What Can IT Leaders Learn From Chefs?

NPR’s The Salt recently had a blog post that discussed how—more than recipes and cooking techniques—chefs can teach us to be better organized. The principles of culinary organization referenced in the blog post are known as mise-en-place, which entails gathering and arranging the tools needed for cooking. 

What is mise-en-place?

According to NPR, some cooks call mise-en-place their religion. “It helps them coordinate vast amounts of labor and material, and transforms the lives of its practitioners thorough focus and self-discipline.”

It is interesting to consider what IT leaders can learn from chefs, especially as it applies to managing the business of IT.

How can mise-en-place be applied to managing the business of IT?

Just as a chef has all the ingredients in place before cooking a meal, CIOs benefit from better organization of the essential ingredients they need to make decisions and drive initiatives. Accurate and actionable data is the essential ingredient to managing the business of IT. 

Like a chef reaching for a certain knife stored in a specific place, IT leaders need ready access to detailed financial data to help them make better decisions faster and to drive more productive conversations with business unit partners.

For example, when an IT leader gets asked about budget variances, they need instant access to current IT costs, accurately broken down into granular detail that exposes spend to plan for individual technologies, applications, and services. When a CIO is meeting with business unit (BU) leaders, they need quick access to information about application costs, and how those are apportioned to BUs according to consumption. And when making decisions such as rationalizing multiple overlapping applications, IT leaders need cost information to inform those decisions while they’re being made, not after-the-fact.

It’s not enough to do this cost analysis on demand. These conversations and decisions take place constantly in IT, and when each depends on one-off analysis, decisions get delayed and conversations get sidetracked. Just as a chef does not wait until the middle of dinner service to butcher their proteins, neither can IT leaders afford to wait on cost analytics.

Mise-en-place when applied to managing the business of IT means instant access to insightful data through an organized, repeatable process on an ongoing basis.

TBM helps IT leaders apply mise-en-place principles

Technology Business Management (TBM) provides an order and a rigor to IT infrastructure and cost analysis. Relying on transparency, TBM defines a foundation for managing the supply and demand of IT by enabling financial and performance trade-offs. 

But TBM practices are not enough, just as a chef’s knowledge of cooking techniques and flavor combinations is not enough. IT leaders need a system that can automate TBM analytics so that financial information is always available, just as a chef depends on mise-en-place to run their kitchen.

Apptio's suite of TBM applications integrates and analyzes data from as few as a handful, to as many as hundreds, of different sources of financial, operational, and billing data. Starting with cost data extracted from the general ledger, Apptio maps costs into common IT categories. Then, Apptio uses operational and billing data to drive sophisticated allocations that apportion costs to applications, services and business unit consumers. The result is a granular, defensible view of IT costs, visualized in a self-service analytics layer that allows non-technical users to explore data on the fly. 

Only a specialized platform built specifically for this purpose can successfully unify such disparate data and calculate the cost analytics needed by modern IT leaders. Apptio helps you apply TBM while ensuring ongoing access to relevant insights. 

Apptio’s TBM solution enables IT leaders to:

  • Understand and benchmark your IT costs
  • Know your application and service costs
  • Show your costs by business units
  • Analyze cost, quality, and utilization for efficiency
  • Automate planning and forecasting

Like a chef’s need for ingredients and having organizational systems in place, IT leaders rely on Apptio TBM to supply the right information at the right time, so they can run the business of IT. 

Interested in applying mise-en-place principles to your IT organization through TBM? 

Download this white paper to see how Apptio can help you standardize a functional view of IT costs to create your own organized, repeatable process for collecting accurate and actionable data.