Should you charge business units for operations?One way to keep business units from forcing your operational costs to rise is to charge them for their share of those operations. This can rein in ever-increasing requests for technology deployments. For example, at United Technologies, \u201cEverything is in the customer\u2019s budget,\u201d says CIO John Doucette. Well, almost everything: of Doucette\u2019s approximately $200 million IT budget, $5 million is considered general corporate overhead. \u201cThe businesses have to believe there\u2019s value in what they\u2019re getting. The only way to get that is for them to pay for it,\u201d he says.Other CIOs think linking operations costs directly to specific deployments or business units is a bad idea. \u201cI\u2019m not a fan of chargebacks,\u201d says Jim Miller, CIO at ThyssenKrupp Elevator. While business managers can understand why they might be charged for a data line, charging business units a share of basic IT infrastructure \u201cgets us into more arguments than its worth,\u201d he says.If you do try to charge business units for their share of operational costs, be prepared to do some tough work, says Dennis Gaughan, research director for IT governance at AMR Research. Not only do you have to determine the costs per activity, you need to calculate its value to the business. \u201cThat\u2019s not trivial,\u201d he says. \u201cYou have to earn a level of respect with the business before you can even begin to do this level of analysis.\u201dEven if you don\u2019t charge back for operations, it does help to have an idea of those rough costs, notes Alex Cullen, principal analyst for IT management at Forrester Research. \u201cAdd a finance person to your staff to help you understand your costs and cost drivers,\u201d he advises. That strategy works well for Learning Company\u2019s CIO John Von Stein. \u201cWe don\u2019t need to do allocation [to business units] because we have a good handle on the costs,\u201d he says, thanks to a partnership with the finance department.