Susan Cramm’s interesting post for Harvard Business Publishing, “IT’s Dirty Little Secret: No Accountability” contains some worthwhile observations and valid recommendations, but her post’s title is misleading. I believe it is not “IT’s dirty little secret” but the “Business’s dirty little secret.”
As has been observed before, businesses get the IT they deserve, and it is primarily a lack of business accountability for the business value of IT investments that places IT in the somewhat sorry state it finds itself with regard to value realization and the measurement thereof. Now one can argue that IT is accountable for colluding with dysfunctional behavior – i.e., spending money on IT investments on behalf of the business without insisting on business accountability for the results. This is not only sloppy management practice, it is also a source of “value leakage” (failure to figure out how realized value will be tracked often leads to poorly planned or designed systems due to lack of real understanding and agreement on how the business outcomes will be achieved or enabled by technology and/or process change).
One leading practice we’ve seen that can help address this accountability gap is a partnership between the CIO and CFO focused on driving business value realization from IT investments. For all the grumbling that it is hard to achieve, there is lots known about how to achieve and some great success stories for those that try. If you are interested in this topic, please check out my recent posts: Financial Forensics as a Clue to Dysfunctional IT, and Measuring the Business Value of IT – Where You Can Win By Simply Trying!