by Lafe Low

IT: Gaining More Business Benefit While Doing Less

Aug 15, 20032 mins
IT Leadership

This year’s crop of CIO 100 honorees include small organizations along with giants. Here are tips for doing more with less from two of the smaller businesses.

Keep the budget lid on. Chase Pitkin Home Centers lives by this rule: “If you don’t know the business benefit, you had better not do it because technology is pretty darn expensive,” says T. Christopher Dorsey, CIO and controller at the retailer. Business volume has increased every year at Chase Pitkin’s 15 stores, while IT spending continues to decline. The company uses non-IT departments’ staff for basic IT needs such as “light” development work, certification and testing. For example, members of the accounting staff do some coding, testing and validation of new financial systems.

Chase Pitkin identifies the hard dollar savings of a project, evaluates the ROI and applies economic value-added analysis, which takes into account the cost of capital required to fund the project. Then, the company measures actual versus budgeted results on an ongoing basis.

Cross-train staff. Most doctors’ offices have a staff-to-physician ratio of 3-to-1. Seattle Eye M.D.s has cut this ratio in half. All of Seattle Eye M.D.s’ six support employees are trained to troubleshoot the software and hardware they use every day—including workstations, point-of-sale software and a SQL Server-based Electronic Practice Management software package. Networked office man- agement technology has eliminated the need for a dedicated billing specialist and a full-time physician assistant. These moves mean the company can operate two retail stores and a Web store with existing staff, says Darwin J. Liao, an opthamologist who serves as Seattle Eye M.D.s’ CIO.