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Percent of IS budget to sales/total revenue
Top technologies thru 2012
Metrics used to manage service level agreements (SLAs)
Third party for hardware support
Allowing iPads to connect to the
Successful methods for system consolidations
Lessons learned from using offshore resources
s for business intelligence products
Recommendations for financial reporting/budgeting/forecasting
August 31, 2010
hank you for joining today's CIO discussion. We are going to start with
budget issues. Janet’s topic.
TOPIC: Percent of
IS budget to sales/total revenue
Percent of IS budgets to sales or to total revenue, and you want to get a
feel for the rate that is most standard. You thought it was around
of sales or of
revenue. What are others projecting as their
Is that correct?
That is correct, yes.
Do you want to share where you are at,
? I did set a poll up
take in a minute.
Sure. Basically, the reason that I am asking this question, is because I think
we are understaffed in our IS area relative to how our company has been growing, and
just in informal conversations with people, you know, somewhere between two percent
ee percent of sales is where most companies seem to be. We are at about
of sales, is what our current budget is.
One and a half percent of sales. Anyone else with comments?
This has been an ongoing thing that we have taken a lot of different polls, and
I believe there are polls that may be in
the NOREX library
. The challenge in making a
statement of, you know, I am one and a half, or I am two, or I am one percent o
very difficult to come up with an exact, well, this is what my industry standard is. I
of those documents out there gets down and measures staff sizes
compared to revenue, equipment, what is all included with your telephony and your
ices and so forth and so on. So, it all depends on what is included in your
We did just send a new
IT Budget Quick Poll to the membership
that will be published
as soon as results are collected.
Thanks for bringing it
Let's take the poll, see if we
more comments, for those who can take it, and we
probably have 26 or 27 on the web portion, over 30 on the other portion. Percent IS
budget to sales total revenue.
One thing you may want
to do also is see if you can find any statistics for peer
groups in your same industry. So for example, for us, we do not even have total
revenue. We have assets under management, and so what we will do is compare to
some of the other firms that in a simil
ar business to us and use those stats for
Very good point.
Again, I think he was reiterating basically the same type of thing that I was
indicating, is that, within your industry, making sure that the comparable
s are correct.
That is a difficult thing.
this size audience today, too.
I just wanted to let you know that since we are a government organization, I
reported on the poll percentage of operating budget, just
so that you will know. I do not
know if there are other government organizations on the line, but they probably did the
same. Then, the benchmark that we use to compare ourselves, the Gartner group has
an excellent annual survey that reports a lot of thes
e staffing and vending statistics by
industry. They also have one just for government, and also, they also have, they can fit
the data by the size of your organization, because it is just very hard to compare across
industries and even within your industry
to compare based on size. So for example, as a
state government organization, we would not compare ourselves necessarily to big
federal agencies, but certainly would to larger cities or other state agencies.
Good point. Thanks, Renee. Well, Ja
net, any other comments before we
No, that would be helpful, and if someone could look for the
would be great.
We will seek that out and add it to the transcript
A couple more
We, our budget cycle is a fiscal year, starting July through June, and we got
hit hard with, this is the way it is, we are cutting, and so you put down just exactly what
you think you are going to spend in this next year. You know, a lot of thing
s were just
cut out that we used to have. Flexibility, we had absolutely no flexibility this last year. I
do not know if others have seen or anticipated the same thing or not.
OK, for ours, pretty much our spending for this year is, if it w
t a regulatory
requirement or something that auditors were pushing for,
it did not get funded.
So, it was strictly a “keep the l
on” year for us.
who would say that their budget is going to increase, is there any
why? Is it more hardware, wireless,
software? What is
it due to
Good question. For those who are going to be having more spending, what
will you be investing in? Any comments, please?
We are increasing our staff in terms of the
number of web developers that we
have on staff, so that is where our investment is going.
Anyone else who had an increase? 30.4 percent, so there should be a
couple more comments, if we could.
We, too, have increased for two new web
developers this year, and also our
service contracts are going up. We estimated a three percent increase on that.
We have got healthcare reform impact. We do health insurance claims
processing, so there are a lot of implications for us with the he
TOPIC: Top technologies thru 2012
Regardless of your organization's technology plans, what do you feel the
top technologies will be in the next couple of years? Would anyone like to adopt or
share any comments or thoughts o
n that question?
