For most companies, IT annual planning is a painful exercise. No one looks forward to the
long cycles of confusing spreadsheet approvals and the frustrating puzzle of matching IT budgets to the Finance’s budget and how they look at costs. For up to 6 months at a time, these largely manual planning processes causes unnecessary tension for IT, Finance, and the rest of the business.

With all the time spent on this messy process, IT organizations can’t respond quickly to business requests. And in the end, everyone feels resigned to staying above water by simply matching formats in spreadsheets instead of developing a new vision that drives value for the business.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

You can transform your IT annual planning cycles into the periods of opportunity and growth they’re intended to be. Many businesses have figured out how to remove the unnecessary frustration and invest in the future. Here’s 3 steps you can take to transform your annual IT planning cycle:

1. Align the Conversation through TBM

Getting the Business, IT, and Finance to speak the same language is vital.

Many times, we find ourselves in conflict over language and goals instead of collaborating on the vision for moving forward. Instead of talking about how to optimize run costs and invest in change the business projects, we’re stuck having conversations about how to talk about them.

TBM is a framework that helps everyone talk about running IT like a business. Put to proper use, it helps align IT’s language and goals with Finance and the rest of the Business. Some companies specifically create a TBM office to do this because it helps to have experts that can cross the bridges between organizations at your company.

But, you don’t need a whole office to start practicing TBM, you can find out more at and adopt TBM for yourself as an IT leader.

2. Deploy a Purpose Built Tool for IT Planning and TBM

Many companies build out a suite of custom IT financial management tools to manage data collection and spreadsheet consolidation. Other companies use existing tools, like project portfolio management tools, to collect financial plan data and customize views within these tools for IT Planning. This is expensive and time consuming AND it usually leaves much to be desired—just being useful enough for the wheels to grind forward.

To be successful, you need a purpose built tool that can provide the budget details IT needs to build run and change budgets in a way that matches up to how Finance views costs (i.e., internal labor, external labor, hardware, software, etc) and at the same time be able to communicate planned IT spend back to the business in business terms. With IT Budget data in a single source of record, you can leave your mess of spreadsheets behind.

50% of the Fortune 100 use Apptio for IT planning. It gives them the power to accelerate the annual budget process, redirect resources as needed, and develop a strategic planning horizon.

CIOs using Apptio can go to the CEO or CFO and tell them they’ll self-fund the initiatives that are vital to the organization, not ask for more money every time something needs done.

3. Automate the Planning Cycle

Apptio’s IT Planning product gives you the ability to automate your planning cycle and get rid of chasing endless spreadsheet versions through email.

Now, your team can create budgets for their operations and send it for approval in a single system of record. That budget shows up in your inbox and you can approve or make changes and send it back.

Even better, while you’re in the war room for an annual planning cycle, you’ll have all your financial data right in front of you. When the CEO brings up a change the business project that’s dependent on IT (what project isn’t these days?), you can see all your numbers at a glance. This lets you make real recommendations and agree to projects without setting yourself up to ask for more money in the next quarter.

When your whole IT leadership team has this same capability, your organization can make sound financial decisions at every level. And, any mistakes that have a significant financial impact will be visible and transparent so that they can be fixed right away.

This capability makes you look really good and the clear financial data eliminates unnecessary politics that get in the way of getting real work done.

Want to Schedule a Demo?

Rego would love to show you how Apptio IT Planning can transform your IT annual planning cycle. Once you get a look inside the tool, it won’t take long to see the value for yourself. Contact us here. 

About the Author: Rego Consulting

As the leading Strategic Portfolio Management (SPM), Project Portfolio Management (PPM), Technology Business Management (TBM), Agile and expert services provider, Rego Consulting has helped hundreds of organizations achieve a higher return on their software investment, including 60% of Fortune 100 and 70% of Fortune 20 companies.

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