Shock Horror - projects should provide a business benefit!

Like many people I am on a number of mailing lists for articles on IT and IS. A headline from one such mailing caught my eye -

“"How can I better connect enterprise architecture with business capabilities?"

The associated article introduced the need for enterprise architects to be focused on the business. It suggested that we should look at projects and recognise that delivering on time and on budget are not the only parameters of success; that we should be concerned about the project’s impact on the business, and the benefits it delivers. It even suggested that there should be defined measures for assessing the benefits that justified the project to begin with and that, since these are unlikely to be achieved on day one of live running that it might be an idea to review the situation a year, say after implementation.

I do not intend to knock anything this article proposes. It is self-evidently correct that projects should achieve a business benefit and that there needs to be a conscious assessment of whether they have succeeded.

Where I have a problem is why anyone in the 21st century would believe that this needs to be said; surely analysts, business staff, architects, all know that this is the case. If they do not then the training we have been providing has gone in one ear and out of the other.

The idea that IT/IS projects should provide benefits to the business is ingrained in all the courses we teach. It is fundamental to the role of business analysis and pervades the courses and BCS certificates we offer. We stress the need for business analysts to understand the business and its strategy, to confirm that project objectives are aligned with business objectives, and to include in the project a formal assessment of its success in producing these benefits.

Is this new? Of course not. This was instilled into me forty years ago as an aspiring systems analyst (we did not have BAs in those days) and basic truths do not change. Perhaps I am just being a grumpy old analyst, or perhaps we need to have the obvious re-stated every once in a while. So, thanks to the authors of the article for reminding us.