While this may seem like an odd topic for IT leaders who have spent their career in large enterprise organizations, it is quite common in smaller to medium size companies for the Chief Financial Officer to be a key decision maker actively involved in managing the organization’s IT function. Service desk cost savings are too huge to ignore! Convincing a CFO to investment in an IT service desk function requires a different approach than if the decision maker were a CIO with an IT background
As an ITSM professional, it may be tempting to immediately dive into a discussion about the virtues of ITIL, the pivotal role of the service desk in orchestrating incident management/provisioning and emphasizing value that a service desk function provides to the IT organization. After all, that’s what our ITSM training taught us, right? Unfortunately, most CFOs don’t share your passion about IT and many will decide that the answer is ‘no’ before you get through the first few sentences of your pitch.
Most CFOs view IT as a cost centre – a necessary overhead function that the company needs but not something that drives strategic differentiation in the marketplace. With this mindset, the tendency will be for the CFO to perceive the proposal for an IT service desk as just another overhead cost in an area where they want to trim the budget, not invest more. To overcome this perception, you need to re-position the IT service desk proposal around things that the CFO sees as strategic to the company and things he/she personally cares about (hint: most of them involve money).
- Growing revenue – the more revenue the company can bring in, the more resources the CFO has to work with.
- Controlling operational costs – overhead costs cut into the profitability of the company and limit the CFOs options for making strategic investments and returning value to shareholders/owners.
- Improving business productivity – sometimes the problem (and solution) isn’t cutting costs, it’s getting more value out of the resources the company has.
- Risk and compliance – the CFO is a key player in the company’s governance process and process consistency is a powerful tool in demonstrating regulatory compliance and managing risk.
- Maximizing ROI on the company’s investments – the company has a lot of choices on where to invest resources but each investment has an opportunity cost. The CFO’s goal is to maximize the value from the overall portfolio – optimization is the big picture.
By understanding what the CFO cares about, we can see that an IT service desk proposal needs to be framed in the context of benefits to the company as a whole -not just the benefits to the IT function. 3 key points to be included while highlighting your IT service desk cost savings:
- The IT service desk can improve business productivity by shifting low-value activities away from high cost resources across the organization. Your company hires bright employees, give them modern technology to work with and pay them well – but some of the activities they are expected to do (such as fixing technical issues, resolving data issues and managing requests for access to resources) could be shifted to lower cost resources at an IT service desk. The result would be freeing up those employees to spend more time on the high-value activities that they were hired for.
- An IT service desk can help the company lower operational costs by streamlining repetitive processes and leveraging economies of scale. In small to medium size organizations, it is common for departments to develop internal processes for provisioning resources, managing approvals and resolving issues because there is a perception that there isn’t enough demand for these activities to warrant someone focusing on them full-time.Implementing an IT service desk provides an opportunity to bring the disparate processes together, leverage economies of scale (in the form of service desk staffing) and have a set of refined processes that efficiently address the organization’s needs. You can use this ROI calculator to calculate your IT service desk cost savings.
- Service Desks are a proven model and recognized operational best practice. Companies have been using models to emulate service desk cost savings and improve the performance of their IT, HR, Sales and Customer Service functions for decades with demonstrated results in the areas of process consistency, cost avoidance and employee productivity. The use of industry standard processes and modern cloud based tools can make the start-up process quick to enable your company to begin reaping the benefits.
It isn’t just about benefits to IT – investing in an IT service desk is about making an investment in improving the productivity of the whole company. With that productivity comes the opportunities for lowering operational costs and enabling your high-value human resources to spend more time focusing on the strategic activities that will help your company succeed. Now that is an argument to get your CFO’s attention!