Startup ITM aims to help IT manage its own business

New tools are now available to CIOs

A startup founded by former IT executives Monday announced a set of software packages that aim to give CIOs (chief information officers) management tools on a par with those long available for finance and other corporate functions.

ITM Software Corp. has developed a foundation application and series of add-on software modules designed to help CIOs manage IT as a business-within-a-business, rather than simply as a function, according to Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Kenneth Coleman. The modules target management of vendor relationships, project portfolios, human capital and governance and standards such as the new U.S. Sarbanes-Oxley regime.

"IT is becoming a mature function," Coleman said. "CIOs have to focus on managing cost, adding more value, becoming more transparent. Everything we do is focused on those objectives for the CIO and IT staff."

ITM's software is priced at an average of $100,000 per module, including services, for a company with about 1,000 IT staff, Coleman said.

Current pressure on CIOs to demonstrate the value of IT to the business, to manage outsourcing and comply with new regulatory requirements such as the Sarbanes-Oxley act may make the time ripe for products such as ITM's, according to analysts.

"Lots of people we're talking to are grappling with these issues," said Dana Gardner, senior analyst for application infrastructure and software platforms at The Yankee Group in Boston. "They need accountability and they don't have visibility." The kinds of management tools more traditionally available to IT executives provide technical metrics, not business information, Gardner added.

"IT organizations need better technology to really function as a business," said Dennis Gaughan, research director at AMR Research Inc. in Boston.

Other companies are addressing this arena along with ITM and it will have to compete with some major players, Gaughan said. "What's interesting about ITM is that it's all driven off a consistent data model. That's the luxury of a startup company; other vendors have an integration challenge."

Customers will also face a challenge: motivating IT staff to input and update the information in the ITM tools, Gardner and Gaughan agreed.

"IT organizations are by and large not very well defined in their processes," Gaughan said. "A lot of this data exists, but in different places. You have to enforce a discipline in the organization, that hasn't been there before, for this to really be successful."

At the Burbank, California, Screen Actors Guild -- Producers Pension & Health Plans, CIO Nader Karimi is currently implementing the ITM project portfolio management and vendor relationship management modules, and so has not yet reached the point of ensuring that his staff keeps the data in the applications updated. Previously, he had used a variety of ad-hoc tools and processes that he had compiled over the last 10 to 15 years to track his part of the business.

"The ITM tool will allow me to automate and centralize my best IT business practices," Karimi said in an e-mail response to questions. "The ITM Software products will provide us with dramatically more visibility into our IT organization, with the first step being IT projects. Visibility is critical to us in communicating the business value of our efforts to the various organizations we serve." On Karimi's wish-list for enhancements to the product are tools to aid in compliance with more government regulations, in particular HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) privacy and security regulations, he said.

ITM, based in Mountain View, California, has raised $12.8 million in venture capital to date, closing its latest $3.8 million round of financing earlier this month.

Besides targeting North America, it is also selling in Japan and has Japanese versions of its products currently available. Coleman expects the company to be in Europe later this year, with an early focus on the U.K., Netherlands, France and Germany.