This is the third blog post in our series discussing Asset Management and its importance in the modern enterprise. Our first post focused on Asset Management’s effect on Compliance and Auditing. Our second post explained how Asset Management plays a key role in the Financial success of your organization. Now, we turn our attention to the IT Organization, which has the pivotal responsibility of aligning the priorities of your Compliance and Finance departments to get buy-in for procuring new (or upgrading your existing) Asset Management software.
Misalignment between the IT department and these other teams is a common problem in many organizations, giving rise to a debate on how involved Compliance and Finance executives really need to be with IT. While all three departments share a common goal—to identify and implement opportunities for operational efficiencies throughout the organization that will reduce costs—they often seem to be working against each other.
You may be asking yourself, “If their goal is the same, why do many organizations experience a lack of alignment between Compliance, Finance, and IT?” The reality is that these departments are unique entities that work, speak, and think very differently from each other. In fact, they have very little in common, aside from sharing the goal of accomplishing more business objectives using fewer resources.
Aside from employee salaries and benefits, a company’s IT spend is usually the next biggest line item in the corporate budget. Unfortunately, finding a rational answer to the question, “Are we getting a good return on our IT investment?” is never easy, direct, or straightforward—even for the most experienced of IT executives. In this blog post, we will explore how the CIO, CTO, and IT Director can work together to secure the buy-in needed to procure new (or upgrading existing) Asset Management software within your organization.
What Does the CIO Do?
The Chief Information Officer (CIO) is responsible for managing an organization’s IT staff, as well as its IT-related assets like hardware and software. The CIO is a business technology leader who handles the strategic planning for your organization’s IT infrastructure and delegates the implementation of those plans to the CTO. Although the CIO may not fully understand how a new technology works, their role is essential because they have the capacity to understand what that technology can do and how it can impact the business. Consequently, an effective CIO can link the world of technology with product development and make crucial business decisions based on their unique knowledge and experience.
When your CIO is approached by Compliance and Finance executives, the conversation usually turns toward the value that their IT components represent. Compliance and Finance executives strive to understand (in concrete terms) how IT provides value through cost reductions, new revenue streams, growth opportunities, and compliance with internal and external policies. The credibility of your IT department is at stake if your CIO cannot answer the following basic questions:
- What assets are implemented throughout your organization?
- What Return on Investment (ROI) are those assets providing to your business?
- How can you increase the ROI?
- How are your asset investments performing relative to the competition?
- Do the assets that you manage (or should be managing) put the business at risk in any way?
- Are you aware of any persistent software defects that need to be tracked?
- Are there any cybersecurity threats that need to be addressed?
- Are those defects and threats being managed appropriately?
- How are you managing, mitigating, and eliminating the risks associated with your assets?
In most organizations, the CIO is responsible for fielding these types of questions and many more, but the answers may not be as clear as you might want (or expect) them to be. After all, how can the performance of IT assets be quantified? How can the CIO demonstrate the effective management of IT assets to Auditors? How can the CIO prove to Finance executives that the IT department provides a solid return on investment for the business? How can the CIO convey the message that their ROI is better than what competitors can do? The answers to these difficult questions become much easier to quantify and communicate when your company is using powerful IT Asset Management software.
How Can the CTO Help the CIO Achieve Your IT goals?
The job of the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) sits squarely between the CIO and the IT Director. The CTO helps implement all the strategies and plans that the CIO and other members of the executive team develop by evaluating and choosing the right technologies to improve existing products or develop new ones. The CTO ensures that a company’s technology strategy aligns with its corporate strategic goals and objectives by helping the IT Director manage their IT staff, help desk technicians, and senior engineers.
Armed with an engineering-level understanding of how technology works and where it is predicted to go in the future, the CTO is perfectly positioned to compare and evaluate the Asset Management software that is currently available, work with the IT Director to identify the best solution, and recommend a specific product to the CIO—who will present a business case to procure and implement the new system. After the business case has been accepted by senior management and the purchasing process has been completed, the CTO helps “push” the new technology down through the IT organization and its end-users.
How Does the IT Director Fit in the Asset Management Process?
