Proving the value of IT is the most difficult side of this
equation since technology becomes commoditized almost as
quickly as it’s installed. Many companies do capitalize on technology to give them a strategic advantage in the marketplace,
but that advantage often dissipates as their rivals adopt the
same technology, rendering IT merely a cost of doing business.
Hence, the plumbing analogy.
But information technology can create efficiencies and
reduce operating costs, and that is where IT professionals can
become heroes in the eyes of their business compatriots. The
key is to present business executives with a strategic vision
for IT without bogging them down with technical details.
Unfortunately, that often proves more difficult than shooting
an eagle on the back nine.
Based on my 20-plus years in IT management, I’ve gathered some low-hanging fruit that’s worked well for me—and
should work for you too.
greatest impact on the bottom line. Through standardization,
you reduce costs by minimizing complexity and buying software and hardware in bulk. And standardization often produces greater operational efficiencies, since maintenance and
training are more easily executed.
Executives don’t need to know the logic behind strategic I T
issues such as standardization. What they do need and want to
know is that a technology initiative will improve performance
and lessen the burden on the corporate balance sheets.
Troon Golf began its standardization efforts in 2001, and
about 65 of our operating facilities now work within the set
standards. For those properties, we’ve been able to leverage a
support team of just four technicians. Contrast that with the 20
facilities that don’t work with our standards, each of which has
its own I T support person or team. The leverage in standardization is roughly one-fifth the human resources required.
Software license management is
a challenge that plagues nearly
every enterprise. Most companies either use expired/unlicensed
software (out of compliance) or
are over-subscribed (more licenses
than are needed). Neither position is good, since expired licenses
expose a company to fines for
using unlicensed software, and
over-subscribed licensing means
that a company is paying for software it isn’t using.
The first key to strategically managing software licensing is to ensure that you have a solid
system in place for procurement, deployment,
license tracking and compliance management.
Second, make sure that you, or someone on your
team, is experienced in reading software license
agreements, so that you can assess the appropriate number of licenses and decide whether
software maintenance programs are in your
company’s best interests.
An interesting statistic that I often tout is
that 100 percent of the operating facilities for
which Troon Golf has taken over management
have had a software licensing issue. You heard
me correctly: Every operating facility that we
have taken over either has used unlicensed soft-
ware or has been over-subscribed. The good news is that we
have implemented a solid software license management process—including procurement, deployment and compliance
management—to ensure that all our properties are minimizing
expenses and risks.
Almost all software has an annual fee to cover technical
support, patches and enhancements for that application, but
not all software maintenance programs are required. If maintenance is an option, make sure you understand the alternatives, as there may be a more financially suitable solution for
Let’s start with total cost of
ownership (TCO) for computer
hardware. Most non-IT executives view hardware as a one-time
capital expense, and they fail to
understand the necessity and the
benefits of a strategic replacement
program. The hidden costs of powering, operating and maintaining a
piece of hardware often outstrips
the purchase price. For example,
according to some studies, the
cost of powering a storage server is three times
the purchase price over the life of the device.
Maintenance and operating costs increase dramatically after a device has exceeded its planned
life expectancy—usually three years. By demonstrating how technology costs increase over time if
an organization doesn’t retire and replace devices,
IT professionals stand a better chance of gaining
support for a strategic replacement program.
In the late ’90s, before Troon Golf introduced
a strategic technology refresh plan, our facilities
spent an average of $800 per month on support.
Eight years and one hardware refresh plan later,
the monthly average support is down to $300—a
saving of roughly $50,000. Throw in cost savings
from increased user productivity, less downtime
and reduced data loss, and you’ll realize that TCO can be optimized through a planned refresh strategy.
Standardize, standardize, standardize. I can’t use this word
enough in front of executives. Most of them see standardization as a way to make IT jobs easier. That’s partly true: The
more standardized the technical environment is, the easier
management becomes. That means fewer tools and human
resources are required, which results in lower costs.
However, in my opinion, standardization can have its