Getting the Most for your Money - Page 2

Oct 18, 2006

Allen Bernard

Menard's efforts are based on the total quality management (TQM) movement that many U.S. companies dismissed and Japan embraced just after World War II (and later used so effectively to dominate the foreign car market in the U.S.). Intel embraced TQM in the '80s to deal with quality issues.

Using TQM in this manner means three things: discipline, data and analysis.

"Good discipline says you collect data, you analyze it, and then you make decisions," said Menard. "Business value it just that—it's project management 101. It gives you a chance to make a better decision verses a gut-reaction. And then you can measure it after the fact to see whether or not you did get the kind of results you expected."

To handle all of this tracking and analysis may seem like a daunting task requiring a huge department but Menard does all of this with just 10 or so full-time staff and the part-time efforts of some 100 project managers. This is a lot compared to just last year when there was only one, full-time person devoted to the value program.

"So it's not that big an investment. I think sometimes people get scared off and think, 'Oh, business value is so hard, we don't have time to do it'; it isn't that heavy lifting."

To get over your reticence, start slow. You can't measure everything, advises Menard, so focus on those factors that will be the easiest to tease out. You will also have to include your finance department to keep track of hard costs and the business units to make sure value is indeed being delivered.

And, until both of these groups sign off on the data, and finance does the math, only then can IT claim the numbers for themselves. "We can't take credit for a business value result until the customer and the finance group say, 'We agree'."

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