Working under the direction of the CTO, the IT Director is tasked with coordinating and implementing the plans developed by the executive leadership team. The IT Director also handles the daily tasks associated with managing every IT asset including computers, routers, switches, hubs, and other components connected to your company’s network. Keeping your organization’s computer systems up and running is the IT Director’s primary responsibility and biggest concern.
While the IT Director may identify areas for improvement in the technology that your company uses and contributes as an influencer, they do not usually make the actual strategic planning decisions. The IT Director interacts with third-party vendors and Software as a Service (SaaS) providers to evaluate the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) of commercial products and makes recommendations to the CTO based on hard facts and in-depth research. In this role, they advocate for the needs of the business and ensures that the supporting business partners are aligned with the CIO/CTO asset management objectives.
The IT Director and CTO have different focuses, but both roles require the ability to collaborate effectively with cross-functional teams, negotiate with internal and external customers, and deliver presentations to select groups of people. The role of an IT Director can vary greatly depending on the size and structure of your organization, but they are typically responsible for:
- determining business requirements for new IT systems
- managing the design and implementation of your company’s IT infrastructure
- identifying, mitigating, and eliminating security risks
- providing a clear direction for your IT staff and, in some cases, overseeing your organization’s help desk team
By working together, the CIO, CTO, and IT Director can make a strong case to bring Asset Management software into your organization.
Making the Case to Bring Asset Management Software into Your Organization
Writing a business case for Asset Management software is a collaborative effort that begins with your IT Department, but your proposal becomes considerably stronger when you include relevant and credible information from the Compliance and Finance teams. One of the most common mistakes people make is composing a document that is too focused on the requirements of a single department (e.g., IT) without considering the implications that your purchase will have on other parts of your organization.
There are countless reasons why Asset Management software is critically important (and should be considered indispensable) to any organization. First and foremost, Asset Management touches on all aspects of an organization—anywhere from managing employees’ computers to corporate compliance and everything in between. Anything that has the potential to impact all aspects of an organization should be considered vitally important.
C-level executives should make it a point to get their Compliance and Finance counterparts to pay attention to the benefits of deploying powerful Asset Management software. Although those departments may not care to understand the technical details of the actual application, Finance executives are certainly concerned about saving money while Auditors worry about complying with legal and business requirements. SunView Software’s ChangeGear Asset Management software is well-positioned to trim considerable dollars off an organization’s annual IT costs, but lack of awareness among the small and medium-size enterprises are often major factors that slow or prevent the adoption of Asset Management software and services.
While the overall objective of writing a business case is to justify your investment in new Asset Management software, this exercise also sets the tone for kicking off a collaborative company-wide initiative and getting everyone working toward a common goal. Here are just a few tips to consider before beginning your journey:
- Make Asset Management software a high priority for everyone. Our previous blog posts explained how Asset Management software can equate to cost savings. Your next step is getting buy-in across your organization for an ongoing Asset Management program. It must be a top priority (and stay on top!) on everyone’s priority list in order to work.
- Schedule recurring meetings. The Compliance and Finance teams should be aware of what is happening in your IT department, and vice versa. Depending on the scope and expected duration of your Asset Management business case development project, you will need to decide on the frequency of your meetings. Some projects and teams work best having daily or weekly meetings, while others perform just fine with monthly or quarterly meetings. Make it a point to remind everyone why you are meeting, what actions are being taken, and be sure to leverage each other’s strengths to help accelerate your mutual goals.
- Consult with other departments. Proper alignment between the Compliance, Finance, and IT departments is an important step, but it is crucial that these departments work together to keep the rest of the organization in the same mindset and help your project stay on course. When the Compliance, Finance, and IT departments are given the chance to plan their strategies ahead of time, they have a greater opportunity to save money for the organization. Last-minute decisions end up costing more money for everyone. If you bring people in at the beginning of your project and keep them actively involved, writing an effective business case to bring Asset Management software into your organization becomes a truly collaborative process.
Implementing Asset Management in Your Organization
Implementing an effective Asset Management software system within your organization is a positive step toward lowering operational risk, improving compliance, and optimizing efficiency. A close and trustworthy connection between the Compliance, Finance, and IT departments is imperative to your mission. You can expect to hit a few speed bumps along the way, but getting these stakeholders involved early and working together with open lines of communication will help ensure your success.