David Morgan, Manager
ICT Benchmarking is gone! Now what do we do?
No doubt the recent announcement to cancel whole of government ICT Benchmarking has been received by agencies with much joy, dancing and laughter. But before we all rush to remove this process and carry on with delivery, agencies must first consider the value of continuing and expanding their ICT Cost Performance metrics.
The ICT Benchmarking process has been run for Australian Federal Government departments for almost ten years. The process is largely maligned by the APS, and while it has its shortcomings, it did provide a starting point for ICT managers to form cost performance data to properly manage and demonstrate their performance to ICT consumers and senior executive.
The process costed “ICT Benchmarking Towers”, which essentially aligned with a technical view of ICT service delivery – storage, compute, networks and facilities, etc. While this information is useful for ICT managers and provides delivery metrics, it only tells half the story. What’s missing is a further allocation of the ICT Towers to the real ICT Business Services.
ICT Business Services are those an ordinary ICT consumer can understand – desktops, smartphones, and video conferencing front facing applications. In some cases, it also includes ICT professional services such as hosting or enterprise architecture. The picture below shows graphically how to arrive at a cost for these services.
The problem with trying to use the benchmarking towers for cost performance purposes, or the reason why it fails, is that its costs are categorised in technical terms. This is not well understood by most ICT users. The technical towers which include network, storage and compute are terms which generally make a non-ICT person’s eyes glaze over. If you tell typical users of ICT services that the budget going to ICT provides an excellent gateway and a solid network including a super-duper WAN, they won’t follow or understand. The terms need to be in those they ‘get’, and through allocating costs to understandable business services, the costs start to make sense, value for money begins to be understood and full cost transparency ensues.
To complete this, essentially what is required is the development of a Business Service Catalogue which contains terms that can be understood by a typical ICT consumer. Depending on complexity, it might also mean a further allocation through ICT platforms.
The process for completing this view isn’t new, but to date, it has been larger corporate entities achieving this level of transparency. Over the past few years though, Synergy has been working with several agencies to attain ICT Cost Performance without a huge investment and to receive good value from the process.
Importantly, this process has often been built off the back of ICT Benchmarking processes. Even though it looks like formal ICT benchmarking may have gone for now, agencies should carefully consider the continuation of ICT cost performance calculation and take the opportunity when they can to improve it.