Is This Mess Your IT Plan for 2020?
Is This Mess Your IT Plan for 2020?
Michelle, the CFO of OJus, a natural juice company, had grave concerns. In the company's lunchroom, packed during this first week of the new year, she scanned the crowd for the company's CIO, Max. His report on the "State of Technology at OJus," handed to her right before the holiday break, had haunted her mind during the vacation. The company was planning to expand its distribution in 2020 from eCommerce and natural food chains to retail grocery and big box stores. They were going to need an IT visionary, someone who could foresee their future needs and plan for them, and not merely the sort of person who "kept the lights on." Max's slim and vague report had given her doubts about his abilities."
At his seat in the lunchroom, Max kept his head down. From the corner of his eye, he could see the company's CFO heading toward him. He figured she wanted to ask him about the report he'd hastily thrown together before the holidays. Although he wanted nothing more than some "alone time" for checking the latest football scores, he quickly went through the answers he could give to the question he knew was coming: what specific software recommendations did he have for helping the company achieve its 2020 objectives and how much would it cost?
Sure enough, as soon as Michelle took a seat opposite Max, she put a piece of paper on the table between them. It was the overview diagram that he had placed in the Executive Summary of his IT report. To say it left much to the imagination was an understatement. "Do this for me, would you, Max? I’d like you to translate this drawing into an actionable plan to support our new 2020 corporate initiatives.
"What are your specific recommendations, and how much will these proposed changes cost us in the coming year?"
Wow, a complex multi-part question, Max thought to himself. But being the architect of the current systems, Max thought he had a few logical answers for Michelle that would get him back to finishing his lunch and checking on those football scores.
“Hi, Michelle, I’m so glad we’re having this chance to talk. I was looking forward to speaking with you regarding my recommendations and, of course, the cost justification for the company. I think the best place is to start is to group both existing and new projects into the following categories.
I.T. Cost Reductions – these are projects that will reduce our overall I.T. costs. My recommendations would include moving our IT infrastructure to the Cloud and building some integration between our ERP and our eCommerce platform to eliminate manual file transfers and General Ledger postings.
Productivity Improvements to Reduce Operating Costs – these projects will introduce changes in our business processes that will reduce our ongoing operating expenses. I recommend acquiring new software and procedures to streamline the processing of payables.
Strategic Investments – these are the projects that will support the company’s 2020 initiatives to enhance our competitiveness in the organic juice market by changing our product mix and introducing new distribution channels. A new warehouse system will allow us to store more inventory and to increase our fill rates to our customers. We’ll thereby increase the value of each sales order.
Mandatory Changes – these projects are not optional but are driven by new regulatory requirements, by lapsing software licensing agreements, and by our growing emphasis to increase data security. You may recall that we already started to introduce more sophisticated software to protect the company from viruses, ransomware, and hackers. Other software will be necessary to keep up with new government regulations.
Here, let me draw you a chart that shows how my recommended projects will benefit the company in terms of budget.”
Michelle’s tense expression eased as she read over Max’s outline. She could see he actually had a good grasp of the overall picture and just as firm a handle on specifics.
“Michelle, I know this is still just an overview, so let’s schedule some additional time and walk through the projects and their budgets,” Max said. “You’ll see how the projects that I have identified for 2020 will be great for the company and have a positive impact on your bottom line.”
Michelle and Max checked their calendars and bookmarked a future date to review each project in more detail. Michelle was so impressed that she thought about bringing the COO and other top line managers into the conversation. The process of justifying IT expenditures had always been a mystery at Ojus, but this approach was rather simple and easy to understand.
Max breathed a sigh of relief as Michelle walked off and took his cell phone out again so he could check those football scores.
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