The Importance of Tracking Decisions

The IT department has become the memory for the organization. This happens because often IT decisions are made during project delivery yet have long lasting implications. Applications are designed, built and implemented as part of the project process. Once those applications go into production, they become a permanent part of the IT landscape until another project spins up to retire or modify them.

The permanence of IT decisions, even after the project is complete

As a result, an application can have a very long life, particularly when compared to a project.  Project teams are more fluid in terms of business participants.  Often the decision made during a project are based on a deep understanding of the project and requirements in the moment.  This deep insight is lost as team members move to other projects and the application moves to production.

IT becomes the de facto memory for the organization

The result of this is that IT becomes the de facto memory for the organization.  That memory is the collective, codified business decisions inherent in the applications in production.  The business often loses touch with the specifics of their applications over time and become more and more dependent on IT to understand how an application functions.

How does this impact the ITFM function?

How does this impact the IT financial management function?  One key attribute of mature IT financial management practices is regular, systematic capture of key decisions every time a set of financials are published.  This decision capture details operational and investment decisions made based on the financial status and need of the organization at the time.  By capturing a clear definition of the decision and the business rational for the decision, we enable IT finance to estimate the financial impacts of that decision and to track the actual financial impact.

Keep it simple

Decision tracking can be as simple as a log created in Excel or Access to track the decision and the related data points.  It serves as a reminder for forecasting updates and for planning the next budget cycle.  It is most valuable in speeding up the “Story Telling” analysis by linking business and operational decisions to financial outcomes.

Decision tracking is critical element of a successful IT financial management practice and is something any ITFM organization can implement immediately, regardless of the maturity of the other parts of the practice.

 

Read other blog posts from this series written by ITFM expert William Miller: