Most businesses, be they large or small, are challenged to appropriately prioritize information technology initiatives. There are numerous methods for prioritization from the CEO (Business Owner) simply saying what will be worked on next to the Information Technology Department making unilateral decisions about what it believes is in the best interest of the business.
In my experience, neither of these is the best approach. Both of these approaches neglect some of the true questions a business must answer to achieve the most effective use of both financial and human resources.
The approach that I have seen work most effectively is establishing a steering committee. This committee is tasked with reviewing all new project requests. The committee should be comprised of representatives of the major business units including members from Compliance (Legal) and Information Technology.
The steering committee should establish standard criteria by which each project is evaluated. Of course, each business is different and will establish its own list of criteria.
Some examples of criteria might include:
- Regulatory compliance
- Cost savings (the reduction of costs internally)
- Expected increase in revenue
- Executive discretion (the CEO wants this project completed)
- Architectural necessity (if we don’t complete this project, other projects in the future won’t be possible.)
This list of criteria is by no means exhaustive, but rather some examples of what a business might consider in attempting to compare proposed projects in an “apples to apples” type approach.
The steering committee should also take the time to review the ongoing projects as well. In some cases it may make sense to cancel or postpone an existing project in favor of a new, more important project.
The bottom line is that to ensure the best tactical and strategic value for the human and financial resources being expended, it is critical that the business and information technology leaders within a company work closely to ensure the proper alignment of projects within the overall portfolio.
Dan Thompson, PEI