Solving Tech Problems Without IT

Susan Nunziata, Director of Editorial | 8/9/2013 | 74 comments

Susan Nunziata
If you're doubting that the relationship between the business and IT sides of the enterprise has changed forever, a recent technology deployment at McAfee is likely to put to rest any lingering uncertainty.

We all know McAfee as a major vendor of security solutions. The company has almost 7,000 employees and operations in 130 countries. Brian Bayless, VP GTM Finance, is responsible for financial oversight of McAfee's enterprise business division, which accounts for about half the company's revenues, according to a prepared statement. He had to find a solution that would get the division's 1,500 sales people off spreadsheets and separate databases and onto a single, worldwide model for managing quotas and sales compensation.

"We were spread across 10s of spreadsheets and more than 40 databases," Bayless told Enterprise Efficiency in an interview. "We're calculating payments across 70 different roles, in five theaters, with a million-plus line items. You blow up traditional database and spreadsheet capabilities pretty quickly with that."

For example, Bayless said, "We'd have a database for rep attainments in North America for Q1. If I wanted to look at every quarter for the past three years, that's 12 databases."

In addition to the sales reps, he said there were anywhere from 30 to 50 people in finance at any given time who were working with the existing spreadsheets and databases. Added Bayless:

    It was impossible to turn around analytics. It was impossible to turn around reporting in any reasonable period of time. People were doing a really good job ensuring we were paying accurately, I just wasn't sure we had analytics in place to make sure we were paying the right amounts to the right people based on right-sizing that region.

Bayless said that what he was looking to accomplish fell into what might be considered "soft" metrics. "I was trying to improve sales rep productivity. Having each rep spend five hours a month with a spreadsheet isn't productive. These were softer measurements, it's not a true revenue-generating, topline-building project."

Yet, after nine months of searching for a solution, Bayless said that all he could find were three or four vendors offering big implementations that would involve millions of dollars in capital expenditures and nearly millions of dollars in ongoing maintenance.

When Bayless finally found Anaplan, a cloud-based platform, his finance team worked with an Anaplan Solutions Architect to design, build, and test the new solution within a few weeks with no IT support.

That's right: No IT support.

"I was able to put the development and building in the users hands The business users know how to use it. It's not something I'm translating IT and then having them build for us," said Bayless.

Bayless noted that the business side's relationship with IT has changed over the past few years:

A couple of years ago, our relationship with IT was challenging. We would search for a solution for something, and we would go to IT with expectations that they would deliver a solution. But IT operates in same budget-constrained environment that we do. They're under as many, or more, budget constraints than we have. It was unfair to expect them to be able to find the budget to deliver everything that the business needs, when the business needs it.

The relationship with IT quickly went from 'We need this' to 'Here's a tool that, as long as it fits into your architecture vision and you are good from a security standpoint, we will actually develop what we need to use as long as you enable us to use the tool when we can.' It's become much more of a partnership.

The Anaplan solution itself has proven itself out, according to Baylesss:

We are doing territory planning, quarter modeling, commission calculation. We're able to do future forecasting and capacity planning, which use that same type of data. We're now able to build those things out using same tools and the same data source. Reports that used to be impossible to get across DBs and spreadsheets are possible. Calculations that used to take 24 hours or more to run now take less than a couple of hours. Instead of doing commissions on a weekly or monthly basis, I can now do it on a daily basis. I can analyze it at quarter end on a multiple-times-per-day basis. What we've basically gotten to is a real-time commission visibility model.

For Bayless, though, the biggest soft ROI gain is reducing the time that reps spend working with commissions data or order data. "The amount of time they spend crawling through spreadsheets or crawling through order data is three- to four-times reduced. It doesn't go to zero, but it's down from 10s of hours per quarter to single digit hours per quarter."

Another bonus is that sales teams have now started coming to Bayless with ideas on how to use the exact same data to do forward-looking forecasting and planning. "If we're successful in that, we've got a lot more potential inside of McAfee to unlock a lot of value," said Bayless.

What do you think about business users taking tech matters like this into their own hands? Are they doing IT a favor by solving a departmental problem without demanding your time and budget? Or are you worried that they're becoming so empowered that they'll be tempted to cut IT out of the mix altogether?

Related posts:

View Comments: Newest First | Oldest First | Threaded View
<<   <   Page 2 / 8   >   >>
Qasim Bajwa   Solving Tech Problems Without IT   8/16/2013 3:42:23 AM
Re: Re : Solving Tech Problems Without IT
@Salik, That's a very valid point raised, Students realizing that even 'Technical electives' can prove useful once they start to move up in their career. And to support the case i'm talking about Business students. And yes your second point about mastering more than one skill set is valid as well, infact the entire discussion is revolving around this central idea. Last week i was listening to a Radio show @E2, about 'qualities of a CIO' and they were more than just a few, they were alot. You learn more as your progress in your career but it can give u an edge right from the start if you stay motivated and accept the challenge.

Salik   Solving Tech Problems Without IT   8/16/2013 3:35:51 AM
Re: IT Department as a tool
@Qasim, the time once gone is lost forever. We need to make the most of it, and to seek the decisions at the time of need is what the situation demands rather than waiting for 3rd Party to help. Internal development is encouraged here, as well as external, but not at the cost of so much time.
Salik   Solving Tech Problems Without IT   8/16/2013 3:28:49 AM
Re: Re : Solving Tech Problems Without IT
@Qasim, thats an excellent point made related to something about everything, some basic education needs to be taught to the students from the upper management regarding the importance of such subjects at the industry level. I can see the revolution coming though, with the industrial practices and acceptance of students with more than one skill (business, technical, peoples), this layman attitude will change. The question is when will the students take this challenge, some do already.
Qasim Bajwa   Solving Tech Problems Without IT   8/15/2013 5:52:51 AM
Re: IT Department as a tool
@Salik, right so HR could have played a better role in all this? that's an interesting point which was previously missing out.

