Tech budget troubles? Prioritize with business units – CIO Dive

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With a 20 person IT staff to support 3,000 employees, resources are tight and there’s not room for waste at The New York Foundling. Tying every technical effort back to the organization’s mission enables digital transformation, according to CIO Arik Hill. 

“We did achieve more and we continue to achieve more through the empowering of a collaborative effort,” Hill said. The New York Foundling provides support to children, young people, adults and families, such as mental health services and foster care, to help them reach their full potential.  

IT operates strategically as an equal partner or stakeholder in the drive to digital business less than half of the time and business units outside of IT control 26% of the IT spend, according to the Flexera 2021 State of IT Tech Spend Report.

There’s a disconnect between where IT departments spend their budgets and their goals each year, according to Cyndi Tackett, VP of Product Marketing at Flexera. Managing constrained resources relies on collaboration and agility across business units to balance keeping the lights on with investing in innovative solutions.

“IT has a really hard time describing the return on investment that they get for every dollar spent,” said Tackett. In tandem, these factors perpetuate existing silos and make it even harder for IT departments to make the most of their budgets. 

Understanding exactly how much businesses spend on technologies such as on-premise, SaaS, IaaS or PaaS becomes very difficult, said Tackett. “IT leaders are really struggling to get complete visibility of their spend as their environments become more complex and hybrid.”

Breaking down spend and business silos can help an organization better align its budget for the most impact. 

IT spend and business unit outcomes

While The New York Foundling received support from organizations such as Microsoft Tech for Social Impact to help establish technical foundations, Hill also manages expectations across business units on what’s possible with the organization’s limited resources. 

Once a month, Hill meets with senior executives to understand their mission priorities and show how the IT department can execute them. 

“We show them, in an interactive dashboard, the stack of all of their requests and initiatives,” said Hill. “Then, we work through that in terms of aligning with what their needs are — and that can change on a monthly basis.”

By first understanding stakeholder insights, the IT department can then help the business unit access the right tech tools. But it all goes back to building a culture that breaks through the silos. 

“You need an established culture that values innovation,” Hill said. “You have to think about the person first before the technology.”

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