ITFMA ’19 New Orleans: Post-Conference Highlight Roundup

ITFMA ’19 New Orleans: Post-Conference Highlight Roundup

New Orleans never disappoints and neither did last week’s ITFMA event! The Financial World of Information Technology Conference was loaded with fresh insights, actionable content, and of course, a variety of world class cuisines and libations.

In case you missed it, we rounded up a handful of the biggest highlights for you here…

Nicus Customer Sessions: Insights & Takeaways

Several Nicus customers were among the industry thought leaders who spoke at last week’s conference. Below is a quick summary of each session, along with the insights and takeaways they delivered.

Surviving and Thriving Through an ITFM System Implementation

Speakers: Ginger Allen, Senior Director, IT Business Management, GuideWell/Florida Blue & Nan Braun, CEO/Founder, Thavron Solutions

This session was an informal “fireside chat” between Ginger Allen from GuideWell Holdings, the parent company for Florida Blue (the Florida-based Blue Cross and Blue Shield plan) and moderator Nan Braun, founder of Thavron Solutions (a vendor-neutral ITFM tool implementation consultancy).

The discussion revealed details behind Ginger’s implementation of the Nicus ITFM solution to manage her organization’s annual IT spend of roughly half a billion dollars.

Here are three of the biggest takeaways from Ginger’s first-hand implementation experience:

  • Relationships are key: From start to finish, strong relationships are paramount to successful ITFM solution implementation, across the entire organization and with all stakeholder groups. For example… you need buy-in from executive leadership; you need cooperation and collaboration from data source owners; you need internal alliances with IT to build and maintain momentum for your project; and the list goes on.
  • Transparency isn’t everyone’s friend: More transparency is always good, right? Well, in principle, the answer is yes. But if you’ve got something to hide, you’re going to fight against it. That said, there will always be people who want to avoid shining a light on their area of the business. Keep this in mind as you bring new visibility to your organization. Encourage shared accountability, and let people know that there’s no reason to be scared or defensive. Help them understand that discovering hidden, ugly truths – and getting the chance to rectify them – is one of the biggest benefits of transparency.  
  • Don’t be afraid of problematic data: Even if you’re wrestling with missing, stale, or flawed data, the best thing you can do is simply take the first step. If you delay implementing an ITFM solution till you deem your data acceptable, you could be waiting a while. Besides, the very exercise of implementation forces you to start thinking about your data in ways you probably never have, which helps enormously in terms of improving quality and filling in gaps.

How to Make Bad Data Good Data

Speakers: Jennifer Hughes, Deputy Controller & Derek Martinez, Accounting Manager – State of Colorado Governor’s Office of Information Technology

Data struggles are one of the biggest barriers to growth and maturity for most ITFM practices. But setting out to fix problematic data is easier said than done.  

Jennifer Hughes and Derek Martinez from the State of Colorado delivered a session dealing with this exact problem – explaining how they conquered their data issues and what you can learn from their experience to do the same…

  • Persevere against inevitable roadblocks and naysayers: Nothing worth doing comes easy. You’re going to run into problems, and you’re going to have people in the peanut gallery saying you’ll never make it. Just ignore them and move on!
  • Make friends with data owners, understand their struggles, and know how to formulate your ask: Don’t expect to be able to just call up your data owners and get what you’re looking for. It’s going to take a little more nuance than that. Get to know them; understand their struggles; and be sensitive to their perspective when you start asking for data. You’d be surprised how far a thoughtful, friendly approach can take you.
  • Plan first, then divide and conquer: No, don’t plan yourself into paralysis; but do take the time to lay out a high-level strategy. The most important reason to have a plan is so you can communicate it out and get everyone reading from the same sheet of music. After that, press forward with intention, one step at a time.

Transform IT from Perceived Cost Center to Valued Business Partner

Speakers: Nicholas Kaliszewski Director, IT Financial Management, Erie Insurance Group

This session detailed Nicholas Kaliszewski’s journey to elevate IT through cost transparency at Erie Insurance Group. He delivered a wealth of information throughout the 45-minute presentation, but here are three key points that stood out above the rest…

  • How to see IT from the business’s perspective: Walk a mile in business leaders’ shoes and you’ll learn a lot about how they view IT and why. Most IT organizations don’t give the business enough information to be seen as a valued partner, which frustrates executive leadership and leaves IT out of strategic decision-making; and when IT does try to give information to the business, it’s rarely translated into terms stakeholders understand. Consequently, business leaders continue to see IT as a cost center to be cut, not a value driver for investment.
  • 3 perpetuators of IT’s “black box” reputation: The three core reasons IT struggles to build a solid report with the business are: lack of understanding (Stakeholders don’t have background to fully grasp the inner workings of IT),lack of interpretation (IT doesn’t work to translate their insights), and finally, the simple fact that IT is often an easy target (When there’s no transparency or justification of spend, it makes perfect sense to throw IT under the bus).
  • Why cost modeling is the #1 tool to reposition IT: The only way to escape IT’s perceived cost center status is to quantify the services it offers to the organization, the true cost of those services, and the ultimate business value those services provide. Once everything is out on the table, the conversation becomes very different.

