The Grit Factor


As the weather warms up this time of year, I start thinking about dusting off my golf clubs.  I recently thumbed through an old Golf Digest and came across an article called "The Grit Factor:  Getting to the Heart of What Makes Winners vs Losers" by Bob Carney.  The premise of the article is around the key ingredients that gives a golfer grit and things you can do to increase your grit.  As a student of sports analogies, I couldn’t help but think of how "7 Keys to Becoming a Gritty Golfer" might translate to becoming an ITFM practitioner with grit.  Below is my translation of Bob Carey's tips:

1. Relish Every Shot

  • In golf, it's critical to be present for EVERY shot and not just the 'important' ones.  Similarly, in the business world, it's important to be well-rested, prepared, and focused for every meeting you attend and decision you make.

2. Control the Talk

  • Gritty golfers know it’s counterproductive to berate themselves for what they did wrong.  Likewise, you need to be realistic about what went well and what didn’t.  Recognize that sometimes you have to make the best decision you can with what you know at that time.  Things will never work out as perfectly as planned so accept that, learn from your mistakes, and move on.

3. Find a Mentor

  • A mentor will help you to build a plan, review your progress, and keep you focused on your goals.  This is the recipe for progress and success.

4. Set a Major Goal

  • This is pretty obvious and self-explanatory.  Identify what you ultimately want in the long-term and work with your mentor to get there.  An example of a major goal might be to implement a complete ITFM solution from Alpha to Omega.

5. Break Your Goal Down

  • Never try to boil the ocean.  Instead, break a major goal into smaller milestones.  This is called a strategic roadmap.  Continuing with the example above, break your major goal of building a complete ITFM solution into four milestones:  1) budgeting & forecasting; 2) Service Costing; 3) Bill of IT; 4) Application TCO. 

6. Develop a Plan

  • Another self-explanatory one:  determine how you are going to achieve your major and milestone goals.  This is called a tactical roadmap. 

7. Assess your Habits

  • Many great coaches will say you play how you practice.  Be cognizant that all those little things you do day-in and day-out add up to how you perform overall.  Make sure you're always approaching your day in your best form and ready to make thoughtful, smart decisions.

As you can see, there are some very applicable lessons that can be learned from golf.   Please let us know if there's anything Nicus can do to make you a gritty ITFM practitioner.

Until next time,

Kristie

The Great Pendulum Swing of IT Cost Transparency:  From “Black Hole” to “Data Overload”


At one time or another, most of us in IT or IT Finance have heard things like “IT is a big black hole” or “I don’t understand what I am getting for the millions of dollars I am spending.”  Because of this, many organizations set off on a journey to provide transparency into IT Costs.  While IT cost transparency is not the ultimate goal, it is an important foundation that is made possible through the use of ITFM tools and processes.  This transparency enables three key goals of an ITFM program:

  • To convey the business value resulting from the IT Services – consumers of IT Services need to understand what they are receiving and how their business decisions can drive IT costs up or down.
  • To provide insight to IT Service and Application owners – these owners need this information to identify ways to improve efficiency and cut costs while increasing value.
  • To align IT Spend to Business Objectives – all organizations need to ensure all dollars spent are meeting critical objectives and IT spend is no exception.

Unfortunately, some organizations make the mistake and let the pendulum swing from the nebulous “Black Hole” all the way over to “Data Overload”.  ITFM programs can provide too much data causing customers to be overwhelmed and fall victim to “paralysis by analysis” when they don’t know how to interpret or use all that data.  To hit the sweet spot, organizations must empower their IT and IT Finance experts to summarize and analyze the data with the goal of highlighting value as well as potential risks and opportunities.

For example, I often wonder how I can save on energy costs in my home and if I am getting maximum value for the $500 a month I spend on heat and electric.  I can look at my monthly bill and see I used 1,000 KW and 200 Metric Cubic Feet of Natural Gas but what can I do with that information without any other context?  Not much.  Therefore, I need additional context to affect change (ie. reduce my bill or maximize the services I receive).  Some questions I might ask include:

  • What is the typical amount of energy used by similar homes in my area?  (aka benchmarking)
  • What are my other options for energy sources?
  • Are my appliances old and inefficient?
  • Do I have enough insulation?
  • Do I have energy leaking through poorly sealed windows and doors?
  • Am I heating the house and leaving lights on at times where no one is home?

Similarly, it is not enough to tell an IT Service consumer in your organization that they are being charged $1M for Storage.  They also need some context like:

  • Which business applications are using that storage?
  • Why is that application using so much storage?
  • Are there certain data retention policies in place that drive a need for a large amount of storage? 
  • Is there an opportunity to move to a less expensive tier of storage and if so, are there any risks to that? 

As you can see, detailed data paints only part of the picture.  It is critical we are cognizant of how we are presenting data to different audiences.  If we expect our consumers to change behavior, we need to accompany this information with appropriate insight and context.  

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Are you ready for some football?


