IT Budgets Are About Investing in Your Mission

Larry Bonfante, Founder, CIO Bench Coach | 2/19/2013 | 27 comments

Larry Bonfante
Budgets are always a source of much conversation.

I remember years ago (what some CIOs refer to as the "good old days") when the size of your budget and your staff were considered yardsticks to measure your importance. Today, I could argue to some degree that the opposite is true. Success is measured more by effectiveness and efficiency.

The lower you can keep operational costs and headcount, the more you have available to fund the mission of the organization. It also means that you have more dollars available to fuel the innovation engine and experiment with new tools that can potentially be game-changers for your organization.

Whenever I present to my board of directors, I always review the financial state of the union. However, I always portray this in terms of investments, not costs. I am quick to share with them the value that the investments we've made in IT have had on both driving top-line revenue as well as lowering bottom-line costs. Ultimately, the issue isn't only how much you are investing in technology, but what are you investing in, and what return you are gleaning on that investment.

I am also always quick to point out to my board that we are investing approximately 50 percent of what is the norm for our industry vertical while getting excellent results for that investment. Putting things in context is a powerful tool in explaining and supporting your investment in technology.

I try very hard to find ways to lower the ongoing costs of providing operational services. We have been early adopters of Software as a Service (SaaS), public cloud computing and other innovative technologies. Necessity is the mother of invention. Being a not-for-profit organization, we often have to find innovative ways to get things done while keeping costs under control.

The money we save on IT operations is often invested into new technologies, such as mobile applications, business intelligence, and working to start to get our arms around big-data. These are the areas where we can leverage technology to drive business value.

Every dollar we save on IT operations is a dollar we can invest in putting racquets in kids' hands and working to build new stadiums to support the US Open. You see, we never forget that our mission is not technology. Our mission is growing tennis participation in the United States and ensuring that our fans have a world-class entertainment experience at our tournaments. And your mission, regardless of your industry, is also to serve your business function.

Ultimately, IT investment is no different from any other investment. It is an important part of the cost of doing business and needs to show a return that helps the organization accomplish its mission. Is this how you view your IT budget? What are you investing in? How do your stakeholders feel about how much and where you are spending the company's money?

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batye   IT Budgets Are About Investing in Your Mission   3/4/2013 9:58:01 AM
Re: Early investment
maybe you right, as adoption factors involve... and sometime they work forward sometimes backwards...
SaneIT   IT Budgets Are About Investing in Your Mission   3/4/2013 7:23:50 AM
Re: Early investment
I think 8-16 months is pretty optimistic as far as IAAS implementations go.  That's not to say that IAAS won't ever hit a growth spurt, i just see it being a longer term growth pattern.  I suspect that it will grow as small companies adopt IAAS then stick with their service provider as their companies grow.
batye   IT Budgets Are About Investing in Your Mission   3/3/2013 9:32:04 PM
Re: Early investment
I think you are right, not all market pieces in place for IAAS to pick up... - yet

maybe 8-16 months from now... - how I see it...
Damian Romano   IT Budgets Are About Investing in Your Mission   2/26/2013 7:48:07 AM
Re: Early investment
@SaneIT - 'Tis a dangerous thing to put all your eggs into one basket, so yeah. You hit the nail right on the head with that point.
SaneIT   IT Budgets Are About Investing in Your Mission   2/26/2013 7:35:59 AM
Re: Early investment
I think the IAAS market needs to get out ahead of these issues if they want to gain traction.  It's one thing to have people trust you with access to their vacation photos (SAAS) it's another to trust the underpinnings of your corporate data center to someone else.  I think this is why we're seeing so many hybrid solutions out there.  It's not that they don't trust IAAS it's that they don't trust IAAS for specific things.
Damian Romano   IT Budgets Are About Investing in Your Mission   2/25/2013 7:48:32 AM
Re: Early investment
@SaneIT - I think you're probably right. When it comes to deciding upon any "-as-a-service" provider you're measuring it against another set of issues whereby you come to your conclusions. It's a matter of trade-offs in the end; which issue is more important at the time. In many cases (as we've been talking about), which fiscal concern is the most pressing.
SaneIT   IT Budgets Are About Investing in Your Mission   2/25/2013 7:40:58 AM
Re: Early investment
I think we're still a decade away from a point where IAAS can pick up that kind of slack in a companies performance.  There are a lot of smaller pieces that need to fall into place before your typical business is that flexible.   How many companies out there have the bandwidth to move their infrastructure to the cloud?  Even the ones doing SAAS are feeling that pinch when they realize just how slow their connections are.
Damian Romano   IT Budgets Are About Investing in Your Mission   2/22/2013 9:54:06 AM
Re: Early investment
@SaneIT - That's a good point actually. Kind of sad that it happens to be the case. Makes you wonder if the IAAS will catch on more since a more customized budget process can offer more flexibility.
SaneIT   IT Budgets Are About Investing in Your Mission   2/22/2013 7:44:24 AM
Re: Early investment
Honestly I don't think that it will.  Companies will push more money toward hiring people that will hack through the hard times or push employees harder.  If you are in a budget crunch but you need to get a job done rather than pumping money into IT and waiting for a project to finish that will make processes faster the normal response is to hire some temps or part timers to hammer away then let them go once everything is caught up.
impactnow   IT Budgets Are About Investing in Your Mission   2/21/2013 2:57:54 PM
Re: holding steady vs. moving forward
Larry I agree its good advice for every functional area if you are viewed as a cost center not a revenue center the cuts are coming....
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