Life with ITFM Tools: The First Year

Speaker: Matthew Campagnoli, Finance Director, State of Colorado Governor’s Office of Information Technology

To replace a legacy system comprised of outdated software, traditional spreadsheets, and paper hardcopy forms, the Colorado Governor’s Office of Information Technology (OIT) implemented three key modules of the Nicus solution set.

This session detailed OIT’s journey working with an ITFM solution for the first time, and what they learned over the first year after implementation…

  • Expect to expose flawed processes during implementation: This is both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, it’s always good to improve processes and boost efficiency; on the other hand, there couldn’t be a worse time to be forced into doing so than during software implementation. Nevertheless, you should expect to uncover things in your existing systems that must be changed to maximize efficacy of your ITFM solution. Just roll with the punches and improve as you go.
  • The biggest initial benefits are speed and accuracy: By consolidating your data into a single source of truth – and letting the solution handle all your calculations – you’re able to greatly increase the speed and accuracy of your workflow. Matthew explained that this is one of the most significant and immediate benefits his organization experienced by implementing an ITFM solution.
  • Your solution thrives on quality data: Even if you start out with good data, you must stay vigilant of data quality after implementation as well. Like Matthew says, “Data tables are like infants. They can’t go for long without your attention. And when they decide to make a mess, it’s usually a pretty big one.”

The Nicus ITFM Bootcamp

What makes IT Finance different from any other finance job? The devil’s in the details and understanding the finer points of what makes IT Finance unique is crucial for success.

This workshop is designed to get professionals new to the world of IT Finance up to speed quickly and easily. In the 2-day curriculum, students get the chance to dissect different types of IT spend, examine technologies deployed in a corporate data center facility and its operation, and deep-dive common accounting practices used by IT Finance professionals.

Additionally, this workshop discusses the emerging challenges facing all IT Finance organizations as they support a modern-day CIO, plus several detailed calculation exercises with answer keys and explanations.

For anyone who couldn’t attend the bootcamp, we’re making all the materials covered at the live event freely available online…

Download the Full ITFM Bootcamp Curriculum Here

3 Key Sessions Led by Nicus Chief Evangelist Rob Mischianti

Here’s a brief summary of the content that Nicus co-founder Rob Mischianti delivered at ITFMA ’19 in New Orleans.

If you’d like to get a copy of all three slide decks from Rob’s sessions, just click here to download them instantly.

A Practitioner’s Guide to Cost Modeling

The material in this session was targeted to ITFM practitioners and leaders interested in either… 1) building an accurate IT cost model for the first time, or 2) refining and improving an existing cost model. The presentation included a thorough explanation of current cost modeling best practices from the ground up, including:

  • Establishing cost models and defining their value
  • Capturing direct and indirect costs
  • Indirect cost cross-allocation
  • Iterating models to improve quality and accuracy
  • Avoiding “precision traps” (simplicity vs. complexity)
  • Introducing and defending new models

Delivering Value with IT Finance

Informed decision-making is the core objective of IT Financial Management, and the key to delivering value. But to enable better decisions and deliver maximum value, IT leadership must reframe their relationship with the business in two crucial ways:

  1. Extend capabilities to analyze and report costs
  2. Translate insights into a common language the business understands

This session served as a guide for IT Finance to do both of those things – elevating its status as a valued, trusted partner to the business.

Everything You Need to Know About Data

IT Finance and ITFM solutions have a huge appetite for accurate and complete data. Required data often includes detailed content from financial systems, complex configurations and usage data from IT management applications, business metrics, and much more; a mature IT Finance operation can easily consume data from dozens of sources. This session examined common data sources, along with collection methods, automation, structure, content, and practical and effective usage. 

In case you didn’t catch these sessions live, the content from each is available for free at the link below…

Download All 3 Session Slide Decks Here

Up Next: ITFMA in San Antonio, TX (July 15-19)

It might go without saying, but we are thrilled to see everyone at the next upcoming ITFMA event in San Antonio, TX. If you missed all the fun in New Orleans, this is your chance to make up for it… registration is still open at the link below!

Register Now