I-TIPS can help federal managers make better information technology investment decisions.
Batteries not included. This is not a toy. Some assembly required. Follow all instructions care fully. Do not use near an open flame or other harsh elements. I admit the first and last items are not directly applicable to the system (Information Technology Investment Portfolio System or I-TIPS) I will discuss. However, please defer judgment until later. During the past two years, I led or guided deployment of I-TIPS at 10 federal organizations. This year, an additional 10 to 15 organizations will use I-TIPS to make better investments in information technology (IT).
This article provides observations on the implementation, at several federal agencies, of I-TIPS. It presents three lessons learned for consideration of agencies deploying I-TIPS, as well as for the many other federal, state, and local government organizations wrestling with the decision to deploy I-TIPS, or some other IT investment support tool.
As widely reported over the past several years, federal agencies invest about $25 billion a year on IT with little hard data or confidence in the return for these investments. Indeed, over the past several years, the administration, the Congress, and the agencies themselves have taken action to better identify, understand, and make IT investment decisions based on the benefits, costs, and risks associated with each investment opportunity throughout its life cycle.
One significant challenge that agencies face is having a mechanism to help determine, collect, store, maintain, and provide access to the information to support IT investment decision making. I-TIPS is an automated, web-based decision support tool that supports the collection, analysis, and shared access to the information needed to determine whether to invest in an IT project or initiative. I-TIPS is currently in use at several federal organizations, including the Departments of Agriculture, Energy, Labor, Housing and Urban Development, and Treasury, and the General Services Administration. Many other federal organizations have initiated system implementation efforts.
Lesson Number 1: I-TIPS Cannot Do It All
Over the past two years, I have introduced I-TIPS to over 100 federal, state, and local government organizations. Many struggle to make better IT investment decisions and to return real, tangible, and measurable benefits to the organization and to stakeholders. The majority who hear and see I-TIPS in action walk away believing one or two things. First, that it will not meet their needs. Or, second, that it will meet all their needs. Lesson number one is that I-TIPS can do much to improve IT investment decision making, but it cannot "do it all."
What I-TIPS Cannot Do
Considering what I-TIPS cannot do, I am reminded of a conversation with a senior federal agency official during early efforts to deploy the system. We had completed software delivery and installation on the …