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We Are All Trading Now

The time has come for IT cost reduction through business alignment

IT budgets are being drastically cut in all sorts of companies. That's not new. But IT is being asked to deliver the similar sort of service, with probably fewer people and less resources. And on top of that, businesses are rapidly changing to adapt to the new paradigms we are continually exposed to. CIOs are thus exposed to a very challenging situation, where recruiting 'expensive' staff is not an option anymore.

So, how can we streamline our IT department and deliver to the business? Here are some tips that could help to achieve IT delivery:

- Processes alignment to business

Let's say we work for an Investment Bank. When we are requested to install a new PC for a trader, we need to think that, at the end of the day, we are enabling trading; we are enablers for the business.  The first exercise then is to clearly identify all business processes and the IT systems which support them. Then prioritise those according to the business priorities.

- Identify hidden IT assets and work

The use of spreadsheets to develop bespoke applications is a common practice among business people. They create their own risk control sheets or their FX control ones and they try to maintain them by themselves. Let's imagine that we need to migrate to the latest Office version. The IT department plans everything accordingly: software and hardware upgrades servers, download and install mandatory OS patches into computers, plan timetables with end users, prioritise work, etc. Everything goes smoothly until the first person in the risk department calls to the helpdesk: 'my spreadsheet does not work anymore!' At that moment, all the perfect plans by IT suddenly collapse. Everybody is angry. 

So in order to know our own IT reality it definitely helps to do proper and effective IT Service Management and then, get the most out of our team by achieving predictibility.

- IT service catalogue

Now that we know which IT assets and processes are key for our business (don't forget that we are all trading!), let's create the IT service catalogue. With the previous exercise, we will easily define and understand which are the IT services we have to define and the SLA that should apply to each of them to minimise the risk of any IT failure. Bear in mind that the same applies for all our external IT service providers. We need to clearly understand what business value they are bringing to our IT department. Finally, this exercise will help us to better define our staff needs in terms of number and skills needed.

 This rationalisation exercise needs to embrace many business departments and, although it will be driven by the CIO, other sponsors from the business are definitely needed and we need them to be onboard.

So let's stop thinking that we are repairing PCs, installing software, solving software defects or maintaining servers: we are all trading!!

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