Don't Assume: Measure SOA's Success or Failure


One of my favorite Seinfeld episodes is the one where George Costanza's father, Frank, introduces Festivus-a grouch's alternative to all the end-of-the-year holidays. Festivus, Frank explained, is the holiday where "you gather your family around, and you tell them all the ways they have disappointed you over the past year."


To tell the truth, my life is full of George Costanza moments. But skimming through the integration news today, it was like Festivus came early this year.


In particular, I was pretty chafed by Gartner's recent press release on a survey of 200 UK companies. Gartner found that 40 percent of companies are not measuring how long it takes them to achieve an ROI (return on investment) with SOA.


Now that's annoying. Or, to quote Frank at the airing of grievances during the Festivus dinner:


"I got a lot of problems with you people! And now you're gonna hear about it!"


Of course, I'm sure none of the brilliant readers at IT Business Edge are guilty of this, because we all know what assuming, rather than measuring, does. It makes a horse's patootie out of you and me, that's what it does.


So, present company excepted, it's annoying that in this day and age, IT would fail to establish metrics and measure ROI on something as substantial as SOA. It makes me want to buy a pole and lift weights for the feats of strength.


True, the discussion on SOA's ROI was a bit fuzzy in the early days, but since then, analysts and experts have shared plenty of tips for success and metrics for calculating SOA's ROI. Heck, I've even discussed SOA's potential green ROI.


Still, if you'd like more, the Gartner press release includes these benefits that can be used as a launching point for your ROI calculations:


  • Lowering total cost of application development and maintenance
  • Support for new, fast-growth business models
  • Improved efficiency in business processes execution
  • Quicker time to market and shorter project cycles


What's more, Forrester Research recently released a list of five major transformative IT projects that wouldn't be possible without SOA, including modernizing and integrating legacy applications.


If you don't measure it, how will you know if it's a success or failure? You won't, according to Gartner research vice president and fellow Massimo Pezzini, who adds that may be tainting SOA's perceived failure rate:


"Many companies come to SOA with excessive expectations, such as immediately achieving quicker project cycles, but users often are not aware of the efforts, resources and time needed to achieve these benefits. Consequently, some SOA projects are perceived to have failed when in fact there are simply no well established metrics to evaluate success."


Or, as Joe McKendrick asked, "With all the discussion about 'SOA failures' in recent years, one has to wonder how organizations would know if their SOAs have 'failed?'"


It's like how many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop-if no one's counting, the world-or worse, your CEO, CFO and CIO - may never know.


So, please, measure your ROI, for SOA, for everything - otherwise, you may be getting an invite to this year's Festivus dinner.