The fast track to IT cost transparency with Berkley Technology Services

When you have multiple business units operating in multiple countries, maximizing IT investments becomes very important. This was true for W. R. Berkley Corporation. To realize economies of scale, the corporation turned to its centralized Berkley Technology Services (BTS) group to streamline IT functions and vendor management processes. 

BTS Vice President of Finance Jeremy Bullock and BTS Controller Kyle Sellner viewed this challenge through the lens of experience: providing centralized IT for 50+ operating units potentially meant opening 50+ channels for complaints about the lack of clarity and transparency around IT cost allocations.

Bullock and Sellner knew transitioning the conversation from costs to value would be key. They needed to provide transparency to their business units if they were going to be successful. Implementing technology business management (TBM) and Apptio Cost Transparency helped BTS communicate IT costs at a granular level, and explain how specific services contributed to driving the expenses in each business. Best of all, they were able to fast-track the process to get up and running in 12 weeks. Here’s their story:

The challenge

Sellner explained the triangular challenge BTS faced. “BTS is a standalone company, but at the same time we’re still the IT department of a larger organization—W. R. Berkley Corporation. So we have three pressures: one is controlling what we spend on IT and making sure we spend that money wisely. The second is ensuring every dollar we do spend is fairly and accurately allocated out to the 50+ operating units we service; at the end of the year our expenses and our income have to balance. The final and the largest driver is customer satisfaction. We need to provide accurate, understandable and transparent allocations to all of our operating units.”

Before TBM, we offered little visibility into what we were spending. We couldn’t break down what we charged and [the businesses] definitely had no insight into what they were getting for their money.    Kyle SellnerBTS Controller

Before Apptio, each operating unit received a one-and-a-halfpage spreadsheet, formatted as an invoice but lacking significant detail. “Let’s say we had a million-dollar invoice for an operating unit. They would have seen that million dollars broken down into at most five categories, but nothing any more detailed than that,” said Sellner.

The solution

In early 2015, Bullock, Sellner, and a W.R. Berkley Corporation EVP met with Apptio representatives and spent the better part of the day reviewing what other customers were doing with TBM, viewing product demos, and looking at a sandbox. “It didn’t take us a lot of talk to decide to pull the trigger,” Bullock said.

The results were quick, and immediately satisfying.

We joined in various workshops and took the 12-week jumpstart fast track route with Apptio. We were able to get the model built out and get the language installed in the company enough that we could do our 2016 budget in Apptio, and we’ve been basically live since the first day of 2016.Jeremy BullockBTS Vice President of Finance

How have those 50+ operating units responded? “I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback.” Bullock said. “Some of our operating units respond to their invoices with ‘This new information is awesome; I can see I’m spending this much on desktop, this much on data center, this much on policy underwriting systems.’”

BTS has enabled better cost identification, more optimized spend, and clearer communication of costs and allocations to the operating units by leveraging Apptio and TBM. Download the full case study for tips and tricks for starting your TBM transformation.

For best practices on how to communicate IT’s business value by creating transparency into IT costs, download the executive brief: 6 best practices for communicating the business value of IT.