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Written by: Copperleaf

Innovation @ Copperleaf: Stan Coleman on Using the Copperleaf Value Framework to Value IT Investments

In this interview with Stan Coleman, Copperleaf’s Chief Architect, he discusses how the Copperleaf® Value Framework can be used to evaluate different types of investments—beyond physical infrastructure. If we look to the ISO 55001 standard, an asset is defined very broadly as an “item, thing or entity that has potential or actual value to an organization.” The same asset management principles can therefore be applied to hardware and software assets. This article focuses on how the Copperleaf Value Framework can be used to value portfolios of Information Technology (IT) investments.

Q: How has the Copperleaf Value Framework evolved over time?

“As the market has matured in Asset Investment Planning and Management (AIPM), the demands from clients in terms of what they want to be able to value have also matured.

We have seen a transition from condition-based to risk-based, and now value-based decisions. The approach used by organizations does vary by industry and geography, but globally we are seeing a shift toward a more holistic approach to decision making, where all types of value are being included to inform investment planning. Many of our clients now look at a much wider spectrum of value—from hard financial benefits to societal and environmental benefits.

This evolution has driven the need for more sophisticated calculations and a more flexible framework, as well as various tools and visualizations to communicate these decisions with stakeholders.”

Q: How did we first begin using the Copperleaf Decision Analytics Solution to value IT portfolios?

“IT departments actually have very similar challenges to their asset management counterparts. They need to manage a pipeline of candidate projects and allocate their limited funds and resources to get the best results. We had experience taking a value framework from one business unit within an integrated utility and expanding it to the enterprise level, so we were able to extend this approach to the IT environment. We now have a strong community of clients like Manitoba Hydro and Salt River Project (SRP) that have a corporate value framework that spans the entire organization, including all of their physical asset lines of business and now also their IT spend.”

If your organization’s IT system isn’t available, how will that impact the ability of employees to do their jobs? What efficiencies can you obtain by upgrading your technology? . . . These are all important questions our clients want to examine.

Q: What are the factors typically used to evaluate IT projects?

“Within the Copperleaf Value Framework, we call these factors “value measures”. For IT projects, there are some common value measures that we typically use to assess the benefits of IT investments, such as cost, financial benefits, IT capacity risk, security risk, license risk, innovation premium, business continuity risk, etc.

For example, if your organization’s IT system isn’t available, how will that impact the ability of employees to do their jobs? What efficiencies (time and money savings) can you obtain by upgrading your technology? How can you optimize customer experience and maximize value across different business functions by collecting and using your data in a more holistic way? These are all important questions we help our clients examine.”

Q: Do organizations typically evaluate both software and hardware investments together in one capital portfolio, or is their spend evaluated independently? Is this trending in one direction or another?

“A little of both. The trend is for organizations to want to have a comprehensive view of what they’re doing in IT which allows for more consistency and efficiency in decision making. Hardware investments tend to be transactional and sustainment-based, such as desktop refresh programs and programmatic types of investments. Software spend incorporates big system implementations like outage management upgrades and large digital transformation initiatives. Usually, the capital is from the same budget, so organizations want to perform trade-offs between those sustainment-type initiatives versus larger transformations. With Copperleaf’s solutions, clients can carry out this type of analysis.”

Q: What other industries can benefit from a value framework? Any ideas about what’s next on the horizon?

“The Copperleaf Value Framework applies to any company that needs to make informed, data-driven decisions about how they spend their money and resources. Because there are so many similarities and common issues around financial performance, safety, ESG-driven initiatives, and reliability across industries worldwide, the Framework can be applied almost infinitely.

Learn about how the Copperleaf Value Model Library helps organizations make better decisions.