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.
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.
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
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.