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May 18, 2009

Meaningful metrics needed to prove value of SOA

Analyst warns on simple views of service reuse

By CBR Staff Writer

Gartner has cautioned that IT shops need to manage expectations and measure the full benefits of service reuse before investments made in service-oriented architecture (SOA) can be deemed a success.

The analyst house has found 40% of IT shops with an active SOA programme do not measure the time to achieve return on investment, and 50% of non-SOA-users have failed to adopt SOA simply because they find it hard to articulate and demonstrate its business value.

Gartner has found that in most cases, reuse is often referred to but not precisely quantified.

“Measuring SOA value through the reuse of services is relatively simple, and conveys meaningful value to the IT department and to the business, especially in application development and maintenance cost savings,” it said.

But although it is the most commonly used value metric for a SOA project, service reuse is only one of the benefits of service architectures, Gartner noted. “We believe that service reuse is not the end of the value chain; it is a step in the process, an enabler of benefits.”

Massimo Pezzini at Gartner said, “Some SOA projects are perceived to have failed when in fact there are simply no well established metrics to evaluate success. Therefore sometimes the benefits are there, but people keep arguing how much better things are, and whether any improvement is really linked to SOA.”

To keep expectations real the analyst group recommends that organisations initially focus on achieving just one key benefit from a list of potential business advantages of SOA.

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These are the improved efficiency in business processes execution that can result from SOA, quicker time to market or shorter project cycles, the enablement of new fast-growth business models, and the shift in IT culture from new developments to reuse.

Practitioners are advised to use agility metrics that are linked to improved execution of a key business process for an initial SOA project, and cost metrics linked to service reuse when the SOA effort is maturing.


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