Chapter 4 – Reducing the risk of failure
Information technology innovations are high risk undertakings in any environment. Sources of risk include underestimation of the complexity of an innovation and the lack of awareness for the interdependencies of information technology innovations and organizational processes and practices. To increase the likelihood for success of the funded projects, the Electronic Commons Program managers sought out resources to assist the project teams in gaining new skills for breaking down these complexities and identifying interdependencies. In particular, they recommended the use of Making Smart IT Choices, a publication of the Center for Technology in Government. Making Smart IT Choices was developed to provide an analytical and evaluation process for information technology-based innovations in government (see Figure 1). It presents a set of tools and techniques for creating new understandings of a problem to be solved and its context, to assist in the identification and testing of possible solutions to the problem, and to provide frameworks for evaluating the results of those tests against service and performance goals. This chapter introduces the tools from Smart IT and presents some guidance for future project teams in selecting technology tools for project team efforts and to support knowledge sharing goals.
Using the teleconferences, CTG provided the Electronic Commons teams with an orientation to Making Smart IT Choices. Although each project was different, the project teams encountered similar challenges in identifying the complexity of the environment, accounting for the distributed nature of the work teams and the target users, and the influences of larger organizational and political forces. The specific tools explored during the conference calls and applied by the teams are listed below. The presentation of critical success factors in Chapter 5 provides additional information about how the tools and techniques of Smart IT were applied within the projects.
Current/Best Practice ResearchAn explanation of current and best practice research, how it is done, and why it’s important to do.
Service ObjectivesA service objective is a structured way to express the goals of your project. The process of creating a commonly understood and agreed upon service objective often reveals differences in thinking, different assumptions, and conflicting perspectives that must all be discussed and resolved before the service objective statement is complete.
Strategic FrameworkA strategic framework is a structured way to understand a project proposal by helping you clearly define each key service objective and its customers. The framework then helps you identify the resources, partners, and innovations that might contribute to success. To be most effective, the strategic framework should work with one project-specific objective at a time. Strategic frameworks can be devised by one person and then presented to and reviewed by others, or they can be created through a facilitated group decision conference.
Stakeholder AnalysisStakeholders are individuals and groups who are affected by or have influence over your initiative. Every project needs a careful assessment of stakeholders in order to understand who cares about it, how they can affect it, and how they will be affected by it.
Modest/Moderate/Elaborate FrameworkAllows you to consider various levels of aspiration, meaning that you may be able to design your application to meet the needs of your users from various approaches: modest, moderate, or elaborate.
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