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IT Financial Management - Now is the Time

I've heard many excuses, during my years as an ITIL consultant, as to why a client did not want to start IT Financial Management -- the business is not ready, we don't have the tools, we don't know where to start, etc.

However, in these troubling economic times, it is imperative that IT adopts IT Financial Management in order to respond to the increasing pressure to reduce costs.

IT can reduce costs through service-based cost transparency and charge-backs. This method does not mean IT is a profit-center; it just means that IT is educating the business on the cost to provide the services.

With this knowledge, the business can adjust their consumption to better manage their budget and ensure spending is aligned with the value of the service they are receiving. Contrast this with a nebulous IT overhead charge which does not incent the business to use scarce IT resources wisely.

A Roadmap to IT Financial Management
The secret to successfully starting IT Financial Management is to develop a roadmap with increasing levels of maturity.

For example, in Phase 1, pick four to five key services for consumption based costing, e.g. number of servers, storage consumed, network bandwidth consumed, etc., then allocate the remaining costs (i.e. Service Desk, data center operations, etc) as a surcharge against this base price. In Phase 2 and subsequent phases, continue to expand the number of services covered by consumption-based charge-backs.

Another dimension of maturity is the approach to charge-backs. In Phase 1, you may want to just publish costs (i.e. cost transparency with no dollars changing hands). In Phase 2, you may want to provide invoices that show consumption and a hypothetical charge-back amount but stop short of consummating the transaction.

Finally, in Phase 3, implement the actual charge-backs. This gradual approach will allow the business to adapt and prepare for a new way of interacting with IT.

By establishing and communicating a roadmap, you can start IT Financial Management today and be better positioned to manage the IT budget.

About the author: Reg Lo is the VP of Technology Solutions at Third Sky Inc. He has over 14 years of IT consulting experience in ITSM/ITIL consulting, research compliance and healthcare, and custom solutions. He is a frequent speaker at itSMF and HDI events and a contributor to "The Forum", the offical newsletter of itSMF USA.