By Colum Donahue, co-founder and CEO of Genuity
Alignment of team goals and operations is more difficult than ever, with a growing number of teams including employees in multiple offices, as well as virtual office arrangements and off-site contractors. This siloed workforce makes it especially difficult for companies to coordinate their IT goals and spending.
Other than sales, IT departments often have the most varied talent and workplace environments. To tie everything together, companies are buying more software as a service, or SaaS, subscriptions. Without a centralized tech stack, however, those solutions are disparate between different departments — and more expensive.
This lack of coordination makes it much harder for IT and finance leaders to know what they’re actually spending in aggregate. With departmental collaboration, however, you can accurately assess which technologies you need to move forward and bring about real transformation.
As co-founder and CEO of a company that empowers businesses with technology, I’ve seen the disconnect between IT and finance firsthand. From an IT perspective, it’s an uphill battle when the department is expected to do more with less. On the other hand, finance can see IT as a cost center.
When these departments are so divided, innovation can stagnate. That’s why my company follows a policy of transparency, collaboration and sharing data to make informed decisions.
In today’s digital age, every company, regardless of size or industry, is technology-driven. Teams need to come together around a common language where technology is a differentiator and an enabler of business growth.
Collaboration is key.
If your teams lack collaboration, your business suffers. When employees leave, for instance, their software licenses can become “ghosts.” It’s surprisingly easy — and common — for companies to unknowingly pay for hundreds of these unused ghost subscriptions every month.
One of our clients, for instance, found it had 284 active software licenses with the same vendor, despite having only 80 current employees. It was paying for 204 unnecessary licenses because different departments didn’t communicate the changes.
Another costly issue is the “renewal bug.” This happens when IT cancels a technology contract but doesn’t let finance know. Finance then pays the invoice for the auto-renewal, even though the technology is no longer needed. Depending on the size of the contract, this seemingly minor mistake can lead to massive extra costs.
The cooperation necessary to catch these issues is even more difficult due to the segregation of each department’s IT solutions. Accounting might use DocuSign, for instance, while sales uses Adobe Sign. The cost for both tools is high and completely unnecessary.
The seemingly simple solution to these problems is building a collaborative relationship between your teams — especially finance and IT.
Invest in IT.
IT and technology management costs are hard to quantify. When you implement a new IT solution, things are only measurable when they go wrong. And things will go wrong, which can cause the finance department to view IT as a cost center.
The problem with a siloed approach to IT is that every modern business has to be a tech company — or it won’t be able to adapt. Simply look at the 52% of Fortune 500 companies that have disappeared from the list since 2000, as reported by Harvard Business Review.
Bridge the gap.
Data is king in most modern businesses. It gives your teams the ability to make informed decisions, allowing the company to adapt to changing markets. These three strategies can help you leverage data to bring your teams together and make your business more sustainable:
1. Develop a TBM framework.
Technology business management, or TBM, relieves some pressure from the finance department by operating the IT department as a business. Present TBM as a framework for data management to gain vital buy-in from company stakeholders. Decide who will be involved, where the company’s data will be stored and how each team can obtain that data.
2. Illustrate the value of IT.
TBM makes data more readily available for all departments, allowing everyone to see the value of IT. It also helps IT and finance align budgets and resources to strategically plan and manage business priorities.
Within this alignment, change the conversation from “We’re just spending money” to “We’re effectively managing what we’re doing.” Leverage existing investments into actionable business information. Maximize value, and demonstrate cost-effectiveness for the services that IT provides.
3. Share the data wealth.
Once your TBM efforts are underway, there will be plenty of metrics and data points that every department can use. Identify key data outcomes that benefit the whole company, and then develop disciplined approaches to reach them. Remember that collaboration only works when data sharing is transparent between all teams.
To achieve success in the modern business climate, bring together IT, finance and company decision-makers. The collaboration between teams can help you successfully transform your business model to stay agile in the ever-changing business landscape.
Colum Donahue is the co-founder and CEO of Genuity, a Chicago-based company that empowers businesses with technology.
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