Be All That You Can Be

By Gary Bolles  |  Posted 2003-09-01 Print this article Print

IT departments are trying to transform themselves into lean, mean, business-focused operations keen on delivering the best value for the lowest cost. Is it an impossible dream? Not if you take care to link optimization efforts with business goals.

Tight budgets are no excuse. You can optimize it without compromise.

Not Just Money

Optimization isnt just about cutting costs.

In the same way that IT executives whove lived through the Internet boom will one day reminisce about the time when the laws of gravity were temporarily repealed—"Grandpa, tell us the story about Unlimited IT Budgets again!"—so will they repeat tales about the whiplash effect of the bust: how the CIO went from swapping high-fives with the CEO to enduring pencil-level budget scrutiny by the CFO.

The general perception is that somewhere along the line, IT stopped delivering all the business value expected of it. "Our point of view is that IT is in fact pretty broken," says Ken Klein, chief operating officer at Mercury Interactive Corp., a provider of business technology optimization software. "Not all organizations fall into that category, but IT is, we believe, at a crisis point. Theyre in a situation where theyre being asked to do a lot more, and theyre being asked to do it with a lot less."

ITs response: optimize. Taffy-pulled by twin pressures, IT departments are trying to transform themselves into lean, mean, business-focused machines intent on delivering the best value for the lowest cost. That doesnt just mean squeezing every last drop of fiscal blood from the IT stone, through strategies like pooling servers, consolidating storage and packing WAN links to reduce bandwidth costs. It means reshaping IT by focusing on efficiently delivering the best possible value to the business—and doing it with the fewest costly people possible.

Garrett Grainger, CIO at Dixon Ticonderoga Co., an $88.6 million pencil manufacturer in Heathrow, Fla., says hes working with half the headcount he had when he joined the company five years ago. He also says his department is running at about 1.6 percent of corporate spending—less than half his competitors budgets. Yet even after trimming staff, hes been able to increase ITs service delivery by 20 to 25 percent.

How is such a thing possible? It turns out that optimizing IT doesnt mean simply burying your head in the budget with a paring knife. It requires a different frame of mind, instituting processes that stretch from the nuts and bolts of wringing extra packets out of existing WAN connections all the way up to the organizations strategic goals.

Ask Your It Staff:
  • How much has our service delivery increased or decreased over the past several years? Ask your CFO:
  • Whats ITs percentage of corporate spending over the past 10 years? Tell Your Staff:
  • Find out what ITs percentage of corporate spending is at our competitors—because we have to do better.

    Gary Bolles Gary A. Bolles is the Editorial Director for Ziff Davis Media's Custom Conference Group. He is responsible for directing the group's editorial efforts, ensuring the quality of the content it delivers, and moderating and speaking at client events. A frequent lecturer and keynote speaker on a variety of technology topics, he has hosted more than 50 events in the past year alone.

    Bolles was the founding Editor-in-Chief of Interactive Week, developing its unique vision, the founding editorial director of Sm@rt Reseller magazine, creating the publication from initial research, and the founding Editorial Director of Yahoo! Internet Life, managing its successful launch. Bolles was also the Editor-in-Chief of Network Computing Magazine, and for one year was the host of 'Working the Web' for TechTV, covering a wide variety of technology-related topics. Until recently, he was a contributing editor to CIO Insight, writing on a broad range of technology subjects, and assisting in the coordination of the publication's research efforts.

    Bolles is the former Chief Operating Officer of Evolve Software, Inc., and the former VP of Marketing for Network Products Corporation. He has served as a marketing consultant to a variety of organizations, and has advised a number of software startup companies in arenas such as online marketing and data mining.

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