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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.

Smart IT

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.