Surviving the toughest economic downturn in recent history was never going to be easy for those in IT, but there are plenty who mastered the art of ROI and are delivering quantifiable business value to their organisations.
IT leaders like Macquarie Bank CIO Nigel Smyth are finding that controlling cost is their number one priority, and when making IT purchasing decisions there must be an ROI within at least two years.
Finance is such a fast-moving industry, Smyth said, it is hard to justify projects that do not show a return in this time-frame, and as CIO he is always looking at opportunities to save costs.
One example is Linux where, he said, Macquarie is investing thousands of dollars in time and resources to test its capabilities for possible future use.
Suzanne Kerslake, Australian technology and services director for global recruitment firm Manpower Services, has a raft of large-scale IT initiatives planned for the next 12 months.
"The key to success will be maintaining perspective -- balancing the IT division's agenda with the rest of the business (which has 900 seats)," she said.
Manpower's main IT priority into 2003 is to achieve an infrastructure refresh which will replace the company's hardware and core business applications for recruitment management.
Kerslake said the main reason for the $1 million investment is to boost the company's competitiveness in the international recruitment arena."
Also mission-critical to the company over the next year will be the replacement of the its legacy-based core HR application which recruiters use to place job candidates.
Kerslake said the challenge will be to configure the application here so it has a level of global sophistication and is Web-based, adding the replacement will require "a lot more in-house development work".
She is also targetting Defence recruitment with a new national in-house application that will be rolled out over four years under a multimillion agreement with the department.
"The return will not lie in cost efficiencies, but in more intangible benefits like the exchange of intellectual capital between the company and the client but with a common system, we expect to leverage the knowledge between their field operations and our IT infrastructure and support staff," she said.
Kerslake says the most challenging aspect of trying to get a return from the organisation's IT investments is prioritising initiatives. Once the most important projects have been identified, the challenge lies in "presenting a very strong business case and very strong cost/benefit analysis" to the board.
"It's difficult -- especially when we've got a major project on and you're trying to control the expectations of different parts of the business," she says.