Business Rules… rule!

know the rulesRecently I attended a series of client workshops concerning the collection and use of their IT financial data. The discussions centered on how to effectively allocate their IT spend on Fixed Assets, Fixed and Variable Operating Costs, Storage Costs, Server Costs, and Applications. These workshops were important to the client because in order to achieve valid Benchmarks, or a Bill-of-IT for showback and chargeback, costs must be properly allocated amongst the entity’s programs, contracts, and Business Units (BU).
As I listened to the discussion over two days, it struck me that the manner in which functional and financial data is collected, allocated, and analyzed depends upon agreed-to Business Rules. These rules are not always written down, but are often buried deep in the culture of the organization and have evolved or adapted themselves in a manner to allow the organization to function efficiently – or not. Many of these rules never surface until you bring the relevant stakeholders into a room and start breaking-down the information they use to account for and manage IT. Collecting stakeholder data so that it can be modeled under the discipline of Technology Business Management (TBM) and then used to make important resource decisions about the IT department’s future, can effectively focus stakeholder attention. At this point, the untold, undocumented business rules come out. Sometimes there is no business rule to handle a particular case because no one has ever thought to analyze their dataset to a finer level of granularity. Data owners, functional process owners, department heads, and analysts all learn from each other as they discuss how the various business rules are intertwined creating causes and effects across the entity. Often, changes to these rules are made on-the-spot as operating agreements are worked out. Stakeholders want to be clear as to the differences in the way analysts apply business rules to their data, and also how it might be handled under the standardized TBM model. This is important to stakeholders because the results delivered by the model are dependent upon what business rules are applied. If the business rules used in the standardized model are in conflict with what the client actually applies, then the analysis output may not accurately or fairly show how well IT is managing the capability and services consumed by their BU community, relative to accepted benchmarks. Taking time to clearly uncover and document the formal and informal business rules in play with your client will return huge dividends to any TBM Analyst trying to develop organization-wide IT cost transparency. By de-conflicting business rules, your stakeholders, business unit owners and analyst can all be confident that the results fairly represent the organization’s IT spend. And, even though the words “business rules” never came up, I am still convinced that Business Rules…rule! To learn more about Technology Business Management, and IT Financial Management please visit:www.caskllc.com/what-we-do/technology-business-management/

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