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IT management aided by new appraisal technique

IT-CMF framework seen as another tool for showing the business value of IT

February 4, 2010 04:40 PM ET

Computerworld - CIOs and other IT leaders have long struggled to measure and then demonstrate the business value of IT investments, and that challenge has generally become more difficult during the recession of the last two years.

A relatively new approach for making IT investment and operating decisions and then proving their value to shareholders, called the IT Capability Maturity Framework (IT-CMF), can offer IT leaders some help, several IT executives at multinational businesses said at a conference in Boston on Wednesday.

The IT-CMF approach fills in the gaps of some better-known IT management framework schemes such as Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) and Sixth Sigma, several officials said.

IT-CMF measures 36 different IT processes within an organization on five levels of maturity, rated from one through five, five being the best. The processes are broadly divided into four areas of management: Managing IT like a business by focusing on customers and services; managing the IT budget to deliver better value and performance; managing the IT capability and developing core competencies; and managing IT for business value by linking IT investments to overall business benefits.

One speaker, Vincenzo Marchese, group enterprise architect for British Petroleum, said that he has used portions of the IT-CMF assessment for two years within an IT group that has 3,000 workers, including 250 architects, who oversee 700 active projects.

IT-CMF is "a key measure to track how we do over time, but it is one measure," Marchese said. On the IT-CMF scale, he said one facet of IT management called "enterprise architecture management" was assessed in 2008 at a level two, and rose to a level three in 2009 after some changes were made.

In another example, with morale within IT ranks fairly low after a restructuring, the IT-CMF assessment helped identify changes, such as new IT training programs and well-defined career progression paths, that helped bring that area up to level four, Marchese noted.

The IT-CMF has been under development by the Innovation Value Institute, the event's sponsor, and is based on concepts in a 2004 book by Martin Curley, Managing IT for Business Value.

IVI was co-founded in 2006 by Intel Corp., the Boston Consulting Group and the National University of Ireland, Maynooth. National University uses some IT-CMF concepts in IT management courses, and its officials said about 15 other universities in the U.S., Europe and Australia are adding following suit.

Andrew Agerbak, a principal at Boston Consulting Group, said he had reviewed 120 high-level IT-CMF assessments performed on various IT groups, of which more than 20 were detailed assessments, and found the IT maturity level "relatively low" even though some companies that were studied had invested billions of dollars in IT.



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