Q&A with Kris Fitzgerald – Simplify IT

To build on the advice Dell’s CIO and IT leaders shared with Michael as part of his post last Friday, I sat down with a former IT Executive who now runs Dell’s IT Simplification consulting practice. Here’s what Kris Fitzgerald had to say.

As a former IT Executive, anything else you would add to the list of how CIOs are responding in today’s economic climate?

As a CIO, you must always continue to look at items that enhance business value. Lowering costs and improving agility improves the company. In today’s world, IT is no longer just a cost center, it should be a key business enabler, creating strategic advantage for the organization. This is especially critical in trying economic times.

Is there a best way to prioritize IT projects, or is it really based on the business and its needs?

Prioritization is always linked to key business drivers. If, based on the economy, the priority is cost savings, then look at these areas first, even if this means slowing projects that would grow the business. Within that, you should prioritize projects that have a proven ROI. We can help customers understand which projects have been successful in other organizations and are more likely to deliver the returns they want, de-prioritizing projects that have historically been more challenging for others. But not all businesses have cost saving as their No.1 priority (even though it is usually in the top three). Some businesses may utilize these times to make acquisitions. As such, there may be other key IT projects to consider (for example, a focus on integrating and consolidating systems).

Consulting sounds expensive and possibly, something that might get cut first in trying times. How does a company justify the upfront spend?

Consulting, without measurable objectives or targets, can be unproductive and expensive. Consulting needs to be an accelerant, with a clear value assigned – that matches the priorities of the company concerned.

When it comes to justifying upfront spend, we need to ask the CFO would he spend $200,000 to save $1,000,000? Over a 6 month period or over 2 years? The key is the length of time to realize the benefits. Typically, if the projects are self funding within a 12 month period, companies find a way to embark on these projects. If pay-back is two years or more, you might not want to start the project now. For example, server consolidation can quickly optimize budget for server costs as well as immediate savings in power and cooling.

Does consulting always require new product or services purchases?

No. Each consulting project must stand on its own, delivering distinct value to the customer. For example, one key program offered by Dell today is IT Simplification. This program looks at ALL areas of the customer enterprise, from the desktop to the data center, to identify opportunities for savings and improvements in speed of IT delivery. The outcome from the assessment does not include any hardware recommendations, but provides customers with a “blueprint” of actionable projects to improve the way they provision and manage their IT environment.

What is the average cost of IT Simplification consulting?

The approximate cost is $50K to $200K dependent on customer objectives and project scope. As an output to these assessments, we typicallyidentify 5x to 10x of this cost in annual savings for the customer.

What are customers saying about the insight your team provides?

In working with a large university, the CIO said that after partnering with Dell for the IT simplification assessment we knew more about their IT than they did, and have become one of their key strategic partners, enabling them to grow in the future. In doing this for another large commercial customer, we helped prioritize projects and started several key IT projects critical to their organization’s ability to provide a higher level of service to their enterprise.

So tell me more about the kind of people you have on the team?

All the IT Simplification assessments are delivered by seasoned IT executives with an average of 30 years of IT operating experience. These executives are not consultants by background, but operational experts with a strong drive and passion to help customers improve their IT operations.

What size businesses do you serve?

Typically, companies with 1,000 to 20,000 employees. There are always exceptions to the rule – for example, smaller companies where technology is their primary business. Also, younger companies, even large ones, may not need these services because they’ve been doing it right from the start. Most of our customers have been in business for 10 years or more. We recommend contacting Dell to see how the IT Simplification program might apply to you.

Is there a No.1 thing a company can do to simplify and save with IT now?

First, stop doing things that are unnecessary. Some complexity is valid and may create competitive differentiation, but unnecessary complexity is just a drain on resources. Simplify everything you can. From how you engage with business stakeholders to how you develop applications or acquire and operate your IT. People over time have created processes that might have made sense then, but not now. Consider how you spend your time and identify and eliminate unnecessary tasks and projects and simply what you are doing.

For more information on Dell’s IT Simplification consulting services click here. And stay tuned for a Vlog featuring Kris that will post here and on our Inside IT blog soon.

About the Author: Jennifer "JJ" Davis

A seasoned leader with 20+ years of experience, JJ Davis oversees all aspects of Global Communications and Corporate Social Responsibility for Dell Technologies. In this role, she works closely with the Investor Relations and Government Affairs organizations to lead the corporate affairs strategy and foster alignment and advocacy across the diverse stakeholder landscape for the company. Her global team includes media relations, analyst relations, executive communications, team member communications, sales and partner communications, influencer relations, social media, direct giving and sustainability. She also founded the company’s marquee women’s program the Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network in 2010 to support women entrepreneurs’ success worldwide. JJ started her public relations and public affairs career at the Arkansas Office of the Governor and has held various communications leadership roles for both corporations and agencies nationwide. A graduate of the University of Arkansas, JJ lives in Austin with her husband David, a third-generation entrepreneur, and three sons. She is active in her boys’ sports and the family foundation, The Aimee Melissa Davis Memorial Scholarship, supporting graduating seniors with Juvenile Diabetes. She is a member of the Arthur W. Page Society and a board member of the Dell Technologies Political Action Committee.