Connecting the Value of IT: A Disciplined Solution for Service Costing and Chargeback

This post corresponds to the webinar “Connecting the Value of IT: A Disciplined Solution for Service Costing and Chargeback,” the last in our “Let Your Profitability Soar” webinar series. You can access the recording here.

 

Within an organization, technology is mission-critical to most business strategies, and IT costs represent a significant portion of back office spend.

Among their many responsibilities, the CFO and the CIO must make sure that:

  • Technology spending is aligned with business strategy
  • Business applications and end-user services are delivered efficiently and cost-effectively
  • Coherent project portfolios that grow and transform the business are created and nurtured

Within this new economy, a key ongoing goal of the CIO is to make sure that IT is aligned with business strategy.

Generally, this IT-to-Business Strategy alignment is achieved in two ways:

  1. Running the business: Providing a cost-effective level of internal services necessary for sustaining business activity.
  2. Building the business: Managing and delivering portfolio development projects that are prioritized and aligned with all key business initiatives aiming to improve efficiency and aid in gaining competitive advantages.

The Nature of the Problem

One challenging pattern we see time and again is the ongoing disconnect between the CIO and the CFO.

Some might say this disconnect is an inevitable result of the fact that technology is moving so fast and we don’t always have the time to stop and assess its value. Understandably, it can be difficult for a CFO to get away from all the checks and balances just to get the financial books closed, let alone turn attention to the books that measure performance at greater depths, like line of business.

In general, as a function of the role, the CFO does not talk servers, desktop deployments, applications or other semantics of the technology business. Conversely, with many companies establishing Technology Shared Service Centers, pressure is placed on the CIO to operate the business of IT with the same financial disciplines the CFO requires of all lines of business. The CIO must connect the value of IT services and capabilities to internal business partners. To achieve this, IT Finance teams require performance management solutions that are IT-specific, yet are connected to Finance, to ensure efficient allocation of resources and effective delivery of internal services.

Part of the CFO’s role is to look at the technology projects and initiatives and think about how all of this technology is adding value. CIOs have to fill information voids, while also having to build their own financial models and performance management book of record using their own resources.

Two seemingly differing views of value can be hard to navigate and leverage. If two divergent approaches are not connected in a common view among the key stakeholders, then—more often than not—there is ongoing value-related confusion. Ultimately, the dissonance between the line of business owners can stall or even paralyze decision-making.

A Better Language Is Needed

For the good of your organization, it’s imperative that the CIO and the CFO speak the same shared language of value and that they connect in an effort to move forward in the most aligned and productive manner possible.

Speaking a shared language—one that offers a unified financial model view and is based on shared definition of value—is a key to finding a solution. The disciplines of ITFM (IT Financial Management) is about equipping both of these executive-level offices and their teams with a better language.

With an ITFM solution, you are able to:

  • Reduce the time that IT Finance spends on managing the business processes, providing more time for value-added analytical activities
  • Give IT Managers more detailed, timely, accurate data to better understand the cost & effectiveness of the services and projects they are delivering
  • Provide Line-of-Business managers with cost transparency into IT allocations and chargebacks, allowing them to better align their consumption of services with their business goals

ITFM focuses on these finance business processes:

  • IT Planning: Budgeting & forecasting of IT Operating and Capital Spend
  • IT Costing: Linking supply side financial cost structures with demand side consumption for services and projects
  • IT Chargebacks: Equitably charging lines of business for internal services and projects performed (or Showback)

IT Finance Organizations typically manage these processes through a series of multiple systems and offline spreadsheets. These processes are not ideal, as they create pain as far as inefficiencies and ineffectiveness in terms of results.

Our preferred solution for IT Service Costing—co-developed with Oracle—is based on PCMCS (Profitability and Cost Management Cloud Service). Oracle’s PCMCS is a cloud-based, packaged performance management application. It offers, in one package, a rules engine for cost allocations, embedded analytics and data management platform.

When developing the solution with PCMCS, the following were top priorities for our team:

  • That it required no large initial investment
  • That it was accessible to all
  • That it was always updated/up-to-date
  • That limited IT involvement was needed

Oracle IT Financial Management Solution Overview

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The ITFM solution, a joint development effort with Oracle and based on valuable feedback and results from multiple Ranzal customer implementations, offers all of the following in one package:

  • Pre-Packaged Content for Cloud or On-Premise
  • Pre-Built Data Model
  • Pre-Built Costing Model & Reporting Content
  • Pre-Built Interface Specifications

A key component of the PCMCS IT Costing & Chargeback Template is its approach to modeling IT Like a Service Business, which includes the following modules:

  • Model Financials & Projects: This first step is focused on modeling financial projects, allowing you to combine multiple data sources, perform cost center allocations and, for those customers without an existing project costing system in place, to perform basic project costing and project allocation functions.
  • Complete Costing of IT Operations: This second pillar of the solution provides a flexible framework that allows you to combine data from multiple sources, perform resource costing and perform service costing.
  • IT as a Business Service Provider: This third leg of the solution service considers catalogue & bill rates, contribution cost trace, consumer showbacks and consumer chargebacks.

 We Have Options, You Have Options

Our Flexible Maturity Model allows customers to start where they feel most comfortable, and progress in a way that is focused on maximum flexibility for maximum effectiveness. No one size fits all, and we believe in starting right where you are.

Connecting Value of IT Image 2

 

For more information or to request a demo, email us. Be sure to ask if your company qualifies for our one-day complimentary PCMCS assessment of your IT Service Costing needs.

