When I speak with IT professionals and hear about the conversations my colleagues have with IT professionals, there is a consistent theme that IT is always being asked to do more with less, for many years. From my16 years in the tech industry I believe that this in part stems from most companies not valuing IT accurately and not viewing IT as “strategic”, but rather as a cost of doing business. And we all know that companies are constantly trying to reduce costs, so if your functional area is seen as a cost of doing business, you will constantly face reductions.
There are many causes that contribute to this “conventional wisdom”, which would probably fill a book, but what I want to discuss is one method IT can use to chip away at that mindset and begin to show the true value that IT delivers to companies through B2B automation. And I happen to have a simple to use tool to get you started.
IBM has just updated its B2B Automation Savings Calculator, which is generally to show the potential annual savings you can expect if you reduce your manual processes by automating more transactions and/or trading partners. However, it can also be used to show the value that IT is currently and has already provided to your organization. By simple altering the inputs to the calculator a little, you can use it to do something else: quantify the specific contribution that using the IBM Sterling Collaboration Network (SCN) of IBM Sterling B2B Integrator has delivered in the past year.
You’ll need to input the data in a slightly different way than described in the questions. For example, in response to the question, “How many total trading partners do you have?” instead of entering the total number of partners, you would enter just the number of currently automated trading partners you have. Then, in response to “What percentage of those are you still trading with manually?” you would answer 100%.
By changing these inputs, the calculator is now computing the manual processing costs your company would incur if your trading partners were not automated. With these modified inputs, your report will show a range of your current cost savings based on a high, average, or conservative processing cost estimates. That is useful data to point to when you need to justify and communicate the value your department is currently delivering to the bottom line.
The calculator was built using industry average data compiled by leading analyst firms Aberdeen Group, AMR Research, and Forrester Consulting. Additionally, you can enter your own figures or use the third-party industry averages. When you reach the executive summary page, the calculator then generates an eight-page PDF report you can download. The potential savings based on industry averages from analyst research are a great starting point for showing the IT department’s contribution; however, using your company’s real costs are more compelling. The report has instructions to help you calculate actual costs for your organization, increasing the accuracy of your estimates.
Use the B2B Automation Savings Calculator to begin to quantify the value IT is delivering your organization. While this is not going to change a conventional mindset that has been solidified over decades, you can begin to change the perspective of the line of business executives at your company by showing the quantifiable value that IT delivers to the bottom line.