Friday, March 14, 2008

Postcards from IT Financial Management Association Meeting

I am writing this on my way back from a speaking engagement at the IT Financial Management Association’s meeting in Austin TX where I discussed some new metrics and perspectives for measuring costs in shared IT infrastructures from Cassatt's perspective.

The ITFMA is an undiscovered gem-of-a-conference *if* you’re on the finance side of the house supporting IT. Heavy on the analysis, discussion and interaction, and light on the vendor pitches (unless you’re IBM). With between 200-300 attendees, this could be one of the last ‘hard-core’ conferences for IT (financial) professionals. In my talk, only a handful of folks in the audience described themselves as technical – all others were in the controllers/CFO office. And this was substantiated by looking at the attendees list.

The 4 day conference was broken down into four tracks: IT financial management for controllers/CFOs, IT asset management, IT performance management and benchmarking, and Government IT financial management.

For the first time it was clear to me how technology was only part of the challenge for enterprises – managing the business, cost-accounting, asset-management, compliance, etc. is just as much of a burden. To that end, there were a number of recurring themes that kept re-surfacing, even for the one day I was present:

  • ITIL and ITSM (IT Service Management): process is a big deal, especially to the bean counters. While most think ITIL handles technical processes like config. Management, it’s just as applicable to service and financial management.
  • CBDBs – especially as they related to asset tracking and working capital
  • Chargebacks – lots of conversation about these, but I bet only ½ to 1/3 of attendee companies actually do this
  • True costs of IT – a major recurring theme. How cost is computed, allocated, and controlled.
  • Change management – many agreed that change management is the largest cost sink-hole around. Controlling and tracking changes – especially unplanned changes – is the largest headache IT financial managers face
To the last point, a book called The Visible OPs(available via the IT Process Institute) was heralded as a great way to look at IT financial operations through the eyes of ITIL.

From a speaker perspective, there was a really healthy ratio of "end user" war stories: Steve Rossi, the CFO from the state of North Carolina; Arlan Holmes, the deputy CIO from the state of Missouri; Daniel Elvera, the director of IT Finance from First Data; Patricia Harceg, AVP from Wachovia; and dozens more.

The next ITFMA meeting is June 2-6 in Riverside CA - with another down-n-dirty agenda including more on ITIL and chargebacks.

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