The Right Tools Make All the Difference

BLOG: Technology business management is something the CFO should learn about.

TOPICS: technology

I recently did a feature for Computerworld on start-ups that are aiming to ease IT’s pain. Apptio, which developed a software-as-a-service for technology business management (TBM), was among the companies featured.

The TBM Solution Suite gathers various data surrounding IT, such as the cost and usage of labor, hardware, software, power and cooling. It uses the data to do analytics, budgeting, forecasting and what-if scenarios.

As I point out in my article, Starbucks started using the TBM, and discovered that the laptops it had deployed to cut desktop expenses were actually costing more -- because of battery replacements and support issues. Armed with that information, the company was able to change its warranties and develop desk strategies to extract the savings it initially had anticipated.

The TBM Solution Suite is the kind of tool that would help fuel the dynamics between IT and finance. That’s because the data generated can be modeled so it is relevant to each group. For instance, finance probably doesn’t need to know the CPUs necessary to support a new marketing project. But it would want to know the cost of the servers that housed those processors and the estimated utility expenses for powering and cooling the servers. There would also be great interest in what portion of the current data center footprint the new equipment will consume to understand how close the organization is to capacity.

In the past, IT would have had to do all those calculations for finance and oftentimes they were “guesstimates” or finance would have had to figure it out on their own. Removing all that legwork lets both teams get to decision making that much faster. For instance, they might determine the marketing project needs to be reworked because finance doesn’t want to push the data center to capacity and to have to find funding for an expansion. IT might argue to move ahead because they could virtualize other servers throughout the data center and gain that space back. Both teams would be able to have such an insightful, intelligent debate because they have access to the same accurate pool of data.

As we proceed with this blog, look for me to highlight other products and services either on the market or in development that will help finance and IT communicate better.