I think one of the things that I am trying to get my arms around over the next
few years is what the place of cloud computing and hosted applications is going to be. I
am sure I am not the only
I hear a giggle, because I am sure that is a common
We are in the cloud computing field, so the more we see about it, our
decisions started probably over a year, well, several years ago, and we are doing
several cloud computing things at
this time, and it is really paying for itself.
I would be interested in there are other government organizations on the line
that have made investments in cloud computing, and if so, if what respect have they
I was just going
to note that, while we are intrigued with cloud computing, the
biggest hurdle is more regulatory, in terms of, where is this information stored, and
ou know, we have guarantees that things are stored either within our state
or certainly withi
n the United States. That resulting lack of control, going to a cloud
computing architecture, in terms of auditing and public records requests, things like that
hat is the biggest hurdle we see for clouds.
I have got a question coming up later
on specifically about who is using
business intelligence, but as we get bigger and bigger, I am seeing the need for the use
of data warehouses and cube technologies to get a handle around our various
databases, so I see that as something that, we have rea
ched the tipping point where I
know it is not new technology, but I think it is technology that I think certain businesses
are growing into and needing to investigate.
One of the areas we are moving more into, and sort of
enables some of the
other technologies, including and helping out in the cloud world whether you use cloud
or not, is the desktop and the application virtualization, which provides opportunities to
take a lot of the complication off of the PC under the des
k and standardize and move it
into the back room, which also enables the ability to kind of work anywhere where you
have access to the internet. People can work at home, if we have disasters in the
building, people can still essentially have access to thei
r own PC, because it has been
virtualized, and so their applications have been virtualized. In some ways, kind of going
back to where I started in this industry back in the 1970's where it was all maintained
centrally and you just sort of had access to dat
Right. I am not sure if anyone saw a full page
today’s paper. It was addressed to
users, I believe.
This is exactly where we have ended up with basically that environment, not
server, but using a thin client solution, not Microsoft but using a thin client
solution. We have exactly what, I do not know who the last gentleman was, was talking
about. You can log in from virtually any place in the world and perform your task. All the
data is stored on a local NAS or a local SAN that we maintain and backup and control
For those who do not know, Keith is with
, a large not
profit organization. Renee, we did not really get an answer to you
from the government
perspective beyond the state and the regulatory comment. Going back to that at all,
states, government going into cloud computing?
at least for us
I think government lags a little bit
private, just because of
. You know, I think we are still heavily investing in virtualization for
servers, and we actually are looking at desktop virtualization as well, especially as we
migrate from our operating system on the desktop to Windows 7. We are looking at
r not some sort of virtualized desktop makes sense for us.
One of the things that I have seen and is successfully being implemented now
now has a governmental email connection that governments, I
hink one government agency is already signed up for it, or several have already signed
up for it. So again, if email is a concern going forward, you can probably check that out
a little bit more.
Yes, thank you. I think that there was a major ci
ty in California. I do not know
if it was San Diego or San Mateo.
It was Los Angeles, I believe.
Los Angeles, yes, moved to Google. Do you know what Google did? Is their
offering for government any different due to some of the issues we
were just discussing
about auditing and discovery and public requests?
Probably, but you would have to get with Google. We have been using
Google now for three years, and we use Postini on the back end of it, which gives us all
kinds of security
Per employee cost for that? What is your per email
I think we are spending
about ten dollars per user, but it is a not
pricing at this point
Oh it is. OK. Ten dollars per user
hich would be less than the
email service we have today, which our centralized shared services department of IT
three dollars, so that is a savings.
