ITFM is an ongoing practice interspersed with intense—and let’s be honest—stressful annual budgeting or quarterly forecasting. Anyone in IT Finance agrees that during those intense times, it’s tough to do anything else ITFM-related. Not through lack of intent—it just doesn’t feel you have the time. Ironically, it’s during these crunch times that organizations have moments of clarity. Eyeballing a spreadsheet, late at night, trying to reconcile the numbers with a completely different spreadsheet is the time when many IT finance pros throw their hands up and say, “OK, enough. There has to be a better way to do this” That moment of clarity isn’t time stamped. When you need a purpose-built ITFM solution you just need it. But how do you convince others that now is the time? Here are six reasons why it’s never a wrong time for an ITFM solution.

#1 Break the shackles of spreadsheets

Is there ever a wrong time for freedom? Of course not. Your ITFM processes are drowning with the dead-weight of manually updated spreadsheets. You don’t schedule a time to stop drowning—you call for help now. Right now. IT finance analysts didn’t get into their profession to check (over and over) for spreadsheet errors—high-effort/low-value work is soul-destroying. ITFM isn’t about governance (ok, some of it is), it’s about fueling digital transformation with all the facets of the new IT operating model. Spreadsheets are getting in the way of that goal. Get rid of them.

#2 Plan with a natural view of IT

Many IT Finance teams layer IT context into their budgets and forecasts, but they lose that detail when it’s submitted to corporate finance. Which begs the question: why bother putting the context in the first place if it’s lost at corporate finance? IT financial management requires IT context. IT costs are a consequence of procurement and consumption choices—without IT context, those choices are completely detached from a general ledger (GL) or a cost center’s budget. An ITFM solution maps cost pool, IT products, vendors, and project data to IT spend. Monthly GL data is then automatically mapped to each category. No manipulation, no wrestling data: automation takes care of the low-value data mapping and frees up resources to execute an ITFM strategy.  
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#3 Start your cost optimization journey

The more you delay, the more you lose. Start today and reap the benefits of aligning IT spend to business demands.  Not changing the status quo is a missed opportunity to build a cost optimization foundation across the organization. Budget and cost center owners have a tough path through budgeting and forecasting when they are up against a headwind of poor version control. Even when the spreadsheet/email combo works, it’s a long shot on whether it’s timely. When the process fails to deliver on time, ITFM processes get bumped or cut completely. Failing to adopt a forecast cadence because of process restraints is a bad corner to be backed into.

#4 Start good habits, break bad ones

A plan to hold cost center owners accountable for spend, and promising them IT context to do so, means little if they don’t have the necessary tools. ITFM processes have relied on the dubious security and version control of spreadsheets and email. Nothing is further away from “purpose-built” than a folder in your Inbox with 7 different versions of one cost centers provisional budget (“No, not that one. That’s yesterday’s version. Didn’t you get my email this morning?”). The biggest issue with spreadsheets (and the reason why they are still so prevalent in IT Finance), is that given enough time you could make them work for IT. But you don’t have enough time—no-one does. Spreadsheets breed bad habits that, given a purpose-built ITFM solution, could disappear overnight.  Most bad ITFM practices (disparate data sources, poor version control, no IT context) are tied to spreadsheets. Lose the spreadsheets to lose the bad habits.  
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#5 Begin the begin

An ITFM solution isn’t about process improvements for the sake of them. Automation, IT-context, version control: all of these deliver headroom in your budget to fuel cost optimization. An IT budget is a finite thing. Using what you have, and maximizing its impact is the essence of cost optimization—reinvesting funds in line with business needs can’t be an ad-hoc endeavor. Some organizations initially run their current ITFM solution in parallel with a purpose-built solution. This draws out the deltas between the two approaches and highlights the areas where you will see the biggest improvements. It’s a shortcut to finding opportunities for process improvement.

#6 Cost optimization accelerates FP&A processes

Better analysis and cost optimization initiatives accelerate the planning and forecasting process. A push-back that says, “we are about to start annual planning, we can’t consider an ITFM solution,” misses that point that annual planning benefits from a focus on cost optimization. Taking your finite budget and expanding its influence with smarter budget allocations fuels the new IT operating model.

“Now” is the right time to implement an ITFM solution

In a survey of Apptio customers, before adopting Apptio IT Financial Management Foundation, the primary solution for IT budgeting and planning was spreadsheets (70%) followed in a distant second by homegrown custom solutions (6%). The pain points are familiar to any budget process owner (or cost center owner) drowning in linked tables and rampant VLOOKUPs. The benefit of deploying Apptio IT Financial Management Foundation is communicated in another survey of Apptio customers. Improved collaboration with key stakeholders (68%), reduced time and effort (61%), and a single source of truth (51%) paints a post-spreadsheet world of budgeting and forecasting that delivers strategic value rather than static governance. Apptio’s Financial Management solution allows IT Finance leaders to drive an ongoing spend optimization and planning process that regularly returns discretionary funds to the business and reduces financial risk through increased accountability and accuracy of the IT financial plan.