From: Claire Bayliss, Director of IT consulting, Montal Computer Services
Sir – Over the last couple of years, many heads of IT have expressed consternation about the applicability and relevance of benchmarking data to their organisations, in particular the HouseMark benchmarks. HouseMark has responded to some of these concerns by adding a further set of questions devised by a group of heads of IT.
Much of the problem relates to how the current data is used. In the case of HouseMark, IT costs are collected as part of the analysis of corporate overheads and should really be viewed in that context. An above-average spend on IT may result in below-average total operating costs. And if that does happen, there is a potential double whammy waiting to hit the unsuspecting head of IT. If investment in IT reduces operating costs and also total staffing levels, not only will IT appear ‘expensive’ in terms of cash expenditure but it will also appear additionally expensive when viewed as a percentage of the now reduced operating costs and also on a cost per user basis.
However you benchmark, it important that IT costs are viewed in the context of other organisational performance data. And probably the best way of ensuring that the value of IT expenditure is understood by the business is to ensure that the return on investment for any major projects is captured and publicised.