Mix IT Up

Mix IT Up

With most organisations still struggling to complete the recapture of control, few have so far found any truly useful ways to get a handle on their total IT expenditure and the value it returns them.

Who's Using What, When?

Consultant firm Deloitte has been using Survey IT Portfolio Manager on its 2800 seats since September 2001, in response to demands that IT management deliver more without spending more. The first priority was to determine precisely what hardware and software is distributed throughout the organisation.

Analysing its portfolio is allowing IT management to identify where high-cost applications such as MS PowerPoint and MS Project are installed and to determine whether they are actually being used; and to maintain its standard operating environment (SOE) by identifying versions of Internet Explorer and MS Outlook and tracking down non-sanctioned applications.

"If we've got stuff installed on people's machines that they're not using, we should be able to uninstall it and deploy the licences elsewhere," Deloitte CIO Tim Fleming says. "The best example was with Visio, where we had some hundreds of licences but we were finding that a lot of people were using it for one minute at a time. That meant that they obviously weren't creating Visio charts, they were just reading charts that other people had made, and there is a Visio reader which is a free product."

Fleming says discovering that a "large chunk of users" don't need the full product has already saved Deloitte around $50,000. Further savings are anticipated. "The portfolio management side of things is a continuous process. It's really about getting those processes and honing them and achieving efficiencies, so we're spending a lot of activity - probably for the next six months, I'd say - building up all these processes to the point that we can be monitoring the hardware and the software accurately.

"We would expect that we will get Survey [IT Portfolio Manager] to pay for itself in the first 12 months. A substantial chunk of it was already paid for by the time we bought the product, because of the pilot," Fleming says.

The software is also returning benefits via much tighter version control. For instance Deloitte found it had a large number of versions of Internet Explorer, with people upgrading their own versions from the Internet.

Straight Up to the Top

Organisations can maximise the benefits of a portfolio management approach by driving portfolio management model thinking through the entire IT organisation.

"Give every IT VP, director and manager a clear understanding of which portfolio the service or services they manage are part of and how to run them with a clear sense of how they fit into the big picture," Santana says. "My co-author and I make extensive use of this model in our book as a means of helping new managers to quickly find and maintain a clear link between their role and IT to corporate objective alignment strategy."

META Group agrees, saying best practice requires organisations to adopt a portfolio prioritisation process that involves the line of business (LOB) project sponsor, the CIO and the CFO (for risk review, budget approval, allocation and commitment). The process should be managed by an IT investment committee and chaired by the CFO. This committee should be charged with developing and implementing a responsible approach to achieving higher efficiency, without sub-optimising performance, by reviewing and proactively managing the IT asset portfolio.

"The IT investment committee should establish or approve the business rationale for IT investments, support the funding allocation and commit the investment dollars based on the accrual of quarterly objectives and milestones," according to META Group. "At any time, a single member of the triumvirate should suspend further commitment of investment dollars due to problems, changing economic climates, unmet milestones, poor quality deliverables or vendor delivery delays. This method of portfolio management and investment enables the group to ensure project success and aggressively respond to changing market conditions by adjusting plans and budgets."

While the Queensland Department of Main Roads accepts the conventional wisdom that the architecture should be business driven, it has learned from experience that the architecture's development need not necessarily address the business layer down through to the information, applications and infrastructure layer in that order.

"We tried that in 1998. We got a lot of information from the business, we had workshops across the state, and it didn't quite get us where we wanted it to, because architectures are fairly elusive things," Dann says. "So even though you shouldn't start with the IT layer, we've recognised that that was something tangible. We actually stopped work on architecting the business layer and went into the IT layer and we've actually got a recipe book now for the IT infrastructure layer.

Join the CIO Australia group on LinkedIn. The group is open to CIOs, IT Directors, COOs, CTOs and senior IT managers.

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

More about ABS AustraliaADVENTAustralian Bureau of StatisticsBrother International (Aust)Carnegie Mellon University AustraliaDepartment of DefenceDepartment of Main RoadsEmpiricalGartnerMellonMeta GroupNovadigmProvisionProvisionVIAVisio

Show Comments