Though i think the second major issue was the lack of 'communication' between Brian's team and the IT  team. We usually discuss our tech related issues and hold ups with other teams mosly on tea or at lunch, unless things get out of hand and we have to disclose to other departments for fresh ideas, but that's just our way of informal communication but it proves to be really helpful everytime.
Qasim Bajwa   Solving Tech Problems Without IT   8/15/2013 5:46:55 AM
Re: IT Department as a tool
@Salik, No doubt there. However i still can't take my mind of from the fact that it was IT's job to save the day not 3rd party. 

Every organization opts for 3rd party solutions, but not after almost a year of waiting. If they were having difficulties with managing database it means they were seeing the problem back then was the right time for Brian & IT to make a right decision, initiate in-house development for the solution or search for 3rd party solutions. In the current competitive market its a great loss to wait for almost a year and keep staring at the problem. 
Salik   Solving Tech Problems Without IT   8/15/2013 3:56:55 AM
Re: IT Department as a tool
Of course Brian is for that matter or maybe the HR who recruited the IT team. Who knows the IT was not that competitive or if it was the lack of confidence in Brian to trust the IT team, what demoralizing that is.
Marif   Solving Tech Problems Without IT   8/15/2013 3:54:56 AM
Re: IT Department as a tool
@stotheco: That totally depends on the issue they are facing, if the issue had occurred previously and they know how to resolve it in a quick, than they should do it yourself. Otherwise calling a tech for help is a good practice as spending time to resolve the issue which is not known should not be encouraged. Even if the user resolves the issue after doing some research, it may have taken a support person much less time to do the same. What I recommend that people should sit with their support person to try to learn the resolution process of simple issues so that I can help you in future as well.
Salik   Solving Tech Problems Without IT   8/15/2013 3:53:17 AM
Re: IT Department as a tool
Moreover Qasim, the decisions taken at once though carry risks but are the most rewarding ones. I see that the money loss incurred into taking a decision of purchase, would have doubled or tripled over the nine months tenure he waited for his struggle to come to frution. However, I do seem to learn one lesson from this that is ones struggle pays off sooner or later. 
Qasim Bajwa   Solving Tech Problems Without IT   8/15/2013 3:47:43 AM
Re: IT Department as a tool
Salik i think everyone recruited for the job has the basic technical knowledge but somehow still they prefer calling the IT-desk for help, why is that?

Good choice of words ' Computer dominted society' I think everyone being recruited in the company should once pass a Basic Technical Debugging test. Which should include all these trivial questions and basic computer IN's and Out's.

The way i deal with these issues. 
If you can't fix it on your own, ask someone next to you and if they can't help you 'google it' I've noticed that someone else in another region has usually faced the same problems, you always find answers
Qasim Bajwa   Solving Tech Problems Without IT   8/15/2013 3:41:44 AM
Re: Re : Solving Tech Problems Without IT
@Salik, I think this is also true for IT students taking up elective Business courses. But yes since IT students are technically more sound, they pick up the pace on business courses easily.

Business Students when taught anything technical or IT related do not really grab the concept OR they are taught at a very basic level OR the students are rather not interested to accept the course over their regular courses

I'd say its more on the students than the teaching level. Students are often not interested and yes its really worrying to see them lose interest when it will actually help them progress in the future, everyone should know something about everything, At C-level meetings ofcourse the CMO should know and understand what the CIO is talking about and vice versa.
<<   <   Page 2 / 8   >   >>

The blogs and comments posted on do not reflect the views of TechWeb,, or its sponsors., TechWeb, and its sponsors do not assume responsibility for any comments, claims, or opinions made by authors and bloggers. They are no substitute for your own research and should not be relied upon for trading or any other purpose.

More Blogs from Susan Nunziata
Susan Nunziata   5/28/2014   111 comments
For more than four years, (E2) has been the best IT community on the Internet. As with all good things, soon our time together here will end.
Susan Nunziata   5/20/2014   95 comments
Is it time to ask for a raise? If you're a female IT executive, or more than 55 years old, your answer might well be a resounding "Yes!" Let's take a look at highlights of the ...
Susan Nunziata   4/14/2014   15 comments
If you're looking for more than conjecture to back up the point that IT is increasingly crucial to the business, you'll find what you need in the report "The Gartner CEO and Senior ...
Susan Nunziata   4/7/2014   3 comments
Do you know what your CEO really wants from your IT team? Do you have a grasp of what matters most to your organization's chief marketing officer?
Susan Nunziata   4/1/2014   9 comments
There are plenty of challenges involved in leading an IT organization in the era of Bring Your Own Everything (BYOE), but there are also plenty of opportunities.
Latest Blogs
Larry Bonfante   4/9/2014   10 comments
When every capital expenditure is put under a microscope, it's harder than ever to continue to make the necessary investments in refreshing the technology our companies need to compete in ...
Brien Posey   3/4/2014   5 comments
Right now there seems to be a mild sense of anxiety among healthcare providers regarding the impending deadline to make the transition to ICD-10 coding. Not only are there operational ...
Michael Hugos   2/19/2014   21 comments
If you are a CIO who wants to ensure your place in the organization, a good place to start is with the CMO. That is because the CMO is most likely the C-suite executive under the most ...
Brian Moore   2/10/2014   56 comments
Ease of use matters when you are slaying dragons.
Brien Posey   1/7/2014   22 comments
If 2013 was the year of BYOD (bring-your-own-device), then 2014 could easily be the year of CYOD.