Value Management in the Public Service: More than ROI, Manage for Return to Mission – Lott

1:30 pm -2:15 pm

Friday, April 21, 2023

Benjamin Banneker


We don’t get full value out of many projects in the public service, of which IT is a large category. While the road to “sub-value IT” may be wide (lack of persistent business integration, failure to reinvent workflows, failure to support full use, adoption and uptake of new systems), the bullet train to failure is the lack of IT’s contribution to mission success. The problem is that we count the wrong things, focusing on attributes of projects such as cheaper, better, faster. By not focusing on outcomes generated by the investment of time and money on projects, we can at best deliver what the executives asked for, but not what the customer needs.

The situation calls for a new analysis and new approach project design: We can move past cost management, Return on Investment and our traditional focus on efficiency of the DevOps cycle (in IT for example) to an economics of value, achieve Return to Mission (RTM). With a Value Economics mindset, we can manage for value, pushing past “delivering projects” or even User/Customer experience, to user impact. It’s about planning for outcomes generated by the use, adoption, or uptake of the products and services we as PMs produce. Employing processes of value design, value accounting and value delivery, Value Management improves IT systems’ design, enables analysis for decision-making, and improves mission outcomes by intent.

This is a call to action for PMs. Value Management we can validate the benefits of the project, answering, “is it worth it?” By measuring the right things, defining the right units of outcomes, federal and nonprofit executives can make the implicit (“we want to improve mission performance”) explicit and visible (“we can show user benefit”). It’s about customer value, and it’s what our executives expect when they budget for projects, when they give us investments to manage. Projects deliver on mission and strategy…it’s time we measured it.

PMI Talent Triangle: Strategic and Business Management (Business Acumen)


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