What a government
saving is on that, I do not know. I know school
cheaper than what we get. As far as, I know one of the concerns out there is the
security of the data, and if you read the security releases by Google, Google is really
scared, and they have got people
out there that are really good at keeping bad people
TOPIC: Metrics used to manage service level agreements (SLAs)
This next topic is from Christopher. What metrics are others using to
manage their service level agreements with internal department customers? Metrics for
managing SLAs, not always an easy task
We put together a few things several years ago and
started managing a lot by
projects, everything is project
oriented here once it reaches a certain dollar threshold,
and what we try to do is be predictable. So if we get a request in from one of the
departments or one of the affiliate companies, I have to
we want to give you
first estimate as quick as we can. We try to give those within five days. We measure
that, how quick we are on our turn
around for those estimates. Then I tell them that I
want my first estimate bo
on the schedule and the
dollar amount to be within 25
then give me the benefit of the doubt to go through a deeper dive in what we call the
first phase of our project methodology
the discovery phase. At the end of that phase,
go back to them with an adjusted number, sched
ule, and dollars, and then I want to be
of that number at the end of the project. For the past two years, we have
been measuring those two points in time for those two SLAs and been coming pretty
close to it. My goal for that is for them to know
when we give them an estimate, we are
going to be in that range, to where they can feel comfortable approving it.
Thank you, Bob. Is that anything that you have documented at a
ll? Like a
guideline for folks
within the N
Maybe. I will have to see what I have got. I mean, I have got the charts
line charts, that show those measurements per project, but you know, just the process
is not very well documented.
We have IT work order service level targets
. We have an automated IT work
order system for problems and service requests, and you know, we measure
percentage of critical problems impacting multiple users resolved within four hours, and
then our second metric is percentage of critical problems impac
ting single users
resolved within eight hours. So we have established those as our service levels, and we
report on those to the organization.
Thank you. Any comments for Renee? Renee, if we could have any of that
documentation you know we wou
ld love it.
We actually did finish our annual plan and I can send a copy that has all of
our IT performance measures in it if that would be something that folks would like to
Outstanding, thank you. Other comments on SLAs in
I publish a monthly dashboard to the executive team and that is something that
d probably clean up and share. A couple of other things on it that we measure,
are not necessarily service level agreements so there are not pain/ga
changing hands at the end of the month but we do measure the number of help desk
tickets and average time to close those tickets. I can tell
depending on how that
average time to close fluctuates
the kind of projects that my help desk guys are
involved in. the other thing that we measure is system up time and application up time.
difference being that the applications can be available even though you might have
one or two nodes of your system down for maintenance or whatever reason in a
stered environment. We put a target for every system, data base, infrastructure, as
well as a target up time for all of the applications and then we measure those through
some Tivoli monitoring and some other methods every month. All of that goes on my
hboard that I publish to the executive team.
TOPIC: Third party for hardware support
Thank you Bob. We will move to the next topic which is Bob’s. Is anyone
using a third party to provide hardware support for their Dell, IBM, EMC or Cisco
I get calls from companies like SMS and other third parties that want to take
your infrastructure maintenance so you are not paying the vendors top dollar price.
I am just a little hesitant of doing that. I am not in a position to stand up in front of the
board when I have got a system down and tell them that IBM is not engaged.
Is anyone doing this yet or have a view point on using a third party to
provide hardware support?
We currently use a company called A
. When I am talking about third
party support I am talking about anything that is out of warrant
y of course. We are
looking to move to a company called DecisionOne. I actually submitted a topic, I don’t
know if it is coming up soon here.
can provide better support.
I was looking for input as to what experiences anyone else ha
with AMTEK we haven’t been extremely satisfied with them mainly because they
contract out all of their work. So they hold the contract but local vendors will actually
supply the support and the SLAs aren’t always met. So I guess i
t depends if you are
looking for parts only support or actually hardware troubleshooting.
is next. Back to Bob, what was yours for?
Was that hardware only or support of the hardware as well?
I think it is right in line with what Shane is asking about. It is things after your
warranty period and the large manufacturers
want to charge you a pretty good penny for
years four and five and beyond. I have had some contact with an old colleague of mine.
He is the president and CEO of SMS which is another firm that does this third party
maintenance. I challenged him as well on
who does the actual work; is he farming that
work out to individuals or other subcontractors for the same question that Shane
Comments from others?
I just sent a link to Service Express, a company that we are very happy w
have been using for over four years. I ju
t threw that in the chat room there.
ervice.com, is that correct?
That is correct.
We will have that in the transcript folks. You are happy with them?
Very happy. We have been putting more and more equipment on there all of the
hey have got quite a bit of our equipment under warranty now in service
and they are very
very good in terms of timeliness.
