Proven IT ROI strategies in an economic downturn

CIOs who calculate ROI on IT projects are more likely to get executive approval, especially in an economic downturn. Learn how to effectively calculate ROI on new investments in BPM, ITSM and enterprise risk management.

It's essential in an economic downturn for CIOs to calculate ROI for new projects and initiatives. IT ROI calculations

allow CIOs to better plan, budget and forecast for technology projects that will affect the business.

Learn how some experts and CIOs are able to successfully calculate ROI for investments in new software and initiatives such as business process management (BPM), IT Service Management (ITSM) and enterprise risk management.

  BPM ROI  

Enterprise organizations should assess smaller projects and can realize ROI in three or fewer months when implementing business process management software, experts and users say. And that could be a boon to CIOs seeking ways to increase efficiencies across the business during this recession.

"People start off doing BPM to solve some big problem -- don't start there," said Derek Miers, founder of BPM Focus, an organization that explores the impact of BPM software on business strategy.

Miers advises CIOs to find something that is self-contained and small in scope. "You can succeed at a small project [with which] you can deliver value and do quickly, like in six to 10 weeks," Miers said. "The business will go, 'Wow, can we have some more of that?'"

That's exactly what happened at Level 3 Communications LLC, which went from a small BPM project in 2006 to a system today where even business users can use the business process management tool to improve a process.

   Learn more about BPM software and how to find fast ROI on smaller projects.

  SaaS ERP ROI  

The Software as a Service (SaaS) model is quickly gaining acceptance for some enterprise applications (notably customer relationship management), but it's been slow to gain traction in ERP. Until now, that is.

For years, SaaS has been popular with small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), where vendors such as Intaact Corp. and NetSuite Inc. have been more successfully addressing simpler computing needs and environments than traditional enterprise vendors. Many SMB CIOs have moved their mission-critical apps to SaaS models to reap the benefits of no up-front costs, no licensing fees and rapid, easy deployment. Now large-enterprise CIOs are following suit.

"The ability to adopt on-demand services on a pay-as-you-go basis is a perfect sourcing strategy for businesses seeking greater cost controls and flexibility," said Jeff Kaplan, founder of ThinkStrategies Inc., a Wellesley, Mass.-based SaaS consulting firm. SaaS ERP software for the enterprise is taking shape, with demonstrable, sustainable ROI and compliance benefits as a result of its scalability, broad-based applicability, easily adaptable technologies and reduced operating overhead.

   Find out how SaaS ERP software can deliver ROI, compliance for the enterprise.

  Return on enterprise risk management  

In its recent report "A Risk Hierarchy for Enterprise and IT Risk Managers," Gartner Inc. advises enterprise and IT managers to abandon a "narrow, 'siloed' approach to risk assessment and management [in favor of] an overarching risk framework to address the entire enterprise, and ensure that staff members at all levels clearly understand their risk-related responsibilities."

Easier said than done, of course.

As discussed in SearchCompliance.com's "Risk management compliance holdouts get wake-up call," many enterprise business and IT leaders now recognize the importance of taking a holistic, top-down approach to risk management. However, most enterprise risk management (ERM) deployments are still in the vapor or paper stage. In this article, we'll get practical and delve into the guts of ERM, discuss challenges and potential paybacks, and provide some best practices for making it work.

A good example to start with is Southern Company (Southernco), which has been practicing ERM for about five years. As a large, investor-owned electric utility, "maintaining a low risk profile is integral to the company's strategy" both for serving customers and for satisfying regulators and investors, said Todd Perkins, the company's enterprise risk management director.

   Read the full tip on how to unearth the potential paybacks of enterprise risk management.

  ITSM SaaS application ROI  

With two years down and one to go in his quest to create a culture in which IT is like a service to the business, Unitus Community Credit Union CIO Brian Irvine has turned the company's IT business processes into a commodity coveted by other business units. How? By shaking things up in the IT department and proving out the ROI of a SaaS service desk application, after another SaaS project stalled due to too much customization.

The heart of Irvine's strategy was to turn the service desk and IT into a business unit akin to sales or human resources, where technology services could be delivered as easily as payroll direct-depositing a check in an employee's bank account.

But to get there, Irvine had to replace an outdated service desk ticketing system and make organizational changes in the IT department, shifting people around and changing the mentality of the staff to a service-oriented one. At the same time, IT started to revamp its change management and business improvement request process for its core Jack Henry Episys banking transactional system.

Now in year three, the initiative has replaced the old Numara Software Inc. Track-It help desk ticketing system with Service-now.com, a SaaS vendor of IT Service Management software. Simultaneously, IT has been able to get the company's employee lifecycle access management processes, or hire to retire policies, under control using the new SaaS service desk. Not an easy task considering the core Episys platform alone has 1,100 permission groups.

   Learn more in "SaaS service desk application turns IT into BPM guru with strong ROI."

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