Demonstrating Value For Money

With fairly significant spending cuts announced this week, it looks like we’re headed for a tough time in the current months, and I suspect that IT teams will have to bear their fair share of the budget cuts.

Since IT tends to be quite an expensive service, there may well be an expectation (often misplaced) that easy savings can be made in such a large budget.

I think it’s vitally important now to make sure that we, as IT professionals, work much harder at communicating how we add value, and be more bold in talking about our successes.

In conversations that I’ve had with end users, it’s evident that they struggle to see past the computer on their desk; as far as they’re concerned, that’s mainly what IT represents. Much of what we do – manage contracts, maintain infrastructure, oversee projects etc – is, to the average person, abstract and hard to visualize.

One of the ways to address this problem is through the use of a service catalogue; a comprehensive list of services provided the IT Department. It’s important to link each of these services to specific business activity, so that dependencies are made explicit. For example, it would quickly become evident that most business activity is dependent on a fully functioning network.

A further step, and potentially a more contentious one, would be to put a cost against each service, so that the cost of providing IT for any given element of business activity would be obvious.

Having said that, I could understand why people might be a little bit reluctant to go down this route; what if it turns out that the service is expensive, and represents poor value?

My response to that would be that if an IT service is offering poor value, that will become evident anyway, so we might as well be upfront about what the costs are so that we can address them, before words like “outsourcing” get mentioned.

I also think, as I mentioned in last week’s blog, that behaviours need to change. It’s all well and good developing service catalogues and value chains, but the organisation needs to feel that it is getting value for money. This can only be achieved by building and developing strong relationships with the key stakeholders.

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