Does understanding your IT costs feel like the ‘Tower of Babel’?

The ‘Tower of Babel’ – the fabled myth to explain why the world’s peoples speak different languages – resonates a lot in today’s IT world.

For those of you unfamiliar with the story, here’s a quick recap from Wikipedia: “A united human race in the generations following the Great Flood, speaking a single language and migrating eastward, comes to the land of Shinar. There they agree to build a city and a tower tall enough to reach heaven. God, observing their city and tower, confounds their speech so that they can no longer understand each other, and scatters them around the world.

Many of us have come across instances in organisations where CFOs and COOs sometimes find it difficult to understand the “IT blackbox” or receive archaic or incomprehensible responses to queries such as “Why is IT so expensive?”.

How can organisations address this problem? 3 key recommendations below:

  1. Align IT cost categories to industry-standards terminology: Many reputed industry analysts such as @Gartner have designed standard nomenclature with clear definitions that are easy to adopt.
  2. Develop your own Corporate standards: Organisations invest substantial amounts on corporate presentation standards such as slideware. Even if a fraction of this investment is diverted to developing internal standards for the actual content, it would go a long way in addressing confusion. Internal Standards need to be developed for datasets such as IT Application Portfolio.
  3. Educate your audience: Developing standards alone is not enough. Use every opportunity to educate your audience by aligning your internal IT cost reporting to these standards to becomes part of your everyday life.

There are significant benefits in adopting these recommendations. Apart from aligning everyone internally on the same page and providing clear transparency of costs across multiple departments and all levels of the organisation, these standards also enable internal, external and historic benchmarking.