Business case for BiSL (part 1)

As one of the authors of the BiSL framework I have been involved from the start in promoting the framework. This focused initially on the Dutch market. In Holland we now see a wide acceptance of the BiSL framework and it is regarded as the industry standard for business information management. Interest from abroad for the framework is currently growing.

People who are new to the framework ask themselves what the business case for adopting the BiSL framework is. This question inspired me to write this blog. In essence, the added value is still related to the goals that led to development of the framework: helping organizations with their control over information, information systems and IT, and their role as commissioner of IT projects and IT suppliers. Since the introduction of BiSL in 2005, many organizations have put the framework into use and have stories to tell about the added value that the framework delivered. In this blog I will start with three cases, and add more in a future blog.

Better policing of persistent offenders

For the first case I would also like to refer to the article ’Industrial Experience Report: BiSL as Driver for Innovating Business Information Management in the Dutch Police Organization(s)’ that was published in the SPICE2013 13th International Conference Proceedings by Springer, Heidelberg 2013 and that is available elsewhere on this website. Information is vital for the police and the Dutch Police Force applied the underlying principles of BiSL and used the process descriptions to create a common understanding. In order to achieve this common understanding, over 2500 employees participated in a BiSL training program and took a BiSL exam. This led to several inter-organizational initiatives. One of these was a regular joint committee that explored the use of IT in dealing with persistent offenders. In so doing the police discovered large differences in the processes of the various autonomous police organizations and even larger differences in the use of IT. These differences enabled criminals to escape from detection. A joint business process was developed, including joint use of IT by several police organizations. Conclusion: the police achieved better policing processes across several organizations and a joint (and therefore more economical) use of IT resources. This is only one example of the added value of BiSL for the Dutch police.

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More efficient management of information

The second case concerns another large Dutch government organization. This organization relies heavily on the use of (heavily automated) information systems. The IT budget is a major part of their total budget. Business information management plays an important role in getting the maximum added value from IT and information. Centralized units are responsible for business information management tasks. BiSL being a control framework, this organization found this framework very useful for structuring their business information management function. All employees active in this field received training in the BiSL framework. This led to common understanding of the responsibilities of Business information management. Roles within the business information management function where defined and processes were designed. This increased the overall flexibility. People can switch from one information domain to another far more easily than they used to, because the working processes are similar and employees know what is expected off them. So, after switching domains, the only concern left is mastering the knowledge that is specific to the new information domain.

Improved enterprise agility

The last case in this blog is about a large insurance company. This company is the result of mergers and takeovers. This caused a large variation in IT use and governance. This led to all kinds of problems: Tower of Babel situations, huge inefficiencies, large overlaps in functionalities of information systems and an enormous diversity in IT contracts. In other words: an unworkable and undesirable situation. The insurance company found BiSL to be very useful as an approach to improve this situation. As a first result, BiSL offered a common understanding of looking at things. This enabled the organization to construct a very recognizable and widely accepted way of working. Different business units got able to fit their individual information plans into a corporate strategy. And this formed the basis for the company to be able to renovate its overall information landscape, which was badly needed due to various changes in the field of legislation, commerce, consumer behavior and technology. Without this complete IT renovation, the company would have had a very difficult challenge in surviving on the market.

In this blog I outlined three examples of different situations with different value that the BiSL framework provided to three different types of organizations with different circumstances. I hope this will be useful in evaluating the potential of the BiSL framework for your own organization.

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