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Beancounters: Friend or Foe?
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Beancounters: Friend or Foe?

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Check out these slides from a SpiceWorld London SpiceHead on how he goes about his purchasing strategy, including: …

Check out these slides from a SpiceWorld London SpiceHead on how he goes about his purchasing strategy, including:

- Budget planning; how to use an IT Strategy; using 1, 2 & 5 year plans to manage the finances.
- How to persuade the bean counters to open their wallets by showing them that you can be trusted to manage your own finances.
- Business case justification; you know it makes sense, but they don’t talk tech, so you still have to show them why in terms of pounds and pence.
- Applying for grants; treating other people’s money like your own.
- The art of negotiation; when and why to say no; and how to politely say, “that’s not what I can afford to pay.”

More in: Technology , Business
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  • 1. Beancounters: Friend or Foe? Finance & IT A Sutcliffe Consultant, APS-IT (Former IT Manager for several SME operations) (a.k.a Bottman)
  • 2. Common beliefs • “… setting a budget means you are forced to overspend most of the time and are likely unable to leverage strategic opportunity at others…” • “The CFO just wants to stop me spending money and doesn’t care what problems this causes the IT department ” • “… finance people don’t understand technology, so why should they control what we do?” • “I seem to spend a lot time trying to justify spending small amounts of money, when other departments seem to spend what they like” • “Our FD knows the price of everything and the value of nothing”
  • 3. The Reality •  Most companies are not “IT businesses”; and IT is about delivering a service to the rest of the organisation, not about the technology •  The Business Strategy has to take precedence over IT Strategy •  Different departments should actually have the same goals (really!) •  Finance have a lot of pressure on them to make the books balance •  Budgets will always be limited; the trick is to do the most with what you have
  • 4. The Reality • If the business people don’t understand the importance of the technology • you probably haven’t explained it in terms that they can understand • If you can’t explain it to them satisfactorily, you should ask if you really understand the significance of what you are proposing • It’s not their role to understand; it’s your job to explain
  • 5. IT Strategy •  How to use an IT Strategy (you do have one, right?) •  If you don’t have a clear destination, how will you know when you reach it? •  The IT Strategy should indicate how IT will help the business achieve the business goals •  This requires understanding what each department plans to do •  It should be updated each year •  Although the master document should be detailed, there should also be bullet points that fit on a single A4 sheet of paper
  • 6. IT Strategy •  To achieve this, you have to talk to the various departments •  You have to know what is going on in the business in the next few years •  You need to know what the various departments are planning •  You have to understand what pressures they are facing
  • 7. IT Strategy • Detail of Strategy • Break down by appropriate sections, departments, technology • Then use this to create a bullet point summary to issue to Senior Mangers
  • 8. IT Strategy • Example of bullet point summary • For 2015 • Replace 20 PCs & 5 printers • Replace 3 laptops (Sales dept.) • Obtain 10 new licences for MS Office suite • Renew the company’s Mobile phone contract • Review the backup processes; either renew existing software or replace • Replace drives on Server • Conduct training on product XXX • Replacement of 4 damaged telephone handsets (Logistics)
  • 9. IT Budget • Create a budget plan • Show previous years’ expenditure to justify repeat figures • Include any project details • Use a logical separation • Consider using colours like to show key items • Know the difference between Capital Expenditure (CapEx) and Operational Expenditure (OpEx)
  • 10. IT Budget •  Use actual expenditure to create a forecast • Some costs will be repeated (OpEX) • Some costs will be one-offs (CapEx) or projects • Don’t forget to allow for over spend
  • 11. IT Budget •  Use 1, 2 & 5 year plans to manage the finances • You have to plan for next year •  But it makes no sense to spend money next year, only to replace that same technology the year after • You can’t predict what challenges you face more than 5 years from now
  • 12. Show Me The Money! • Persuade the head Bean Counter that you • Can be trusted to plan • Know how to accurately forecast expenditure • Will be careful how you spend the money • Will treat it as your own! •  They will then open their wallets!
  • 13. Business Case Justification • Pounds and pence • Business leaders don’t talk “Tech” – there is no point in trying to explain things this way • Cash benefits make more sense to them • They need to know •  What it will cost •  What it will save
  • 14. Management priorities • All managers have the same 3 goals • To increase sales • To cut costs • To improve profit margins •  That includes IT Managers!
  • 15. The art of negotiation • Be honest and upfront • Don’t be afraid to say “That’s not what I can afford to pay” • Haggle every time • Be flexible over key details • It’s not always about the costs; some times, you can get extra value • Make use of quarterly / annual sales quotas to get the best deal
  • 16. Thank you for your attention!