The justification for an Information Technology project often builds on myths that surround IT. Consider the following business case for an Information Technology project:

Orders for our products are currently accepted only over the phone.  It takes approximately 10 minutes of staff time to accept each order, at a net cost of $5 per order.  Developing a web based order system will allow our organization to avoid this cost.

This simple business case demonstrates four critical myths of information technology.

Myth: Information Technology Brings Efficiency

Alternative: Too often organization efficiency is measured only in terms of how information technology can replace labor intensive work. Efficiency should be thought of as the best use of all organization resources. Even if information technology makes people more efficient, it also costs a lot of money, and that cost needs to be part of the efficiency equation and part of a sincere business case.

Myth: Information Technology Brings Benefits

Alternative: The most well-kept secret is that information technology provides almost no direct benefit, benefits don’t come in a box, and it’s an extraordinarily rare project that creates an IT product or service that can bring benefits.  It’s much closer to the truth to say that technology can enable, or facilitate, change, and when we change: when we do new things, do things differently, or stop doing inefficient things; that is what fulfills the promise of technology.

Myth: If we build it, they will come

Alternative: Implementing technology is not really about technology, it’s about change, and it takes much more of a concerted effort to affect change.  Think about the additional required steps to get the anticipated stakeholders to change. In this case the customers need to know about the web site and they need to use it.  What outreach, promotions, search engine optimization, etc. is necessary to achieve those goals?

Myth: Information Technology Results in Cost Savings

Alternative: Only actual cost savings result in cost savings.  The cost savings anticipated through the reduction of staff (even through attrition) faces stiff opposition from those staff, their management, and organizational culture.  Cost savings like this is also rarely linear because it’s often not possible to realize personnel cost savings in a linear way.  Be realistic about cost savings.  Benefits from the project may more accurately be expressed as increased capacity as staff responsibilities change.


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