Qualifying the value of IT investments for public sector organizations looks to get easier with a recently unveiled methodology.

The new methodology — dubbed Public ROI — is a return on investment (ROI) initiative initiated by SAP Canada Inc. and the Center for Technology in Government (CTG) at the University at Albany.

“This kind of work is right in the middle of our mission — to have governments improve through better use of information and information technology,” said Anthony Cresswell, deputy director at CTG.

Cresswell said CTG had a publication around ROI analysis about two years ago which he describes as an introduction to ROI issues for IT managers and planners in government.

“SAP saw that and were interested in talking with us about how to extend it, which lead to their wanting to support this work as a kind of a public service,” he said.

There are a lot of reasons for SAP wanting to be involved with the Public ROI initiative, according to Michael Tremblay, vice-president, Public Services at SAP Canada.

“We have a global public sector advisory council which actually includes three of the customers that were studied as part of this program,” said Tremblay. “This particular initiative seemed to have quite a bit of momentum with our council so we decided to reach out to CTG and it developed into a formal program.”

As for the methodology itself, Cresswell said they struggled with the language of what to call it.

“We didn’t know whether to call it a measurement or a methodology,” said Cresswell. “We finally landed on the term framework, because it’s not just a measurement tool, it’s a way of framing an assessment in a way that leads you to choose a different measurement tool depending on aspects of public value you’re trying to get after.”

As for how public sector organizations will use this framework, Cresswell said that he hopes that they’ve provided a much broader way of conceptualizing public value.

“We have provided a set of steps and tools to move from conceptualizing public value to having an actual assessment of it that gives them useful information for planning for development,” he said.

Service New Brunswick was the lone Canadian case study,” said Tremblay. “When I look at Service New Brunswick they really had the strategy to have the citizen right in the centre.”

What New Brunswick has created is a very interesting new channel that is web-based and allows them to provide to the citizens a very effective way of getting their work with government done, he said.

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