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Integrating value-focused thinking and FITradeoff to support information technology outsourcing decisions

Thiago Poleto (Department of Business Administration, Universidade Federal do Pará, Belém, Brazil)
Thárcylla Rebecca Negreiros Clemente (Department of Management Engineering CAA, Universidade Federal de Pernambuco, Caruaru, Brazil)
Ana Paula Henriques de Gusmão (Department of Management Engineering, Universidade Federal de Sergipe, São Cristóvão, Brazil)
Maisa Mendonça Silva (Department of Management Engineering, Universidade Federal de Pernambuco, Recife, Brazil)
Ana Paula Cabral Seixas Costa (Department of Management Engineering, Universidade Federal de Pernambuco, Recife, Brazil)

Management Decision

ISSN: 0025-1747

Article publication date: 7 July 2020

Issue publication date: 11 December 2020




The information technology (IT) outsourcing (ITO) decision is a key issue in strategic and operational management and is considered a main critical factor influencing successful organizational performance and technology assessment. The purpose of this paper is to propose a framework combining value-focused thinking (VFT) methodology and the FITradeoff method to support decisions regarding ITO.


This study answers the following questions: How to identify, in a structured way, the objectives that should be considered in an ITO decision process in a changing environment? How to identify new IT services to be outsourced from the established objectives? The VFT method is recommended in this case to structure and model the problem. Moreover, the FITradeoff multicriteria method was considered in this study to support the evaluation and prioritization of IT services in an ITO decision


The framework provides promising results for ITO decisions. This study revealed that a lack of strategic and fundamental objectives is a critical issue in making ITO decisions. Although the VFT methodology is subjective in nature, it promotes a better understanding of goals and values, and FITradeoff allows the decision-maker to make comparisons of consequences based on his/her preferences.

Research limitations/implications

The recommendations of the study are restricted to the case study and cannot be generalized. In addition, applying the method requires attention in determining the criteria used for outsourcing IT.

Practical implications

The strategic analysis of ITO provides a holistic view of the current situation since (i) the VFT methodology enables the IT manager to generate new alternatives to assist future decisions and (ii) FITradeoff has been demonstrated as a suitable option to evaluate ITO decisions.


To the best of our knowledge, this is the first paper to utilize a problem structuring method (VFT) to identify criteria and alternatives based on the organizational values and objectives. This is integrated with a multicriteria method that uses partial information and may consequently lead to fewer inconsistencies (FITradeoff) in the context of ITO.



This research was partially supported by the Universidade Federal de Pernambuco and GPSID – The Decision and Information Systems Research Group. The authors would like to acknowledge National Council for the Improvement of Higher Education (PNPD/ CAPES)-PPGEP-CAA, CAPES, a foundation affiliated with the Ministry of Education in Brazil and PROPESP/UFPA. Further, the authors would like to thank the Center for Decision Systems and Information Development – CDSID for providing the FITradeoff software license (


Poleto, T., Clemente, T.R.N., de Gusmão, A.P.H., Silva, M.M. and Costa, A.P.C.S. (2020), "Integrating value-focused thinking and FITradeoff to support information technology outsourcing decisions", Management Decision, Vol. 58 No. 11, pp. 2279-2304.



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