment decisions is explored by reference to mainstream strategic paradigms. Summarising these different approaches to strategy formulation, the competitive forces view is referred to as the ends an organization wants to achieve. The resource-based view is referred to as the means a firm can draw upon. Capability alignment views and the creation of dynamic capabilities is referred to as the ways in which the firm can operate. Firms should see IT as a means only, although the human capabilities to exploit IT quickly and effectively could well be a way in which an organization could create a dynamic capability. PEST analysis is also a way of beginning to understand stakeholders and their drivers for, or against, the changes that any IS/IT investment will inevitably create. The chapter goes on to explore further the relationship between external (to the organization) and internal contexts and relates these Knowledge Interchange Book Summaries Page 5

6 to the competences required for organizational survival, success and prosperity. The linkages between business, IS and IT strategies for an organization can be expressed in this diagram: Chapter 3: The Foundations of Benefits Management Surveys undertaken with major organizations identified specific organizational information competences. Of six major competence areas, one was particularly weak. The six are: Business Strategy, Define the IS Contribution, Define the IT Capability, Supply, Deliver Solutions and Exploitation; exploitation is reported as the competence area least well developed. Exploitation is defined as the ability to recognize the desired benefits. Benefits management links to other necessary elements for successful business change: by putting it at the centre of a web, benefits management is surrounded and supported by investment appraisal, risk management, project Knowledge Interchange Book Summaries Page 6

7 management, systems development, change management and overall programme and portfolio management all support strategic plans. Five stages, listed below, are outlined and these should be interwoven into the wider methodologies and processes used by the organization. The benefits management process is complementary, rather than a replacement, and is intended to add value by ensuring that decisions throughout the life of an investment are benefits based. Identifying and structuring the benefits Planning benefits realization Executing the benefits plan Reviewing and evaluating the results Establishing potential for further benefits This is a different approach to ones used traditionally for IS/IT focused projects. Without a benefits focus an organization takes the chance that they will invest to implement technology and processes that will not be used by staff and therefore return no incremental value Chapter 4: Establishing the Why, What and How This chapter introduces and describes the use of some of the tools and frameworks that enable key questions posed for a particular investment to be answered, i.e. Why is the investment being made? What types of benefit is the organization expecting to achieve? How can a combination of business changes and IT deliver those benefits? Knowledge Interchange Book Summaries Page 7

8 This chapter comprehensively describes the use and practical application of a few key tools that must be used in advance of the finalisation of the business case for the investment. The segmentation of typical drivers for different application types is useful as it begins to elicit likely benefit areas. STRATEGIC DRIVERS Competitive pressures, market requirements etc HIGH POTENTIAL Innovative ideas to create new capabilities and/or markets KEY OPERATIONAL Improved effectiveness, rationalization, regulatory response SUPPORT Efficiency improvements through automation The benefits dependency network is a primary tool. Sometimes called the benefits map, this model shows the linkages between strategic investment drivers and the IS/IT enablers that are required to bring about the necessary business changes and business benefits. This approach, which is similar in purpose and structure to functional analysis from value management, answers the two key questions for any investment. Why? and How? By joining up the logic between why and how, a simple network can be constructed that becomes the path to benefit realization through the effective implementation and exploitation of IS/IT. A depiction of the benefits dependency network is shown below. Knowledge Interchange Book Summaries Page 8

9 Chapter 5: Building the Business Case Building a business case needs to go significantly further than some traditional approaches focused only on doing only what is necessary to get the funding for a significant financial investment. Drawing on a good understanding of strategic drivers, and the linkages between IS/IT enablers and benefits of strategic value (the benefits dependency network), the authors advocate business cases that explicitly address the benefits (and why they are needed) and stakeholders (what is in it for them). Much emphasis is placed on maintaining the dependency between desired benefits and required changes to realize them in the business case. A structure is outlined which effectively balances not just the cost vs. benefit trade-offs for the investment, but a three-way trade-off of benefits vs. costs vs. investment risks. So the business case must quantify: Knowledge Interchange Book Summaries Page 9

10 1. Drivers for change, giving rise to 2. Investment objectives, which result in 3. Benefits from doing new things, doing things better or stopping doing things, and incur 4. Costs a. Purchases b. Development c. Infrastructure d. Business change e. Ongoing 5. Investment risks a. Technical b. Financial c. Business change and organizational A number of references are made to other well-established approaches to risk analysis and management including checklists of investment risk factors, and a useful consideration of how risks vary across the application portfolio In all, the chapter makes a compelling case for close attention to all aspects of the business case as a way of driving good investment decisions. Chapter 6: Stakeholder and Change Management Investments need to find a fair balance between the firm and its stakeholders to addressing how this can be done. The case for close attention to stakeholders and change management has been well made from the start of the book, so this chapter is dedicated A number of methods for conducting stakeholder analysis are shared and discussed practically. Knowledge Interchange Book Summaries Page 10

