Swap the Spreadsheets for an Automated View of IT Budgeting and Planning

IT financial management (ITFM) practices vary from company to company by timing, tactics, and templates. But you all share the same pain – you’re trying to manage ITFM in spreadsheets. You need something better, something that includes automation.

The manual spreadsheet solution is error-prone – it’s hard to make quick adjustments as business priorities change – and makes it almost impossible to adopt a monthly rolling forecast cadence.  And don’t forget the version control through email nightmare.

And, if you are following ITFM best practices, there are a lot of steps to keep track of. Spreadsheets don’t provide a good calendar view and they don’t alert you when a date is approaching that will require your team’s attention. Try our ITFM best practices calendar to help you keep track of the processes you need to execute every month.

Best Practices Calendar

IT Budgeting Calendar

ITFM requires IT finance teams to keep track of multiple processes. The best practice calendar may help with your scheduling—but you need a purpose-built ITFM solution to help you stop spreadsheet wrangling.

Accelerate the IT budgeting cycle

“Without Apptio , we’d be lost, we’d be overwhelmed, we’d be overworked – all of those things that we no longer are. Prior to using Apptio, the budget cycle was a second job to me,” says Stephanie Rendon, director of finance, IT, at Christus Health.

Like any IT finance leader buried in spreadsheets, Rendon was working nights and weekends to update budget spreadsheets and get the reports ready instead of doing analysis and having discussions that move the business forward. And even with all of that extra work, the IT budget was still a black box.

With Apptio IT Financial Management Foundation, spreadsheet wrangling is gone, and analysis  takes its place. Rendon says, “It’s not just the planning process. It’s also the forecasting – we’ve never been able to do that at a department level, never. Never.”

“We invested in Apptio for the huge time savings we knew we’d achieve. But it has also changed the conversations we’re having with the business and fostered better, more collaborative relationships with budget owners,” says Rendon.

Check out the full Christus Health case study and video.

Reduce IT budget padding to fund innovation

Speed is not the only need that can’t be met with spreadsheets. Padding and variance are vicious killers of innovation and a direct outcome of the mistrust IT cost center owners have for the spreadsheet budgeting process. They just can’t see all of details they need to make accurate budgeting decisions and they’re not sure if they will get a chance to make adjustments mid-year if their annual calculations are wrong. So, they pad the budget to ensure their projects and programs arrive intact at year’s end.

“When you look at your financials from a corporate finance perspective, the focus is on cost centers and GLs (general ledgers),” said Chris Warren, director, TBM Office, at Micron. “You can’t look at it from an IT perspective. You can’t associate costs to capabilities or to service delivery or the solutions that we have. And that is really the key to transforming our organization to be cost effective, to change our spend from a run focus, which is where IT has primarily been, to more of an innovation and build focus.”

Micron’s budget variances ranged from 20–30% per year. This chronic underspending meant Micron was missing out on business-enabling technology advancements. It hampers innovation. The introduction of Apptio changed all of that.

Apptio gives everyone a single version of the truth from which to make spending and forecasting decisions, and it saves business units from losing budget because they were unable to spend it.

“This year, because of more active management of that spend, we’re tracking to within 1% of our overall budget which, quite frankly, is unheard of in years past. This has a huge benefit, as we’re much more comfortable with what we’ve budgeted and what we’re actually going to spend,” says Warren.

Check out the full Micron case study and video.

Translate the strategic plan to the operational plan

Now we’re getting down to the biggest value of a purpose-built IT planning and analysis tool: facilitating conversations. Because of the accuracy and dependability of the data and the budgeting process, you can now go on to having more meaningful conversations about how IT contributes to the business goals.

“We are no longer being asked ‘do I have this budgeted?’ or ‘is this in there?’ Instead, budget managers are asking for clarification about the value they’re getting from services, the effect demand has on specific areas of the budget, and the impact of adjustments we can make throughout the year,” says Rendon.

With Apptio, IT leaders can translate the business strategy to an IT strategy and you can translate that to an operational plan with tactics that support the business strategy. Your operational plan captures line items that are specific to IT including vendor portfolio, labor, asset, project, and cloud spend. And you can now answer the hard questions with confidence.

First Citizens Bank’s IT organization was buried under a mountain of 320 spreadsheets. This meant that budgeting was relegated to an annual event and ad hoc requests for information took days or weeks.

“In today’s world, technology changes quickly,” said Wesley Cole, First Citizens TBM director.  “And you need to be able to respond very quickly from a financial standpoint. You need to understand your numbers. You need to understand how changes in technology are going to impact them both in current years and in future years.”

Apptio allows First Citizens to drill down for year-over-year comparisons, see what the trends are, and forecast for the current year and future years.

Now it’s your turn.

With this limited-time offer, you can see for yourself how a built-for-IT budgeting and planning tool enables a continuous, repeatable, and accurate IT financial management process. You’ll receive:

  • 6-month contract term (instead of 1 year)
  • Apptio Turnkey Admin Service and Jumpstart Services
  • 3-5% savings
  • 50-70% reduction in effort and response time

Get Started

Article Contents



Additional Resources