Orica’s IT division blasts Excel spreadsheets away in favour of cloud software

Mining explosives company will run its FY 2015 IT budget in Apptio

Explosives maker Orica Limited (ASX: ORI) has migrated from Excel spreadsheets to a cloud software suite within its IT department in order to show the wider business the real cost of IT equipment.

Speaking at a media and analyst briefing in Sydney today, Orica Australia director of IT finance Peter Fish said he selected Apptio’s suite of financial software applications to manage IT costs in September 2013.

“One of the things that I have noticed is that IT people are hopeless at communicating to the business, especially people who control the purse strings,” he said.

“We needed something to help us manage the IT business and enable us to talk to the CFO or CEO.”

Another factor behind the software implementation was that Orica went through a business transformation worldwide in 2012. It was changed from a series of individual businesses into one global company which operates in over 50 countries.

This also meant IT transformed from individual IT teams to one global IT team. However, within Australia, Fish said the company has 250 IT staff.

He added that historically the Australian business had been an “Excel [spreadsheet] king”.

In January 2014, the company went live with service costing in January 2014 and is about to go live with the budgeting and forecasting application in April 2014.

"We will also do our financial year [FY] 2015 IT budget in Apptio. We can now calculate the cost of servers, local area networks and storage," he said.

In addition, Fish said that it can take disparate data sets and bring these together to come up with better data driven decision making.

For example, Orica can see what IT equipment such as servers is being utilised and optimise its IT investments to avoid having to buy new servers.

The Apptio suite has been deployed across Orica’s IT department globally. However, there are no plans to roll it out to other parts of the business yet.

“The tool has the capability to be rolled out to other parts of Orica but at this point our emphasis is on improving our understanding of the IT business,” Fish said.

“We need to change from managing [IT] costs to managing services.”

Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick

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