Aligning IT spending with general business strategies while cutting costs has become the ultimate goal of IT directors, but according to Jim Onalfo, currently chief information officer of the New York Police Department, the secret to success lies in keeping things simple.
While CIO at Kraft, Onalfo introduced a planning process to ensure that all IT expenditure was justified in terms that business managers could understand.
Onalfo developed a software wizard comprising Excel spreadsheets and Microsoft Access databases to help IT staff explain current and proposed IT projects in business-friendly terms.
"The president or general manager could now understand IT spending for the first time," said Onalfo. "It was about eliminating the IT mystique and putting IT in general management terms."
Onalfo estimated that the system saved Kraft about £280m between 1989 and 1997. The savings were broken down into £110m through more astute hardware and software purchases and £170m in returns from IT investment.