uGovernIT

A Practical Approach for IT Governance

Archive for January 2014

We are in the same boat

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As we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday today, we must not forget one of his quotes: “we may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.”  I was about to write a blog on how different backgrounds can influence our thinking as CIOs.  The old school taxonomy was to classify CIOs into two basic groups:  back-office who were focused on operational efficiency and cost, and front-office who were focused on innovation and helping IT provide the competitive edge to the Enterprise.  I felt we needed a more contemporary taxonomy for classifying CIOs.  The taxonomy I was proposing was based on the background where the CIOs come from.  If you imagine a three dimensional grid with one axis being business background, the other being technology background, and the third being the leadership skills.  As I was about to build the framework, I recalled the quote I cited earlier.  It does not matter what background we have come from, we CIOs have a challenge in delivering value under very tight scrutiny and even tighter budgets.  So in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., my taxonomy will have to wait.

Written by Subbu Murthy

January 20, 2014 at 8:07 am

Posted in IT Governance

The Value of Startups

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Southern California SIM chapter is hosting a fantastic event on January 23, 2014 from 3:30 PM to 8:30 PM at the Long Beach Marriott.  The topic is unusual and every important.  Startups! Companies are increasingly turning to startups to gain market advantage, increase agility, reduce costs and quickly address niche issues. UGovernIT, Inc is very proud to sponsor this event. As a CIO and also leading a start-up firm, I can see both sides of the coin.  CIOs tend to be risk averse and tend to go with the herd.  On the other hand, established firms who have taken advantage of the herd mentality have pocketed the maintenance fees paid by CIOs and not reinvested to improve the product.  Start-ups provide the check and balance.  I am proud to now to be heading up UGovernIT, Inc.  Although I will sorely miss being a CIO, the challenges and fun of running a start-up more than makes up for it.  In the IT management space, the industry has point solutions for managing user service requests, for managing projects and project portfolios, asset, resource and budget management.  These tools are very expensive for mid-market firms.  Besides acquiring the tools, CIOs have the challenge of integrating them to get a 360 degree of workloads, budgets and IT spend.  As a start-up, I was not constrained to follow the old approach.  Instead, we built a completely integrated solution from the ground up.  Ed Trainor, Past President of SIM summed it up nicely:  “Subbu and his team have a developed a good solution for helping Mid-Market CIOs run the IT department.  The tool provides the ability to manage the help desk, projects, project portfolios, assets, budgets and resources with dashboards and reports to manage the entire department.  I am pleased to be a part of his advisory team.”   Thank you Ed, and the scores of CIOs who have endorsed our product.

Written by Subbu Murthy

January 12, 2014 at 10:39 pm

Posted in IT Governance

The True Cost Of IT

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Costs are generally factored into decision making either in the form of financial metrics such as “Return On Investment” or “Time To Break Even”, or into analytic frameworks such as value per dollar expended. If you take a myopic view of costs, then it will simply be the “hard dollars” that are actually expended.  Generally, to account for total costs, many prefer to use life cycle costs.  These are also “hard dollars”, but they are added up over the life cycle of interest.

Of interest are the soft costs.  The soft costs are very rarely taken into account for many reasons:  1) They are difficult to quantify; 2) They are generally subjective and vary with the individuals making the estimates; and 3) They generally tend to tilt the decision in directions that do not appear to be popular.  Take for example, cloud computing.  It is clearly valuable to leverage the cloud technology as it generally entails minimal up-front costs and has built-in on-demand scalability, flexibility, and lower operating expenditures.  In itself, the cost savings may be very attractive. Organizations take for granted that cloud computing is cheaper than building an infrastructure.  But organizations fail to take into account soft costs.   If the organization is not careful, they may end up with multiple incompatible clouds. Disaster recovery, data warehouses all become concerns of enterprises about the resiliency of cloud computing, since data may be commingled and scattered around multiple servers and geographical areas.  It may be possible that the data for a specific point of time cannot be identified.  Cloud computing is still a viable and attractive solution, however, these additional costs tend to blur the cost advantages.  Staff morale and the loss of technical expertise are also other soft costs not taken into account. The message is simple – account for all costs in making a decision.

Written by Subbu Murthy

January 2, 2014 at 7:09 pm