ITIL business case: find the money

There is much discussion of which processes to start with in ITIL, or what order to do them in, or whether to do them at all, or how to decide. If the decision on which processes to reengineer is driven by a business case then the right ones will be chosen: those where ITIL will yield a return to the business.
FTM: Find The Money.

In IT, decisions are often not driven by business case, so that investment is sunk into projects which return unknown benefit because some manager thinks (or has been convinced) it is a good idea. For too long we have made many decisions in IT based on whether something will be "better" (faster, more flexible, more space, cooler) without addressing the basic issue: does it give the business what the business wants right now? Can a compelling case be made to convince the business? If you are part of a business then you should run like a business and that means having a business case.

Of course the consequences of inappropriate spending are less severe in the public service – the government stays in business. One hopes they would still build a case for every project, based instead on how it delivers budget and/or policy compliance, but still focused on whether the outcome justifies the investment and contributes to overall strategy and plans.

A business case should be a reasoned and structured document, with supporting evidence and references, that justifies a project on either financial or strategic grounds in terms of the overall strategy and plans of the business, and which has been reviewed and approved by sufficiently senior management.

In the commercial world, a business case justifies its project in money terms. Deliver the money and the project is unlikely to be declined. It is amazing how many arguments lose sight of this simple principle.

In the public sector things are much more complex. All the political factors come into play more strongly (we will discuss these in future posts).

This is an extract from an ITSMWatch article by the IT Skeptic ITIL Business Case 101.


Take the money and run!!!

Or Don't look a gift horse in the mouth..

I am a big business value and alignment person, but I would make 1 comment.

If a VP or the like is looking to hand over some funds without a comment about justification, then take that money and go for it. Provided companies are not using this process for over 80% of there budget, then its a good strategy. Innovation does not come from ROI alone, ROI assessments only deliver optimization. Its always tough to calculate ROI on something you have no experience and not history to base from (ie. innovation).. If a person is willing to give you some cash, then don't make them go back through a level 0 ROI analysis to prove to them you are worthy of the gift. Just GO GO GO!!!

The true statement from Skep is you must always execute the project with a focus on business return on investment (either soft or hard return). It must be identifiable and it must be understood and accepted by the people who write the checks.

Another soapbox I will hop on it, make sure with this windfall of cash, you focus on the quick win. ITIL adoption and be a long and drawn out process, most cash cows have a short attention span and you need to deliver the result quickly.. Find a couple of things the sponsor can promote within a 3-6 month timeframe.


Brad Vaughan

Think before you run

I always used to be of the quick win school, but I'm less sure now. I guess my concern is that you deliver the quick win, everybody sighs a breath of relief and thinks "That's it we can all go home now" not realizing that dealing with the quick wins often fails to target the underlying causes of poor an inefficient service which then come back to haunt you. On top of which the benefit delivered by the quick wins soon gets forgotten about.

A typical example is focusing on the service desk in the early days. You end up with a polite and knowledgable service desk, but because the basics are now in place, and you are finally producing decent trustworthy statistics your users now realise how poor the underlying availability of service is. Meanwhile the kudos you got from improving the service desk slips away quickly because very quickly the new level of service becomes the accepted norm - after all you are only providing the service people should have been getting to begin with. So after twelve months you've spent the cash you've been given, but the short term corporate memory has forgotten the benefit you delivered - just at the point you realise that to grips with the real problems is going to require more work than you originally realised.

FTV -- Find the Value!

I only agree with part of what you said. The conversation that needs to be had is around value, not money. Indeed, I think that you point this in your comments:

"For too long we have made many decisions in IT based on whether something will be "better" (faster, more flexible, more space, cooler) without addressing the basic issue: does it give the business what the business wants right now? Can a compelling case be made to convince the business? If you are part of a business then you should run like a business and that means having a business case."

The compelling case is one that is firmly based in value. There may be a monetary consideration, but it's likley not to the exclusion of all else. In fact, if the value is there, an organization (public or private) may be willing to accept a monetary hit (short-term) to realize the value that it represents in the medium- to long-term (new product, competitive advantage, etc.) While public sector agencies don't have to bother themselves about profit, they certainly can (and should) do so about the value that they provide to the public they serve.

I don't think that the money and value are mutually exclusive, but money is only one dimension of value. If you keep your eye on value, you can build the bridge to how money ties into it. Getting interested in finding out what your customers need you to provide is a great first step to moving to a relationship based upon value, not cost.


yeah yeah yeah

yeah yeah yeah

All this talk about value. If you want to get management's attention for a half-million dollar project that is what they thought you were doing anyway, all this Gartner waffle about VOI won't cut it. Show me the money.

Skep after a few Sauvignon Blancs

Uh, sure...

I never mentioned either Gartner or VOI. No need to project here. In this case, think you might have crossed the line between skepticism and cynicism. Perhaps your mistook your vino for the bottle of Coruba sitting next to it? Could happen...


a cynical post

That's not a cynical post. THIS is a cynical post.

The hangover may indicate that it was in fact Baccardi.

Now I'm off to the itSMFnz conference gala dinner to do it all again :-D

Show me the money

Ah, a quote from one of my favourite films - the moral of which IIRC is that values and money can be succesfully aligned ;-)

For me the issue with most business cases I see is that they focus on the mythical man month within the IT department. They don't focus on how savings/added value get transmiteed to the bottom line.

It's a book too!

And I think the best on the subject of linking value and money in the form of projects and results that a sponsor can get lit up about. It's a must read, in my view.

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