Full Circle Planning, Cost Management, & Profitability in the Manufacturing Industry

This post corresponds to the webinar “Full Circle Planning, Cost Management & Profitability in the Manufacturing Industry.” You can access the recording here.

As we are all aware, today’s manufacturing industry faces multiple ongoing challenges, including:

  • Changing customer/consumer demands
  • Shrinking operating margins
  • Ever-changing compliance and regulatory pressures
  • Increasingly globalizing economy
  • Lowered availability and visibility of detailed information

Now more than ever, manufacturers’ focus is not just on growth, but, more specifically, on profitable growth.

 

Managing Profitable Growth

When it comes to profitable growth and insight into profitability, the first place to start is the consolidated P&L.

But while the P&L offers information on profitable growth, it does not help manage profitable growth. The financial P&L provides limited insight into costs, profits and their underlying drivers, from the perspective of their lines of business, products, customers, markets and channels. Cost bases are imperfect and are limited to legacy standard costing and unstructured cost extracts. Results lack a matching of costs and revenue to manage margins at the same strategic view as revenue.

 

The Need to Focus on Strategic P&Ls

To address and contend with these challenges, we recommend a greater focus on more strategic P&Ls for the manufacturing industry.

Strategic P&Ls provide insight into both direct costs and indirect costs.

  • Direct Costs include costs directly associated with:
    • The making of a product or delivery of a service
    • Parts for the product
    • Labor for Service Delivery
    • Costs directly attributed to the selling to a customer or client
    • Shipping and handling expenses
    • Customer processing expenses
  • Indirect Costs include costs that are not directly attributable to the making of a product, delivery of a service, or the selling to a customer:
    • Operating costs (e.g., Call Center, Distribution)
    • Selling costs (e.g., Sales & Marketing)
    • Investment costs (e.g., R&D, Initiatives)
    • G&A costs (e.g., IT, HR, Finance, Admin)
    • Finance charges for Cost of Capital Employed

Measurement of indirect costs in particular can be difficult.

 

What Would A Solution for the Manufacturing Industry Look Like?

With all of this in mind, it’s important to look at the big picture when determining what manufacturers can do to attain strategic P&Ls and overcome their challenges?

The ideal solution for the manufacturing industry would:

  • Design, support and evolve to an integrated financial process
  • Leverage operating metrics and key assumptions to:
    • Link business drivers behind financial performance
    • Modify drivers and assumptions to plan future performance and attain strategic P&Ls
    • Drive accountability to Lines of Business
  • Offer a consistent and transparent framework to support indirect cost attribution
  • Use integrated applications and tools to support and adapt to changing business processes
  • Provide robust reporting to business for transparency into causal factors

A true full-circle planning, costing and reporting solution that aligns and adapts to an integrated financial process includes the following:

  • Driver-based revenue planning and departmental expenses leveraging the actual financial data, operational metrics
  • Integrated costing capabilities that can allocate indirect expenses to lines of business by leveraging the same actuals, plans and drivers used in the planning process
  • Robust and real-time reporting to surface strategic P&Ls by Customer, Product and other Lines of Business

 

Some Solutions are Ineffective and Unsustainable

Our team at Ranzal has seen many manufacturers attempt to piece together a solution using various combinations of spreadsheets, ERP, custom and packaged applications.

Typically, spreadsheets are the most common ingredient given their flexibility and accessibility. But spreadsheets tend to be error-prone, highly manual/labor-intensive and prone also to risk regarding controls and governance. We’ve also seen customizing the ERP as a common solution-oriented approach, but this can be too expensive, overly IT-centric and can also be somewhat of a “black box.” And lastly, custom applications are slow to adapt, can promote high effort and cost and also function like a “black box.”

 

Oracle’s EPM as the Foundation for Full-Circle Planning

We recommend Oracle EPM’s packaged applications to be the foundation to configuring the right full-circle planning, costing and reporting solution that avoids the constraints and risks other avenues bring on.

The specific Oracle EPM offerings that support a full-circle planning, costing and reporting solution involve:

  • Planning & Budgeting Cloud Service (PBCS)
    • Best-in class solution for financial planning, budgeting and forecasting
    • Align top-down and bottom-up processes
    • Consistency of assumptions, calculations and methodologies
    • And many more features here
  • Profitability & Cost Management Cloud Service (PCMCS)
    • Computes Profitability for Units, Segments and Services
    • Pre-Built Framework for profitability modeling: Dimensions, Support for Multiple Cost Allocation methodologies, Validation reporting
    • Graphical Interactive Traceability Maps & Dashboards
    • Measures, Allocates and Assigns Cost and Revenues via User-defined Rules
    • And many more features here
  • Tightly integrated with the Oracle EPM Cloud
    • Consistent Administration with EPM Cloud Offerings
    • Shared Reporting Tools like Financial Reports & Smart View for Office
    • Proven Technology Stack

We believe a comprehensive solution focused on a “Technology Trio” of Integrated Business Analytics, or the convergence of: EPM, BI and BD solutions. Experience and results have shown us that this combination provides the tools and answers needed for improved business performance, increased innovation, better vision, and increased business value.

For more information or to request a demo, email us. Be sure to ask about our complimentary one-day Profitability and Cost Management assessment and how the newly-released Oracle Profitability and Cost Management Cloud Service (PCMCS) can help modernize your solution.