Public-sector organisations struggle to measure the effectiveness of government-funded IT programmes according to SAP.

The German company is participating in separate e-government assessment programmes in the US and Europe and will address the various challenges at The Impact of eGovernment in Europe conference next month in Helsinki, said Ian Swann, vice president of SAP's public sector unit.

Last year, SAP joined a programme headed by the Center for Technology in Government at Albany State University in New York to help address the challenge of calculating return on investment (ROI) for public sector IT initiatives. The organisation has drafted a document offering a methodology for measuring ROI, based on the assessment of five case studies.

The company is also a contributor to the EU-funded Picture Project, a web-based system that lets government officials measure the impact of information and communication technologies on organisational processes, enabling informed choices for long-term technology investments.

"This isn't just about investing in IT but about investing in transforming the way governments deliver service," Swann said. "We're trying to show them ways to justify their investments in what's being achieved."

While pointing to SAP's software expertise in areas such as accounting, human resources and logistics, Swann acknowledged an eagerness on the part of many governments, such as Germany and France, to create applications on "open architectures."

Public-sector organisations will use "open source where it is appropriate and where it works," added Swann.

Currently, sales to the public sector account for roughly 10 percent of SAP's total revenue and are growing, according to Swann.

But selling to governments, which "are and will remain under severe financial constraints," will continue to be a challenge, he said: "That's why we have to deliver value to what they're doing."