I was trying to think how to get another TLA in that title, since I think you get a prize for having three three-letter-acronyms in a row.
However, the topic is definitely getting a lot of attention as companies try to decide whether SOA is worth the effort. The problem is, SOA benefits span a wide range, and are often difficult to assess. And yet, as John Soat notes in Information Week, real customers are showing major gains with SOA.
My take is that it is important to sort benefits into a spectrum of tangibleness (if such a word exists). So, reducing redundancy should have an actual dollar value reduction in maintenance costs – a tangible number. Delivering the agility to deal with new regulations more quickly is difficult to estimate in dollar terms, but could even be a survival issue. Seems to me the key is to find a way to include the full range of elements in any justification or evaluation.
Perhaps one way to add a dollar value benefit on some of the intangible benefits is to ask the executive in charge of the area most affected how much they would be prepared to pay to solve the issue. So, it might be interesting to ask the CFO how much he would invest to ensure the company could comply with new regulations within the assigned deadlines. This, then, becomes a tangible number that can be plugged into the case.