Increasing Adoption of Your ITFM Processes
The success rate of your ITFM program increases with broad user adoption. This can be a challenge for many reasons but there are things that you can do to ensure success! Three of the most important are:
Communicate Clearly and Often
Having the right communication plan and change management processes in place is often overlooked and undervalued. When you embark on your ITFM journey, identify the various groups that will be impacted – whether as information contributors or information users.
Utilize change management communication tools such has newsletters, brown bag lunch and learns, and smaller group presentations to inform audiences and collect feedback. Have the one on one conversations with Executive Leadership to ensure that they support the initiative and communicate the value to their organizations.
Ensure that you have effective ways for users to ask questions, provide feedback and share any concerns or ideas. Involving various stakeholders in the process is necessary to get buy-in early-on in the journey.
Know your Audiences
There are several and they all have different needs! Understand those needs so that you are able to produce meaningful, actionable data for those audiences.
- This group is accountable for Total Cost of IT Services and Unit Costs of IT Services
- Ensure they buy in to the methodology used for calculating the IT Cost (but resist making changes that increase complexity without value!)
- Ensure they buy in to the methodology and metrics for distributing IT Service Costs to End Users and Applications
- Design your ITFM Process to provide:
- Insight into the true drivers of cost
- Unit Cost information with analysis regarding fixed versus variable expense impacts
- Metrics and Data that support various initiatives surrounding a particular IT Service Offering such as Tech Refresh, Virtualization, Cloud
- This group is accountable for Total Cost of an Application including Hardware, Software & Labor
- Ensure they buy in to the Allocation metric that will be used to charge costs to Consumers
- Design your ITFM Process to provide:
- Insight into the true drivers of cost
- Notification about renewal dates with enough lead time for making decisions about changing direction
- Metrics and Data that supports various initiatives surrounding Applications such as Re-Platforming, App Rationalization, Sourcing
- Ensure they buy in to the Data sources and metrics that will be used to charge various IT Services and Applications
- Design your ITFM Process to provide:
- IT Costs supporting various Business Services
- Cost of Applications and the value the business is receiving
- Business decisions and options that can drive utilization of IT services
Take it in Phases
It is very tempting to want to get from A to Z immediately. There is value in where you are going and it makes sense that you want to get there quickly, however, it can be beneficial to phase your implementation-especially if you are starting from scratch.
- An initial phase could involve sharing preliminary numbers with IT partners to engage them and encourage data quality and completeness
- Don’t automate all data sources and reporting immediately. As you begin to use reports, questions will inevitably arise that may cause changes to metrics and/or methodologies.
- Have a base set of reports in the initial phase then get feedback from data owners and consumers on what additional reporting would be useful.
- As you move along the ITFM maturity continuum, you will go from providing transparency to providing insight and context. As much as we want it to be like flipping a switch, it can take some time to get all the way there.
Enabling Actionable Transparency Through Allocated Views of IT Spend
- ITFM provides allocated views of IT spend
- Each view is generated by separate data & processes
- Each view provides value to key and select stakeholders
- Services View: Provides insight into technology service costs and unit rates. Enables Service managers to drive down unit rates and benchmark against outside suppliers and piers
- Consumer View: Provides insight into what organizational entities benefit from IT and helps the CIO demonstrate value
- Application View: Provides the Total Cost Ownership (TCO) of Applications and enables application rationalization exercises
- Business Capability View: Provides insight into costs to support business capabilities. Helps the CIO align existing spend and new IT investments more directly to business function
Quality ITFM views provide visibility into IT costs at all levels of an organization, and can deliver actionable data many different decision makers.
Elements of Effective IT Planning
An important component of successful IT planning, budgeting and forecasting is the ability to align top-down financial targets with bottom-up plans. Some organizations establish top-down targets and then turn the annual budgeting process, along with a mandate to meet those numbers, over to IT or corporate finance. Other organizations require detailed, bottom-up planning, and then rollup numbers at the top, so that the plan meets strategic targets. Neither of these approaches results in planning excellence. Instead, IT organizations should provide initial guidance from senior management’s top-down perspective on strategic goals, objectives, and expectations. Then, department, branch, and line of business managers can build a plan from the bottom-up, indicating how each intends to meet established goals. The process requires recurrent versions for these approaches to meet and be reconciled.
The result is a plan that is supported by:
- Managers, because they helped create it and will be rewarded for meeting it.
- Senior management, because operational goals are aligned with strategic goals.
- IT and corporate finance, because they add value to a productive, collaborative effort, rather than demanding participation in a worthless exercise.
Not only should strategic and operating plans be aligned, but plans between different regions and functional areas should also be coordinated. Best practices include direct involvement by portfolio and line of business managers from across the enterprise along with a collaborative approach to budgeting and forecasting. In addition to understanding strategic goals, managers also need to know what other functions are involved in planning. For example, in an insurance company that is planning a new claims system rollout, marketing needs to increase advertising, and customer service representatives need to be trained. But the plan should also consider new headcount, computer systems, and so on. Such collaborative planning can be accomplished through an iterative process that lets managers forecast and share alternative scenarios. IT finance plays a key role in facilitating the coordination of plans across the IT organization, which helps ensure that operational tactics are aligned with financial targets throughout the organization.
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,
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.