It’s show time in Atlanta on February 5th for the Atlanta Falcons and the New England Patriots. Each team made it to Super Bowl LI primarily because of great talent; however, that’s not all that got them there. Coaching staff had to analyze opponents, develop strategies, practice techniques, and implement game plans throughout the season and playoffs to succeed. That’s what ultimately got them to the Big Game.

Much like successful football teams, Nicus approaches IT financial and business management using strategic, detailed, and analytical techniques. Not surprisingly, it’s a topic we often discuss during conference presentations and interactions with clients and prospects. Sometimes, we receive feedback or hear statements such as:

  • “I think an 80% solution will be just fine”
  • “I don’t have the time or resources to strategically assess and improve my IT financial management”

We understand that managing technology operations and finances are difficult, and that improving is almost never easy.  Yet, we still believe that taking a strategic, detailed, and analytical approach is something that can help organizations improve their IT financial and business management tremendously.  From what we’ve seen, there is still plenty that can be done in almost every organization.

The 80% Solution

Is an 80% solution acceptable?  Consider the following examples that help illustrate what 80% really means:

  • Four hours and 48 minutes of unsafe drinking water each day
  • 19 hours and 12 minutes of electricity to run data centers each day
  • One out of every five cars on the road without brakes
  • Company’s year-end financial results only has 9 months of correct data
  • Personal checking account register missing 6 days of transactions

The point of these examples is to illustrate that, although it may be difficult, when it comes to evaluating ITFM/ITBM tools and strategies, you should be aiming for the right solution.  There will always be limitations and resource constraints.  There will always be facets of an implementation where it is acceptable that data and/or calculations are directionally correct.  The point is, if you start out accepting an 80% solution overall, you will probably wind up with far less than that. 

You should attempt to find the right people, process, and technology to cover all the goals and priorities of your organization. Of course, there will be compromises, challenges, and frustrations along the way.  The Atlanta Falcons and New England Patriots do not aim for “good enough” and neither should you from the beginning.  You should always aim for what’s needed.  You might be surprised at how many times that can be achieved when approached correctly.

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A season for giving


Nicus gives to Haiti

It seems like the end of another year is cause for reflection.  Many of us are lucky to spend the holidays surrounded by family and friends, enjoying feasts and treats in homes blessed with modern conveniences including heat, lights, and running water.  We often take this for granted.

I can’t help but think about people near and dear to my heart – the resilient people of Haiti.  It was one year ago that I was preparing for a mission trip there with Reiser Relief (www.reiserrelief.org) when I got a call that Nicus Software was making a generous donation to the Reiser Relief organization.  Their mission is to provide relief, hope, and dignity to the most vulnerable people of Haiti.  We all know Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, but I was humbled by the incredible Haitian spirit despite their deplorable living conditions and lack of things we take for granted.  Unfortunately, the vulnerabilities and needs are even bigger after they endured the wrath of Hurricane Matthew just two months ago.

I am encouraged by the continuous support from generous people and organizations, like Nicus, who open their heart to help those in need.  If you would like more information about Nicus’ charitable campaigns, please visit: http://www.nicus.com/community.

Until next time,

Kristie

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Gartner IT Financial, Procurement & Asset Management Summit


IT practitioners gathered from around the world in Grapevine, TX on September 18-21, 2016 for three days of IT-related presentations, roundtable discussions, clinics, and workshops.  These sessions were led by various industry authorities including Gartner analysts, industry experts, and senior business leaders.  There was a tremendous amount of experience and knowledge shared during this event.  As you know, Nicus Software is a leader in IT Financial Management (ITFM) so it’s no surprise that we were a premier sponsor at this year’s conference.  We appreciated the opportunity to meet, share battle scars, and discuss hot topics with other IT finance practitioners.

One of the highlights from the event was the session titled “A Practitioner’s Framework for IT Financial Management” co-presented by Rob Mischianti from Nicus Software and David DuBois from BJ’s Wholesale Club.  During the presentation, Rob and David shared their views on industry best practices by reviewing an ITFM framework that was developed by some of the best practitioners in the industry and provided a tactical roadmap for managing, executing, and maturing IT Finance operations.  The very applicable thoughts, knowledge, and experience shared during this presentation were invaluable to all who attended.  I especially appreciated the pragmatic and down-to-earth approach to the content of the discussion as well as the Q&A session that followed.  A huge thanks to Rob and David for a wonderfully insightful presentation that represented the heart and soul of Nicus Software so well!  Follow this link http://www.nicus.com/resources/detail/a-practitioners-framework-for-it-financial-management to learn more about the Nicus Software Practitioner’s Framework.

Nicus Software has helped companies around the world better manage their costs, particularly IT spend, for several years. More recently, we have been working hard to design and build more standardized modules within the M-PWR tool.  The result of this effort is the four standard M-PWR modules:  Planning (including Vendor Expense Management), Service Costing, Bill of IT, and Application TCO.  We were thrilled to share this more comprehensive and innovative approach to ITFM with so many of the conference attendees.  I’m very excited to think about the cutting-edge developments we will be sharing with conference attendees next year in Nashville, TN!

Until next time,

Kristie

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