Microsoft framework designed to justify tech investments

With businesses demanding that good ideas be backed up with hard numbers, IT executives are looking for methods to help them quantify and measure the value of their IT investments.

Microsoft Corp. says it has stepped up to this challenge with the development of its rapid economic justification (REJ) framework.

Launched in mid-2000, the company is embarking on a campaign to help customers better understand the concept. According to Shafeen Charania, director of business value at Microsoft in Redmond, Wash., the REJ framework is a way for customers to justify technology purchases in a language that mangers understand.

“In every organization, there’s a business side and an IT side – the geeks and the wallets. The geeks speak geek and the wallets speak wallet, and now that the wallets are paying more attention to the IT side of things, the geeks have to make sure that the advantage is articulated in wallet-speak,” he said.

The REJ framework consists of five steps. The first is understanding the business and identifying with the customer what success looks like for them. Step two involves identifying ways of applying technology solutions that align with the organization’s critical success factors.

“The third step is when you decide what it’s worth to you to get these capabilities, and it has to be a number that you will stand behind,” Charania said.

Step four identifies the risks in moving forward.

“Any time there’s change, there’s risk,” Charania said. “There are risks involving the technology and the time frame, there are social risks and political risks. This is the step where we address them.”

Finally, the REJ projects the impact of the proposed IT investment in financial terms.

Mike Silver, a New York-based analyst for Gartner Inc., said that the idea behind the framework is nothing new. “We’ve been saying for quite a while that businesses need to make compelling business cases for their basic infrastructure,” he said.

According to Silver, Microsoft is pushing this framework in order to expedite sales by having organizations start earlier and move quicker in their technology buying decisions.

However, Erik Moll, marketing manager for Windows NT Server at Microsoft Canada Co. in Mississauga, Ont., stressed that a third-party team always audits the process.

“I think that Microsoft is finding it difficult to get people to upgrade as fast as they would like, and by using the REJ and proving a business value, they’re more likely to move people along. Some of these things are hard to quantify, but if Microsoft can help organizations find a business value and ROI, spending is more likely to get a green light and less likely to be cut in a bad economy,” Silver said.

Microsoft Canada Co. currently has 10 dedicated consultants working with the REJ framework, and of the REJs completed over the last year, including one at Ontario Power Generation, all were satisfied enough to continue with their implementation, Moll said.

For more information on Microsoft’s REJ framework, go to