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Building It Business Case

In: Business and Management

Submitted By ptgaaa
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Building an IT Business Case – BBC 0701

Submitted by: Paul Martin, 12 November, 2006

Summary of What Constitutes Strong Evidence of a Program’s Effectiveness?

Two notions are initially introduced as approaches to answering the title question: 1) Effectiveness is understood to mean the impact of the program and 2) There are numerous methodologies used to demonstrate effectiveness or impact. Examples of these methodologies are provided:
* Randomized Controlled Trials – An RCT is a study that measures interventions effect by randomly assigning a person or persons to intervene into a program environment where non-intervened groups can be observed as well.
* Direct Controlled Trials – Environment factors can be directly controlled to test effectiveness of a weapon system or new technology expected to operate in the environments that are created and directly controlled.
* Quasi-Experimental or Comparison Group Studies – those with compared to those without intervention.
* Non-Experimental Direct Analysis – may be used to analyze why a program is so effective.

More detailed descriptions of these basic assessment methodologies are provided by the author, who goes on to introduce one of the central challenges to developing strong evidence of a program’s effectiveness – VALID measurement of the outcome or impact of a program compared to VALID measurement of what outcomes would have been in the absence of the program. This probably leads to another supported white paper for modeling and simulation. This article goes on to support the RCT and the unique advantage it has to allow for the evaluation of the intervention itself, as opposed to other factors, that cause the observed outcomes. With large enough numbers in the intervention group, there can be no doubt that the observed differences are attributable to the intervention RCT. The random selection is intended to eliminate any further bias.

The original premise regarding PART that spoke of independent evaluations of sufficient scope and quality conducted on a regular basis to support program improvements and (constant) evaluation of effectiveness and relevance to the problem (and/or solutions) caused me to believe that there would be further references to Process Control and Quality Assurance. I remember days when we were told the road to effective improvement of any process is to assume the process is always ‘out of control’ – demanding constant monitoring, testing, collection of control data, and modification of process specifications that deliver better widgets below cost and ahead of schedule.

Instead, after further reading of the article, as it supposedly related to the effectiveness of either the PMA or OMB Circular A-11, I started wondering if I had gotten the wrong article. The RCT examples and effectiveness for the programs seemed to have, as indicated in the article, a BIAS towards medical studies, or human behavior groups. Look forward to further discussion on PART and the use of RCTs.

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