For CIOs, one of the secrets of the trade for building cost efficiency is consolidation of IT assets, such as data centers and help desks. Of course, to accomplish this you need to executive commitment and user buy-in.
The Wall Street Journal, 29 January 2008, reports that “H-P Hits Snag in Quest for Savings through System Consolidation.”
“Since July 2005 [the Compaq merger]…the firm [HP] has been in a project to cut the number of computer program is uses by more than half [from 6000 to 1600], and reduce the number of its data centers…to six from 85.”
Have the benefits of consolidation been documented?
In a survey of 1500 CIOs by Gartner last year, “reducing costs through IT consolidation and other means is one of their top ten priorities.”
Further, according to Forrester Research, “the benefits can be significant” In a survey, last fall, of eight companies that consolidated IT, “nearly all ‘lowered …overall operational costs by at least 20%.’”
What are some of the critical success factors?
- User buy-in—“vice president often aren’t used to taking order from the chief information officer on what computer programs they can use. ‘It’s about politics.’” The way to get around this and develop buy-in is to set the targets with the CEO and CFO, but let the users decide which systems to keep and which to fold into the consolidation.
- Executive commitment— “The solution is to get management support from the top. ‘Getting the CEO lined up is hard, and that’s the key person.’” At HP the CEO “threatened some with termination” that didn’t follow along with his commitment to consolidate.
From a User-centric EA perspective, IT standardization, consolidation, and cost efficiency are important goals. Of course, this needs to be done in the context of developing a sound, secure, reliable, state-of-the-art IT infrastructure. Achieving cost effectiveness must involve building enterprise solutions, merging disparate data centers and help desks, consolidated purchasing, and otherwise standardizing products and streamlining operations. Of course, user buy-is a prerequisite when using a User-centric EA approach.