The Value of the Overall Investment

Many analyses and academic studies have been directed to answering this broad question: How can an organization assess the value of its overall invest­ments in IT? Assessing the value of the aggregate IT investment is different from assessing the value of a single initiative or other specific investment. And it is also different from assessing the caliber of the IT department.

Developing a definitive, accurate, and well-accepted way to answer this question has so far eluded all industries and may continue to be elusive. Nonetheless there are some basic questions that can be asked in pursuit of answering the larger question. Interpreting the answers to these basic ques­tions is a subjective exercise, making it difficult to derive numerical scores. Bresnahan (1998) suggests five questions:

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1. How does IT influence the customer experience?

2. Do patients and physicians, for example, find that organizational processes are more efficient, less error prone, and more convenient?

3. Does IT enable or retard growth? Can the IT organization support effectively the demands of a merger? Can IT support the creation of clinical product lines—for example, cardiology—across the integrated delivery system?

4. Does IT favorably affect productivity?

5. Does IT advance organizational innovation and learning?

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