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Provide Transparency with an ITBM Service Costing Process

By Khalid Hakim

Last week I wrote about the growing need for IT to provide cost transparency to the business, especially to support its transition to a service provider or broker model. I also outlined some of the problems caused by opaque, decentralized costing strategies.

At VMware, we rely on an IT Business Management (ITBM) Service Costing Process (SCP) to help customers run IT like a business. Behind the acronyms lies a powerful tool that allows IT to validate its expenditures and solidify its role as a business leader. Here are four areas where our ITBM SCP solution helps address the challenges I outlined last week.

1. Service-based cost models
The ITBM SCP helps your organization establish a well-defined, repeatable, and consistent service-costing process with clear roles and responsibilities. This includes engaging the IT and finance teams to create and possibly mature your service-based cost model to encapsulate both technical and business services. Once developed, a service-based cost allocation strategy is signed off on by all involved departments to ensure standardization across the IT organization.

Using the SCP methodology also helps standardize how costs should be classified based on IT Financial Management (ITFM) and ITBM management principles, along with finance department policies. By implementing a full-service cost model, IT helps explain the cost of its services and deliverables, eliminates random cost allocation, and ensures more effective cost optimization efforts.

2. True cost transparency
An ITBM SCP approach encourages service-based cost models to be built in a collaborative way that provides IT with internal cost transparency which can be shared externally (with your executive and line of business stakeholders, and customers). A series of workshops help cost an end-to-end service using a number of use cases and alternative scenarios to come up with a service-specific cost structure that best fits your organization and business needs. This in turn helps avoid any over- or under-costed services. The SCP empowers service managers/owners to defend their numbers more confidently and helps shift IT’s image from “always expensive” to “always valuable.”

3. Value-driven approach
Our SCP methodology is supported by an Agile approach, which provides coverage to all IT services, along with more reliable data sources and processes. The iterative, phased approach delivers quick wins, ensuring that value is immediately recognized by all your stakeholders. This in turn helps you rebrand IT as a value creator rather than a cost center.

4. Improved ITBM maturity
The SCP solution targets service managers and owners (in addition to IT financial managers) via a series of knowledge transfers, educational workshops, and discussions to provide the background needed to manage IT as a business and optimize ITFM processes. It also raises the awareness of the finance team, since their view is typically limited to non-service management accounting. All together this helps elevate the investment planning process to a more service-oriented approach that drives higher IT and business value. Moreover, it helps define the success metrics required to sustain the SCP process and ensure strategy continuity.

In all these ways, the ITBM Service Costing Process can help your IT organization understand its costs, increase efficiency, identify areas of improvement, and provide the transparency necessary to help the business continue to see IT as a value creator.

Khalid Hakim is an operations architect with the VMware Operations Transformation global practice. You can follow him on Twitter @KhalidHakim47.