To align IT with enterprise objectives, companies need to understand technology/IT investments, utilization and value to the business. A growing number of organizations accomplish this with IT financial and business management (ITFBM) solutions – technology combined with the optimal business processes for increasing IT management maturity, not simply by purchasing another software application module.
While ITFBM solutions play a key role in a best-practices approach to managing the expenses and consumption of IT products and services, not all technology management solutions are created equal. The options run the gamut from specialized software to a more comprehensive offering that includes business process services and access to expert counsel.
While a do-it-yourself approach may have been en vogue historically, technology on its own does not deliver the rigor and discipline needed for measuring IT utilization and consumption. ITFBM software applications alone often end up as shelfware, especially when it’s not intuitive or fails to deliver on its intended value.
Conversely, when complete ITFBM solutions are implemented with experienced counsel and best practices IT management processes, organizations can achieve the full advantages of today’s focused ITFBM solutions.
When evaluating ITFBM software vs. complete ITFBM solutions:
- Know what kind of specialized expertise is required. IT financial management requires a highly specialized skill set. If your organization purchases software and doesn’t have trained resources, including business and technology analysts, it will need to develop these capabilities. This requires investing in recruiting, hiring and training staff along with salaries, benefits and other elements such as developing continuity plans, in case of employee turnover.
A complete ITFBM solution, on the other hand, includes all necessary ITFBM business process services. The right partner will serve as an extension of the corporate IT finance management organization and bring these specialized capabilities.
- Define roles and responsibilities. Get clarity on what is –and is not– included as part of a complete IT finance and business management solution. Business needs change, so it is imperative to identify how all ITFBM processes are managed and to clearly define who is responsible.
Inquire how change is managed, and how that impacts the service or cost for ITFBM software applications. Define key stakeholders from the IT team who are responsible for managing and ensuring receipt of the disparate source files. Ask if the generated IT sub-ledger file can be uploaded automatically, free of errors, into the corporate financial system or if that onus is on the internal IT or corporate finance team.
- Look under the hood. Investigate what is considered standard and what is extra from an ITFBM vendor to accurately budget and understand the value associated with an ITFBM solution. For example, if software upgrades or business process services cost extra, or there are additional fees if corporate systems, records or other adapters change, organizations need to ensure they understand these additional fees and budget for them. Recognize that a solutions provider that offers ITFBM software applications combined with business process services at a level of predictability can support more accurate budgeting for the complete solution.
- Put checks and balances in place. ITFBM is data-intensive, requiring continual data quality checks and controls to ensure accuracy of data source files and outputs. If the IT organization doesn’t have appropriate internal expertise and resources to manage this key process, they will not achieve accurate or sustainable IT financial transparency. The right ITFBM solution provider will include this with the overall ITFBM solution. As such, this solution extension to the enterprise provides that “extra set of resources” to ensure the utmost of accuracy is consistently and sustainably presented within the ITFBM solution.
The right ITFBM solution will provide increased financial transparency for technology investments and consumption based on accurate data in a consistent manner to the corporate reporting cycles. However, the right ITFBM business partner will do more than that – they add value to the enterprise by systemically solving the very real challenge of IT cost and consumption transparency. They do this not merely with software, but with IT financial management best-practices, processes, methodologies, expertise and intimate domain-knowledge that is transparent and visible across the entire corporate structure.