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The Argument for IT Planning Solutions that Brings you Out of the Grid

By Paul Bryan, Vice President - Products at Apptio

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Paul Bryan, Vice President - Products at Apptio

The need for more efficient and effective IT planning solutions is obvious. Look at any IT leader or CIOstruggling to manage millions of dollars of IT budgets and you’ll see why. But how urgent is the need to move beyond the spreadsheet?

Today, missed investment and efficiency opportunities account for more than 11 percent of total budgets, according to data from the Corporate Executive Board. Furthermore, data shows that for every IT budget dollar spent on technology, business partners spend an additional forty-seven cents procuring their own solutions.When you are working with hundreds of millions of dollars in IT budgets, this 11 percent is significant. But what causes these missed opportunities? Based on numerous discussions with IT leaders, I’ve observed three common causes of misallocated resources and in turn, three key reasons to move from spreadsheets to more robust business management solutions for IT:

  • Lack of visibility
  • Ability to quickly analyze and respond to changing conditions
  • Alignment with business priorities

First, we can see that CIOs, IT finance teams and budget owners need more detailed visibility into their resource investments in people, traditional and cloud-based vendor contracts. Trying to manage this detail in spreadsheets across numerous teams and geographies often generates an unwieldy set of disparate spreadsheets that are difficult to track down when needed. Version and quality control are a constant challenge to manage, leading to costly mistakes.

"IT finance teams and budget owners need more detailed visibility into their resource investments in people, traditional and cloud-based vendor contracts."    

Second, this unwieldy set of spreadsheets makes it extremely difficult to respond quickly when conditions change. An unexpected change in business or a new initiative requiring reallocation of resources generates many hours of wasted time chasing down the right versions of spreadsheets from different owners to analyze the budget impact and develop a viable solution.More than any other area of the company, IT has a myriad of cost drivers, operational data and metrics that tie to financial performance.The notion of forecasting on a monthly basis is out of reach due to the effort required to manage the spreadsheet process.

Third, and most importantly, the primary purpose of IT budgets are to support the business priorities. An unwieldy, disparate set of spreadsheets makes it very challenging for IT leaders to connect their spending plans to business needs and easily explain plans in this context. It is even more challenging to maintain that connection throughout the year as changes occur and to make adjustments in light of shifting business requirements.

Ultimately, IT planning solutions help IT departments and CIOs align their plans and budgets with business priorities and helps them be able to adjust rapidly to changing conditions. With a plethora of details and data sources to track, the spreadsheet just won’t do the trick anymore. What the industry and its IT leaders need are better solutions to help companies not only better manage their IT spend, but also put that money to greater use through enhanced planning capabilities.   

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