The Red Cross received more than $2 billion between September and December 2005, but it had to borrow funds while checks and credit card charges were pending. "They wouldn't have had to borrow any money if we had all been connected," Hankins says. "They could have borrowed it internally."
Currently Hankins runs Microsoft's Dynamics GP, Forecaster and Business Portal -- with customized key performance indicators -- so that real-time data is available across departments. Hankins saw direct results. "When it came to budgeting, I would personally spend for my two departments two weeks minimum," Hankins says. Now it takes him about four hours. His newest project is Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0, and Hankins' only complaint is that a "disaster environment" means project interruptions no one can predict. "But when I start something," he says, "I always make sure I'm around to finish it."
Ellen O'Brien, a former senior editor at CIO Decisions, is now a senior editor at Storage magazine. Write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.