ITGI Unveils Framework for Demonstrating IT Value

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The IT Governance Institute (ITGI), which is known for its CobiT governance framework, has announced a new standard for showing the value of an organization’s IT department. The target of this initiative, called Val IT, are CEOs, chief financial officers (CFOs) and other traditionally influential executives, said Erik Guldentops, CISA, CISM and the originator of CobiT concept.


“It fits the strategy of the IT Governance Institute,” said Guldentops, who serves on the ITGI Board of Trustees and also teaches at the management school at the University of Antwerp. “We had been saying that we need to reach out beyond our traditional domain, which years ago was the technical auditors and IT specialist. We’d even moved into the CIO domain, but we needed to move beyond that. We need to reach the CEOs and CFOs. That’s a major element of this whole initiative.”


The Val IT project, which broke ground about a year and a half ago, was born out of a collaboration between ITGI and ING, one the world’s top 10 banks and an organization often held up as a example in the business world because of its management of investments. In fact, it includes a business-based rationale and a case study supplied by ING.


“It’s a framework with additional supporting materials such as case studies, how-to guides and those kinds of things,” said Guldentops, who added that this business focus is key to getting executive interest and buy-in for IT projects. “It’s about IT-enabled business initiatives. If you build a technical capability, you have to turn it into a business capability. Then you have to take the next step, which is converting that business capability into business benefits.”


Due to the fact that it’s designed to influence executives, there is a heavy emphasis on recording and supplying empirical data in Val IT. “From the outset, we said that we’re not going to make this into the experts saying what the right thing is just because we, the experts, tell you so,” Guldentops said. “We’re going to prove this because we’re talking to CEOs and CFOs. We’re going to build this up based on empirical analysis and look for proof that certain practices have an impact—be it positive or negative—on the bottom line of an enterprise. That’s the kind of language (CEOs and CFOs) understand.”


Although they might be somewhat skeptical of an initiative such as Val IT, technology professionals can benefit significantly from this body of knowledge. Guldentops pointed out that many IT pros didn’t understand the advantages of using CobiT at first, either. “People asked, ‘What’s in it for us?’ Well, people realized fairly quickly that what was in it for them was a foot in the door with management. They could relate their more technically oriented expertise and responsibilities to the more managerially oriented focus points.”


Similarly, technology pros can get more access to the senior leaders of their organization if they learn to make a better business case, and executives will profit—figuratively and literally—by better understanding how technology impacts the bottom line. “It needs work on both sides,” Guldentops said. “Our IT people need to become business people on the one hand, and our business people need to be more involved in projects that have a large IT flavor.”


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