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Can BTM cut costs?

If you've got 930 IT projects and a CEO who wants them done yesterday, who you gonna' call? Some CIOs are dialing up a management framework called BTM.

CIO Jean Holley knows about life before she had best practices for governance in place -- and life afterward. It took 12 months, not too much money and a framework called Business Technology Management (BTM).

"IT was working on 100 projects, moving one inch at a time," said Holley, who works at Naperville, Ill.-based Tellabs. Holley was among the dozens of technology executives who shared best practices at last month's Forbes CIO Forum in San Francisco. She described two problems common to many chiefs of IT departments: "We were not adding value, and we were seen as a cost center."

Holley decided to address those problems by using BTM. "I started by talking to a lot of people -- and I listened," she explained. "It wasn't anything huge. It was a framework and it didn't cost a lot."

The BTM framework is grouped into four areas to help CIOs map their strategies: Governance and organization; managing technology investments; strategy and planning; and strategic enterprise architecture.

"The underlying premise of BTM is that technology and business have been seen as two separate entities," explained Vallabh Sambamurthy, co-chair BTM Global Research Council, and another Forbes conference attendee. "The framework is the catalyst for change."

Implementing BTM may not be costly, but it's not an easy task because it can mean changing the culture of the organization." The challenge is not the technology; the challenge is the culture," said Becky Wanta, global CTO of PepsiCo Inc.

Last year, Wanta had 930 IT projects due for completion. She said she knew she wouldn't make those deadlines without an IT transformation. "I needed technology to be seen as strategic and not a necessary evil," Wanta explained.

Wanta bought a tool from Enamics, which founded the nonprofit BTM Institute. "The tool comes with a series of templates," Wanta said. According to the BTM Institute's Web site, BTM enables companies to align, synchronize IT and business management.

Using BTM, CIOs can look at their budget and determine how much is spent on technology and how much is going toward management and issues surrounding the organization. "Sixty-five percent of my budget is what it takes to run my business," Holley said.

According to Michael Fillios, executive director of the BTM Global Research Council, "Portfolio management is the other 35%."

Getting BTM doesn't happen overnight, and it does mean change for your IT organization. Wanta concluded, "Transformation is a journey."

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