11 One 2x2 grid used has changes required by stakeholders from low to high on the x axis, and benefits received by stakeholders from low to high on the y axis. As with all stakeholder analysis, initial assumptions about stakeholders need to be validated, and the analysis needs to be taken from analysis to action. One of the strengths of this book is that the benefits plan is given a central place in terms of planning and control of the investment. The outputs of stakeholder analysis should become embedded in the benefits plan, ensuring that the realization of benefits is not divorced from the individuals and groups affected by the change. Different change management and communication approaches are explored, together with the need to match behavioural approaches to stakeholder needs and behaviour. Ury et al. (1993) proposed that there are broadly three types of management approach that can be used to bring about change management successfully: top-down, coalition, and negotiation. These three management approaches can be matched to three modes of stakeholder behaviour (rational, trusting or self-interest) to create a useful grid of the interplay between the two. Explanations of what needs to be done to engage stakeholders and manage the change in each of the nine positions on the 3x3 grid are then provided. Knowledge Interchange Book Summaries Page 11

12 Chapter 7: Implementing a Benefits Management Approach Four different rationales for implementation of a benefits management approach to an investment are outlined: A crisis: major investment is out of control An intervention: business managers are reluctant to engage A new initiative: there is support for why IS/IT change are needed Improved governance: recognition that improved control and decision-making is needed Organizations find it easier to implement a benefits management approach with the last two points, than they do with the first two. Nevertheless all four situations are triggers for things to be done differently, leaving the door open for an approach that is stakeholder and business benefit centric. What activities need to happen initially in a benefit driven project, and what are the critical roles in such a project? From the point where a potential IS/IT investment has been suggested, the suggested process flow through the start of the project is: 1. Identify the Sponsor and key stakeholders 2. Hold a 1 st workshop to create objectives, the benefits dependency network and key stakeholders 3. Analyse benefits and change by talking to stakeholders and setting up benefits measurement and quantification 4. Hold a 2 nd workshop to review plans and check feasibility and sensitivity of the plans to the risks 5. Prepare business case and benefits realization plan 6. Gain investment approval 7. Set up formal project management arrangements, roles, responsibilities, communication etc. Knowledge Interchange Book Summaries Page 12

13 Key points are: The importance of strong project sponsorship The need for business representation in the core project management team The need for the benefits plan to be a central part of project plans An analysis of how the benefits management approach in this book would fit with the PRINCE2 project methodology from the Office of Government Commerce is provided. Finally, the more complex a programme of change, the more important it will be to plan and re-plan from a benefits perspective as the project proceeds. The outputs from the benefits management process are relatively easy to maintain and update and the process must be kept aligned and alive with mainstream project plans and controls throughout implementation. Chapter 8: The Importance of Context and; Chapter 9: From Projects to Programmes to Portfolios There is an extensive analysis of the different sorts of organization, or different sort of IS/IT driven investment that provides a different context that must be managed sensitively. The standard benefits management approach described in the earlier part of the book applies to them all, but insights are given into the particular issues that may be faced when dealing with one or more of the following: Public sector organizations Imposed drivers Many stakeholders Small businesses Multi-unit businesses with replicated deployments Knowledge Interchange Book Summaries Page 13

14 Conflict caused by variations across the application portfolio, e.g. simultaneously attempting to implement leading-edge innovation, and improve efficiency of existing processes E-commerce and E-business Information management, e.g. for clinical trials Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems Enterprise Portals Infrastructure Investments External supply: outsourcing and off-shoring There is a warning to those who believe that there must be a set of generic benefits for a given applications scenario; there is not. Each situation represents a different mix of strategic and stakeholder complexities and must be managed that way, albeit with a standard process and set of tools. The differences between projects, programmes and portfolios are discussed, primarily with reference to the Office of Government Commerce publications supported by other mainstream views on the subject. Examples are provided that show how the benefits management approach can be implemented as part of a programme framework, designed around an iterative life cycle where emergent changes need to be dealt with alongside planned or deliberate undertakings. The investment portfolio level has been discussed throughout the book in terms of the expected contribution of different investments. Here multiple investments are considered in terms of strategic drivers, priority setting/decision-making and ongoing control. This brings the process that determined the chapter headings of the book back to the strategic/organizational domain. Knowledge Interchange Book Summaries Page 14

15 Chapter 10: Creating a Better Future The benefits management approach was developed to enable organizations to improve the value realized from specific investments. Overall, the approach enables organizations to stop focusing on the cost of ownership of IT and start to understand the value of ownership.considering the benefits to be gained from investments rather than searching for sufficient benefits to justify the costs involved Not only does the approach work, but it is also more enjoyable. Knowledge Interchange Book Summaries Page 15

16 Authors JOHN WARD is Professor of Strategic Information Systems and Director of the Information Systems Research Centre at Cranfield School of Management. Prior to joining Cranfield, he worked in industry for 15 years and he currently acts as a consultant to a number of major organizations. ELIZABETH DANIEL is Professor of Information Management at the Open University Business School. Prior to joining OUBS in 2005, Elizabeth worked in the IS Research Centre at Cranfield School of Management where she researched and taught in the fields of e-business and IS strategies and benefits management. Knowledge Interchange Book Summaries Page 16

17 Cranfield School of Management Produced by the Learning Services Team Cranfield School of Management Cranfield University 2008

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