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During Build IT Together in May of 2015, we spoke with Mike Cross and Kenneth Diggs from Greenleaf Hospitality Group, and Mark Roys of CSM Group, to get a varied perspective on the subject of “Doing IT with less.” This is the first installment of a series recapping that session.

What to do with the IT budget

Ken Diggs, the CFO for Greenleaf Hospitality Group, says the big first step is to ask simply “what do we do with our IT budget?” How is it justified? Should it be adjusted? As the CFO, one of his biggest challenges is balancing between all the departments, and how value needs to be assigned—the way marketing spends money will be different than the way engineering spends money. Everyone always wants more money, and they all have legitimate needs.

One recent discussion in IT budgeting is focused on security—obviously it’s a priority, but it’s hard to see ROI on the surface, until you’ve had a breach. Mike Cross, GHG’s IT director, adds that he understands that IT is only one piece of the budget, so he takes that into account when seeking funds for his team. His biggest focus when seeking funding is on the value that they’re adding to the organization—first they seek tools for “keeping the lights on,” and then they can look to new services for GHG.

Determining the ROI

Obviously an ROI is not always cash—when looking at ROI on technology, you also need to ask questions like:

  • Is there additional functionality?
  • Is there additional storage?
  • What happens if I don’t upgrade it—will everything stop working?

Say you delay upgrading the SAN for a year, and there’s a 10% higher risk of my network going down, and it takes 6 hours to get the network back up. You can quantify that! What’s the impact on the business if it’s down for 6 hours? you can highlight these things that could happen without the investment—sometimes there are clear ROIs, and that’s great, but these murky items like increased functionality complicate things.

Not to mention that GHG is in business to create a great experience for their guests—if their IT team can present a technology and show that it will improve the guest experience, it’s easy to sell that. Wireless bandwidth is a great example: everybody needs it, and our guests would benefit from it. Understanding your customer needs, and trying to bring that understanding into the technology conversation.

How does your organization look at ROI in the IT department? Check out the next recap to hear more from the Doing More IT with Less panel from Build IT Together.