Review: Alineans ValueIT 3.21

 
 
By Peter Coffee  |  Posted 2003-12-01 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Alinean's ValueIT tools are effective for comparing spending, productivity.

The task of it project planning and portfolio management depends on financially sophisticated assumptions and calculations, and benefits from experience in thinking about how to structure and present comparisons and conclusions. That sophistication and experience are clearly reflected in the design and function of the ValueIT Version 3.21 suite from Alinean LLC.


Merely by looking over the list of possible templates that ValueIT offers for analysis, an IT manager may get a new appreciation of the diversity of IT efforts and the broad spectrum of resources that they require. Working with the products ProjectROI module, eWEEK Labs appreciated the overall perspective that was always available from the products navigation tools. This made it easy for us to examine our assumptions and enter or adjust our estimates. We found the same consistent ease of use in the products other modules for management and analysis of our efforts, both planned and in progress.
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
ValueIT 3.21
For IT managers who are newly challenged to put their proposals into financial perspective, ValueIT from Alinean combines structured financial analysis and presentation tools with integral online research aids for identifying and comparing IT spending and productivity levels against those of relevant competitors. ValueIT is priced starting at $10,000.

KEY PERFORMANCE INDICATORS
USABILITY FAIR
CAPABILITY GOOD
PERFORMANCE FAIR
INTEROPERABILITY FAIR
MANAGEABILITY GOOD
SCALABILITY GOOD
SECURITY GOOD
  • PRO: Easily navigated interface unifies assumptions, analyses and comparisons; research tools provide useful reality check on organizational IT performance.

  • CON: Poor error handling in this Visual Basic application resulted in aborted sessions during tests.
  • EVALUATION SHORT LIST
    Artemis International Solutions Corp.s Artemis 7 Changepoint Corp.s Changepoint 8 CPacific Edge Software Inc.s Portfolio Edge ProSight Inc.s Portfolios

    In eWEEK Labs conversations with any number of software vendors, we hear a recurring refrain—that their main competition comes not from other tools of similar function but from the general-purpose spreadsheets that users attempt to apply to almost every quantitative task. ValueIT is in principle the kind of thing that users might attempt to whip up with the tools that they have on hand, not realizing the far greater power that can be brought to bear by an application thats designed for a particular purpose.

    The Alinean package, which is priced starting at $10,000 and runs on Windows 2000/XP, offers users a comprehensive set of data structures, predefined algorithms and even integrated online research tools that immediately elevate the users work to a significantly higher level of professionalism. But alert readers will have caught the "in principle" qualifier in the preceding paragraph—our experience with Version 3.21 of ValueIT, released near the end of October, failed to find the maturity that we expect from a product thats reached the 3.0-plus level.

    Our work with ValueIT betrayed its underpinnings as a Visual Basic application that fails to make rigorous provision for handling error situations. On at least two occasions during testing, our input triggered run-time errors that resulted in aborting our session and losing any unsaved state. It simply should not be possible to give an application like this a combination of input that confuses it to death.

    That said, we were more pleasantly intrigued by the original ideas in ValueIT, specifically by the innovative PeerComparison module that provides users with an extensive list of standard industry codes. PeerComparison then invites users to choose the industry sectors against which theyd like to measure their own IT spending efficiency and other figures of merit.

    In particular, ValueIT proposes and presents a measure called Information Productivity that compares a companys overall performance against its sales and general and administrative expenses. The higher the ratio, goes the thinking, the better the company is doing at transforming what it knows into what it produces.

    With a little more attention to the robustness of the software, this could easily become an exemplary package—the kind of product that challenges IT managers to broaden the scope of their expertise and increase their own value to their companies.
     
     
     
     
    Peter Coffee is Director of Platform Research at salesforce.com, where he serves as a liaison with the developer community to define the opportunity and clarify developers' technical requirements on the company's evolving Apex Platform. Peter previously spent 18 years with eWEEK (formerly PC Week), the national news magazine of enterprise technology practice, where he reviewed software development tools and methods and wrote regular columns on emerging technologies and professional community issues.Before he began writing full-time in 1989, Peter spent eleven years in technical and management positions at Exxon and The Aerospace Corporation, including management of the latter company's first desktop computing planning team and applied research in applications of artificial intelligence techniques. He holds an engineering degree from MIT and an MBA from Pepperdine University, he has held teaching appointments in computer science, business analytics and information systems management at Pepperdine, UCLA, and Chapman College.
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

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