Geographically are they everywhere?
That is a good question. The website will probably tell
Well Bob a few ideas for you. Shane you are looking for someone who has
got DecisionOne. Is anyone with
on today? We hear about it a lot Shane.
We will have to look outside of this call
contract yet. We are actually in a reference state right
now. that is why I put that out there. So any input would be greatly appreciated.
Anyone? We will work on that one for you Shane.
TOPIC: Allowing iPads to connect to the corporate ne
Moving on to Phil; has anyone allowed the widespread deployment of
iPads connected to their corporate network? Deployment of the iPad has been a big
members. We had a very large
on that. It was
hard to ma
nage, hundreds on that call and there will be more coming I am sure.
Vincent: In fact we just approved personally own iPads to connect to our network. So
we don’t pay for the devices, we don’t support the devices and we don’t pay for any of
the data plan
s. The only thing that we support is the connectivity as well as using iPads
for wireless access to mobile _____.
So they are employee owned iPads?
Yes, we are taking the same employee owned approach. The one thing that
we are doing to support that is making sure that our remote access platform is
compatible with the iPad so we are using the Citrix remote access platform. It is
basically considered ex
ternal wireless network. So they cannot connect anything to the
Thank you. Anyone else with an iPad related inquiry? We have got a
couple of people on that have shared their viewpoints and their strategy.
I know we
requests for people to replace their laptops with iPads
and currently there is a problem with our VPN client loading on it.
Any more detail that you can give us on that?
I am sorry. I don’t know what the name of that V
PN client is but we are having
trouble from our security perspective getting it to work with that.
TOPIC: Successful methods for system consolidations
What successful methods exist for system consolidations like getting rid of
n anyone be a source for Randy on this topic offline?
I would be happy to be an offline contact for him.
Thank you. Anything short you can share with us so we get it in the
Sure, I guess we have acqui
red several blocks of business or several
companies over the years and we have a corporate initiative to stay on one
administration system. So we just stay focused on that and once you get people up to
speed on doing system conversions they can just click
along and we just follow a
standard project management format.
TOPIC: Lessons learned from using offshore resources
Jim asks; what are some of the pitfalls or lessons learned from using
offshore resources. Jim you have not done this before?
Correct. I mentioned earlier our healthcare reform workload that is coming or
that is here, I should say. The amount of work that we have in front of us may force us
to look at other options. We can only add so many staff. You can only augment so many
ultants. So we are looking at the
of using some offshore resources as
well. we just wanted to get an idea of what are the things that we need to watch out for.
What are some of the lessons learned or pitfalls from some other companies that may
be using offshore today?
Specifically are you looking at using contractors so for example somebody that
is an offshore contract firm? Or are you looking at establishing your own presence
Using a contract firm.
Jim, are you concentrating on certain areas?
It would be development.
We have looked at doing offshore before and with a combination of
companies they required a presence not only at your location but a presence of the
ore. As we have looked at them making sure that communication is a
biggie there, making sure that they are doing the right thing and writing the right thing.
We did have an opportunity where we have had a person
India working for us for
He chose to go back to India.
So he is working from India right now so I
guess we do have an offshore consultant there but he
actually worked for us in the past
for several years. I don’t know if that is a help. If you can find somebody that wants to
and have them work for you a while and then go back you can get them
at a discounted rate.
We have a presence in India so we have just
100 employees there
______. One thing that I think for the IT side of it and they did
the same thing on the
accounting side that I think was critical to the success of it, was actually bringing people
over here, having them work side by side as part of the team for three months and then
sending them back. It sounds like Keith kind of had t
he same experience of having
somebody work side by side so they feel like a team. It really makes a big difference.
The other thing is unless you are doing it at a significant scale the hidden costs, the
overhead costs and coordination costs, ______ doing
it just because you can get
people there then that is a different way of looking at it. if you are looking at it just strictly
as a cost cutting measure if you are looking at a team of under 15
20 people then you
are not going to save any money on it.
That is good information, thanks.
TOPIC: Recommendations for business intelligence products
Jim has our next topic. Is there anyone using a business intelligence
product that they are very pleased with?
