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As an internal supplier, IT typically cannot sell services and capacity to other customers outside of the parent organization. Should the internal customer expect any less consistent service delivery or quality Should internal IT provide less than adequate capacity to assure consistent service delivery or consistent quality Should customers now be expected to pay for waste and inefficient operations Should customers now expect unlimited capacity and unlimited services for free NO to all these questions! The best practice CIO changes IT s ability to work more closely with its internal customers to meet the company s overall strategic objectives. In other words, provide immediate IT business value and implement those IT-enabled solutions on a stable architecture supported by mature processes (see 3). When part of the same enterprise, IT and its customers are more closely yoked together and should be driving to a common fortune. As a consequence of Enron and other accountancy-related trials, financial transparency is now a common battle cry. What does this mean to IT and its internal customers First, what it does not mean is a dump of every possible bit of information on the customers desks. What it does mean is providing accurate and appropriate information relevant to strategic decision making and backed up with additional detail if desired. Together with a foundation of sound internal financial management, this is the financial transparency internal IT customers seek. Financial transparency should enable (1) self-regulation to adjust and fine-tune behavior and (2) strategic operational choices. Financial transparency does not mean computing figures four, eight, or twelve digits to the right of the decimal point. Financial transparency that enables greater enterprise-wide maturity means providing figures that are relevant and accurate for the decisions being made whether measuring the value delivered to IT s customers or guiding IT s own maturation process. In an internal IT environment, billing internal customers for services is a separate consideration from knowing and sharing the cost of services rendered. An actual billing for services is a choice, not a requirement. However, knowing and communicating the cost of services is essential for the CIO and the IT organization because it contributes to forming and fine-tuning strategy and optimizing operational resources. For internal customers, it helps them make appropriate choices concerning the mix and quantities of services they consume. Without understanding the cost of a service, customers naturally want the Cadillac version. Knowing the cost
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chapter 4
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the sum of it can be greater than its parts
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enables them to choose the service level adequate to their actual needs. The bottom line is that reports to internal customers give the CIO and the IT organization an opportunity to communicate in clear business terms with transparency to cost elements.
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Traditional financial tools crafted generations ago provide little help for IT Finance to play a strategic role. Limited to these tools, IT Finance cannot identify the strategic symphonic themes IT needs to play, let alone participate in the performance. Fortunately, new tools have become available. Activity-Based Cost and Management (ABC/M) is a recently developed set of methodologies and tools that provide management analysis to aid in decision making. Cost is a direct result of operating decisions, and therefore a measure of performance. Rising or declining costs are symptoms of resource decisions and utilization. ABC/M is primarily a symptom diagnostic tool that provides cost information for more strategic management decisions. Coupling cost with other strategic performance metrics results in a complete picture of operating results and value. This complete picture provides the decision illumination that management needs. Before describing how ABC/M assists IT decision making, familiarity with a few ABC/M basics immediately suggests how this tool is superior to traditional methods. If you are already familiar with ABC/M, please read the next section anyway and look for the nuances of its application to the IT environment. First, there are a couple of things that ABC/M is not. ABC/M is not a transaction recording tool like more familiar financial transaction instruments such as Accounts Payable, Asset tracking, and the General Ledger. As an analytical tool, ABC/M uses summarized information provided by these transactional tools to provide decision grade information for management decisions. ABC/M is not the General Ledger (GL). The GL has other important purposes in the custodial role of finance that center on external reporting and internal controls. It has its own highly controlled environment with many rules governed by external reporting and tax requirements. Because it is optimized for external and tax reporting purposes, the GL is not optimized for internal analysis and reporting. For this reason, it is difficult, if
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