A Pleasant Surprise

By Tim Moran  |  Posted 2009-06-04 Print this article Print

To ensure that the executives in its brands and business units understand and are responsible for their IT costs, 1-800-Flowers implemented a chargeback system in which everyone benefits.

A Pleasant Surprise

Bozzo and Tenenbaum have been surprised at how easy the BillBrowser system has been to use. “Nothing runs on our side,” Tenenbaum explains. “We upload the files to ComSci, and they move them into their browser-based system and send an e-mail when they’re ready. I make sure everything looks good, and then everyone who is to get an invoice receives an automated e-mail telling them so. It’s been fairly simple since we got into the routine.”

Bozzo is especially keen on the fact that the setup offers ubiquitous access. “All brand presidents and their direct reports have access to the tool from wherever they are via the Web,” he says, “and they can drill down to whatever level of detail they want.”

It’s too early, Bozzo says, to put a hard-dollar ROI figure on the new process, but he believes the savings will be significant. In fact, if the brands properly use the tool and dive deeply into their invoices, he believes they will be able to drastically lower their IT costs.

Every dollar that’s spent on IT is now allocated. “We can charge back servers, security, and voice and network support, and it’s all very detailed,” Bozzo reports. “The whole company has been affected by our chargeback issue.”

The chargeback process also affects new projects such as the company’s Web initiatives. (See “Web Visions” below.) “The businesses want as much money for project budgets as possible,” Bozzo points out, adding that using the chargeback tool properly will help them achieve that.

In the end, the biggest advantage the chargeback process offers is that it has allowed the online retailer to get true insight into a huge IT budget that’s replete with technical language and terms. “Ultimately,” says Bozzo, “what we’ve done is take all the tech stuff and translate it into business language so that it’s meaningful to our brands and business units. Now they can make decisions in a way they never could before.

“I’ve worked in IT for more than 30 years, and it’s rare that you have a game-changer like this—something you can implement easily, is cost-effective and delivers benefits like this.”

Tim Moran is a freelance writer for Baseline magazine.

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