Book review: A New Framework for IT Investment Decisions

A New Framework for IT Investment Decisions
By Antony Barnes (Harriman House), £45

One of the greatest challenges CIOs face is when senior members of the organisation view the IT department, and therefore technology, as a service provider. No amount of clever devices and slick video presentations will budge this mentality. So you have to meet the challenge head-on and present the story for how the firm can extract more business value from the technology investments it makes.

Antony Barnes’ book A New Framework for IT Investment Decisions, published by Harriman House, takes readers through a journey to making better IT decisions. Barnes has been a consultant for 15 years and as the book demonstrates he’s seen the inside of a variety of organisations. His particular passion is organisational system design in particular as the result of M&A.

What I liked most about this book was the contentious kick-off, with the first part of the five-part book focusing on “the problem with ROI”. Barnes looks at how ROI is logical, but that it is also a broken system, especially in relation to IT.

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Throughout the book Barnes takes an organic, continually modifying approach to how IT should be measured. Early on he rightly states: “The problem comes when you can measure one side of the balance (the costs) but not the other (the benefits) ... Contrary to popular belief, all the benefits of an information system cannot usually be predicted ahead of time, nor can the financial value of those benefits be calculated.”

He goes on to argue that rigid measurement of ROI can lead to the IT budget being focused on the wrong things.
Having challenged the orthodoxy of your CFO and CEO, Barnes suggests a new framework that focuses on the value of information systems and reshaping the business and investment.

Barnes widely uses diagrams and case studies of major organisations to build his argument. It is well thought out and a CIO will extract greater depth from it than an outside observer like this scribe, as they add their own referential experiences on top.

I found the depth exhausting at times, but like exercise, you do feel better for it and it does stretch the muscle between your ears.