This blog was originally written by Jonathan Jones, Principal Consultant at DXC Technology on September 12, 2017. You can read the original blog post here.
Implemented effectively, with insight and deep understanding, Technology Business Management (TBM) is a powerful means for the CIO to change the perception of IT from serving the business to growing the business.
Although TBM is becoming widely accepted as a more effective way to run IT – and the tools make inefficiencies patently clear to both the CIO and other business leaders – it’s how the data is interpreted and subsequent actions taken that deliver the real value.
In a previous post, The CIO becomes CEO of your technology business, I covered some of the symptoms that indicate the need for a TBM approach – as well as the drivers for implementing it.
Here are some practical tips for the CIO to optimise beyond TBM tools, and enable transformative change.
Identify and prioritise your initiatives
Cost transparency reveals a plethora of opportunities for optimisation – but they all can’t happen at once. Identification of initiatives must be followed by prioritisation based on a number of factors.
Initiatives that would result in huge dollar savings may seem an obvious choice to be at the top of this list. However, there are other considerations when prioritising such as alignment with business strategy and reliance on organisational change. Business needs and your priorities for optimising IT will change over time – so you will need to remain flexible by regularly reassessing the order of your ‘to do’ list.
Align with your key strategic objectives
The most valuable optimisation initiatives will be those that are directly aligned with your organisation’s strategy. It is often more than just a dollar saving. For example, the saving of $1M in IT costs may seem boring to the business as a whole – but ‘freeing’ $1M by retiring a rarely used legacy system to create a new online presence, opening up new markets and boosting revenue will demonstrate solid business outcomes. This in turn creates new opportunities and secures a more favourable future for the organisation.
Communicating your plans in terms of contributions to the stated strategic directions of the organisation will go a long way to getting your employees on board, and to successful implementation. The ‘whys’ and ‘whats’ you propose must relate to specific business goals.
The more aligned your initiatives, the more recognition your subsequent success will get – easing the process of approval for others. Don’t talk about the underlying plumbing, talk about the house. Attention and visibility are key to gaining support and acceptance for current and future IT optimisation projects.
Make it possible to action change
While some initiatives may seem ‘no-brainers,’ they often can’t get off the ground due to valid reasons from functional managers – such as already committed budgets and responsibilities for other projects from which they can’t afford to divert their time or resources.
HPE Enterprise Services (which joined with CSC to become DXC in 2017) implemented TBM very successfully across the organisation, by finding, identifying and eliminating redundant/underutilised systems. This activity amounted to cost savings of around US$330M over three years. This may seem like a big number, but it was comprised of many different, smaller projects such as a network rationalisation which cost US$1M, but led to a saving of US$6M.
One of the key reasons for success was empowerment of the TBM Office. The TBM Office had its own dedicated funding and the authority to proactively drive optimisation activities. While the optimisation programs would ultimately be delivered by IT, the TBM Office was unconstrained by the typical budget and resource limitations of the IT department. The end result was a reliable stream of optimisation savings.
For TBM to be successful in achieving concrete savings and better align IT with the rest of the business, consider how you can best remove all the little roadblocks to making a desirable change.
Cultural change is essential – on both sides
Changing IT from a cost centre to a true business partner is an exercise in cultural change. For members of the ITO, it’s about no longer seeing themselves as a separate silo. One of my clients recently said to me that, “You need to educate them to think about the business, not just IT.”
For the business, it can be the realisation that they actually control IT costs more than they know. HPE Enterprise Services issued personalised ‘bills of IT’ along with tips on how to reduce costs. This was based on the idea that a ‘free good’ is often over-consumed because the opportunity costs are not well understood. Seeing the consequences of their choices allows individuals to take responsibility for changing their behaviours.
In one example, a manager who was tethering his smartphone to his laptop when travelling was costing the organisation thousands of dollars a month. Once alerted to the actual costs, he started using hotel wifi services instead. While this seems obvious, understanding the dollar impact ultimately changed that manager’s behaviour.
Alter the mindsets
Organisational change must embed a mindset within the ITO that recognises the value of optimising IT. An excellent way to visualise IT savings, and increase their perceived value, is to measure them in terms of revenue. If your organisation’s margin is usually around 10%, then every dollar you save via IT optimisation is equivalent to $10 of earned revenue. The business can relate to this sort of tangible illustration, and applying such a multiplier will help the ITO team feel they’re positively contributing to the overall success of the business.
Once you are in the execution phase, you will find yourself having a feast of initiatives. Each initiative may see some quick wins but information and the situation will change over time – so your priorities must too. You will be responsible for a range of ‘moving parts,’ so a static spreadsheet is not sufficient. Ongoing stakeholder analysis and engagement will be necessary to keep on top of everything.
As you progress, collect robust evidence of your achievements and align them to the common goals of the organisation. This will maintain clarity and help avoid skepticism within the ITO and the organisation as a whole. Know exactly where you are throughout the journey: keep it real, in real time, to maintain the momentum.
TBM is more than just a tool
If there is one thing we have learned about TBM, it’s that getting value depends on what you put around the tool itself: strategy, effective cultural change and responsive agility.
The steps I have discussed above can get you moving in the right direction. Freeing up capital buried in ‘serving the business’ can make it available for investment in the new technologies for digital transformation that will improve your position against competitors.
Of course, the basis of your digital strategy is knowing where that investment should go and planning your journey. Here too, TBM becomes an enabler. By applying the economics of digital transformation to understanding its cost impact, you are going to be able to drive this transformation to deliver the expected return and benefits.
Jonathan Jones is a principal consultant at DXC Technology and product manager for the Technology Business Management (TBM) offering. His 15 years of industry experience include consulting and developing new offerings in IT cost management. He has extensive experience in helping clients optimise and transform their businesses through the power of TBM and Telecommunications Expense Management.