We have been using the Pentaho open source suite for about a year and a
half and have actually been really impressed with its capabilities considering that it is an
open source package. That is the one that we have been pleased with so far.
Thanks a lot for that. I will look into that.
Other BI products?
We also had looked at Pentaho which was the open source service. Again it
was one of the things that we st
arted in and the needs changed for the organization.
You have got to have people that really understand data sets and data cubes in order to
set up the drills behind the scene.
I am not sure what part of business intelligence tools they are loo
We recently invested in Pervasive Data Engine and Data Profiler. That is in the area of
extract transform load and profiling data which we use to extract data out of multiple
data sources and put it into a warehouse. That is a company out of Texa
s and we have
been very happy with it.
it is very well priced for sort of mid
TOPIC: Recommendations for financial reporting/budgeting/
s there anyone using a financial reporting/ budgeting/forecasting tool that
they are pleased with? Jim I should ask
of these questions; have you got
something that you have researched a little bit, products you have researched for this?
Yes, we have been looking at some that fall between tier one and tier two level
things. Cognos has got Cognos Express and Cognos TM1 subsets of their full featured
Suite. We were looking at that group pretty much and a couple of other ones.
ames are avoiding me right now. that is on the BI side. On the financial reporting
side we are on a product called FRX which works now with our dynamic SL product
which used to be called Solomon. FRX is going away in about another year in terms of
I think it is 2011 or late 2012. So we are looking. We use Prophix for our
budgeting side. We are looking at finding if there is one tool that can do the reporting,
budgeting and forecasting all in one. In other words combining FEX with Prophix since
ave to look at the sunset of the FRX tool. Again this is a web based product which
allows us to publish our monthly reports and let people drill down to the level of detail
once these reports are published which is kind of very nice for our accounting
rtment not to have to publish reports in terms of all of them have web access. So
that is the goal is to find the next evolution of our budgeting and forecasting tools.
One of the things that we have looked at was
a product called Palo or Palto
that would connect into the Pentaho
system. You could either do it web based or extract
into data sets which you could review with either Excel or open Office. As we have
refined Open Office down to the point, we have refined the use of data pilots within
Open Office and Excel as well that
we get a lot of financial reporting very quickly that we
can do graphing and a lot of different things with just data pilots. I am not sure what it is
called in Excel but they are just marvelous. They give you a quick change. We can look
into our back end
data store or download stuff into either one of these which gives you
quick views of all kinds of things that again adapts very quickly to graphing. So check
out in a spreadsheet the data pilot function. It is fantastic.
Very good. Thank you.
And the name of that product?
e had l
ooked at it and I had done a bunch of research on it and there
was a regular little cube that connects into the system.
How about in general on our CIO/CTO discussions, could we get some
insights from you on if you would like a
opic to be discussed rather than a
more general opportunity to bring up various technologies and areas? Is there a certain
direction you would like N
to go for our next one on
Open Source is the area that we are in and we have converted almost totally
to Linux desktops. Our Linux desktops are clones. We have over 15,000 desktops in the
field that all just connect back to our main servers.
of them just dies or
you can go to any other one and be back online in a matter of just minutes. So
again I heard one gentleman saying we are going back to the 70’s of terminal clients
and this is where we have already gotten to but in a Linux environment. I don’t know if
body else has any interest in doing that or not.
I think open source is a broader topic that may be a focus for CIOs/CTOs
certainly in the desktop environment but also just generally with applications. I just
recently was asking to connect with members on GIS open source options. We are right
now sort of
a slave to one big vendor names Esri (?) and though their products are good
they are expensive. So maybe just a general open source topic might incite a lot of
Great points from both of you. We are noting. Tom also mentioned cyber
ecurity and cloud, having dedication to
topic more specifically on a CIO/CTO call.
When the first individual talked about the Linux desktops I think what that made
me think of is what we have here on our virtual desktop environments. All of o
developers, their development machines are virtuals. There is no physical. They have
computers but they are really signing into a virtual machine to do all of
their development. So virtualization might be a topic, not only of servers but
irtualization of the desktop.
End of discussion
IT PERFORMANCE BENCHMARK
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IT BUDGETING STRATEGIES
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following areas: percentage of IT budget designated for salaries, software, hardware,
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