The process begins simply with ideas. Anyone in the company may submit an idea within their business unit by providing sufficient information to permit objective evaluation of it. Each idea is reviewed to decide if it merits further attention and approval to continue to the next stage (planning). Each business technology executive (the senior liaison between the business unit and IT) has regularly scheduled meetings where submitted ideas are discussed with each idea's sponsor in the business unit. These leaders decide which ideas are eligible to advance to the next level, the planning stage. Gate 1 in the process occurs here with business units deciding whether they will fund the planning stage, a short feasibility study, to identify potential fatal flaws and further refine the idea. Costs of the planning stage are expensed within the sponsoring business unit. This initial hurdle is a high one. Of the 309 ideas currently in the system only 12% have progressed past the idea gate and into further stages, as shown in Exhibit E.

Each idea submitted for consideration by a business unit is evaluated using consistent metrics. These include nine criteria for scoring business value and seven criteria for scoring technology innovation. These are plotted on axes in bubble charts generated by Xcel Energy's portfolio management system, using the data entered and managed by the project teams as shown in Exhibit F. The data is focused on quantifying the business value ...

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