A Fool with a Tool will Squander Precious IT Budget Dollars


It’s that time of year where health club utilization starts to taper off.  All those New Year’s resolutions to get back in shape drive a spike in new memberships in January but by Valentine’s Day it’s pretty clear that there’s more to getting in shape than belonging to a nice gym.

Such is the case with IT tools and utilities.  IT orgs lay out big bucks for them thinking they’re going to give them the operational equivalent of six-pack abs but far too many end up under-utilized, or worse, as shelf-ware. However, unlike that Soloflex downstairs that you only use for hanging your laundry, underutilized IT tools are more than just embarrassing; they’re wasting precious money and stealing business value from your enterprise.

Just like those exercise DVDs peddled on late night TV, it’s hard not to give into temptation and buy the latest IT tool thinking it’s going to give you the IT version of a beach bod.  It’s easy to make that purchase; it’s quite another to get out there every day and sweat to the oldies.  It’s the same with operational utilities and the sales people know this and work it.  With annual maintenance renewals and upgrades, it’s the gift that keeps on giving … for them.

When it comes to fitness it’s not the gym membership by itself that get you into shape – it starts with a commitment to working out.  The gym membership simply makes it easier, more efficient and more effective.  Rocky Balboa had a regimen: getting up before dawn, knocking back a dozen raw eggs and running up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.  Sure, he also trained with equipment, but it was his desire, commitment and planning for his training that made him successful.

It’s the same thing with IT tools.  Process and operational discipline must precede or come concurrently with the use of a utility for it to truly take hold and change your operational results.  Tools and automation are a critical component of IT service excellence but they’re supportive to a healthy operational lifestyle.  By themselves, without the appropriate process integration, they’re not the answer.

In these days of tightening budgets and ever expanding business expectations it’s never been more critical to effectively manage the IT budget.  Having a tools strategy for each operations function will go a long way to minimize a lot of waste and lost value.

A basic tools strategy is not rocket science to develop and maintain.  Start with an inventory along with the purpose of each tool and the extent they’re utilized.  Compare this to your operational objectives.   You can then see the redundancy or the opportunities to get rid of what’s not used or needed, make efforts to better adopt what’s under-utilized, and then, and only then, smartly acquire new tools to fill gaps.  Update the tools strategy annually – ideally in advance of the budget planning cycle – to ensure maximum value.  Incorporate tools adoption into your team goals and performance management objectives to better ensure they take hold.

Challenge yourself and your teams to prove the value being generated by the investment in tools.  Tell the story effectively so that they don’t see it as a threat.  Create an atmosphere where your staff sees this as part of the team’s commitment to deliver business value through smart investment of limited resources.

Don’t let your organization fall victim to shelf-ware.  IT tools are only as effective as the people and processes that surround them.