HP has launched software designed to help IT managers to get to grips with IT expenditure. Analysts said the software could help high-tech decision makers cope with the recession by better aligning IT and business decisions.

The company plans to introduce the new application, called HP Financial Planning & Analysis (FPA), as well as upgrades to existing products and services, to an expected 2,500 attendees at its HP Software Universe 2009 event. The standalone FPA application is designed to aggregate information from multiple IT, business intelligence and other systems to help enterprise IT managers plan, track and monitor IT spending.

HP also updated its Project Portfolio Management Center (PPM) and added best practices to its Configuration Management System (CMS). In addition, the company will offer services related to IT financial management, according to company executives.

"A lot of financial information on how IT runs is scattered across corporate systems, but not in a way that detailed information can help CIOs make business decisions," says Robin Purohit, vice president and general manager of software products at HP Software & Solutions. "The process today is extremely manual."

According to survey data commissioned by HP, 70 percent of 200 IT leaders stated that IT demand will outpace budget for the foreseeable future. More than 40 percent said they still lacked investments in portfolio management, which might help to better align IT decisions with business priorities. Two-thirds of those polled said they consider IT spending transparency very important to the business, but only 44 percent said business stakeholders were satisfied with IT spending transparency.

HP says FPA can provide such transparency by removing the manual steps required to aggregate data. The software integrates with existing HP products and automates the process of gathering data from asset management, business intelligence, ERP and other systems. It analyses the data and provides reports that, for instance, compare actual spend with planned spend.

"HP is offering software and services to try to fast-track customers toward IT financial planning with analytics," says Dennis Drogseth, vice president at Enterprise Management Associates (EMA). "HP is offering an incremental approach to help IT start to understand the components of IT and how they relate to cost. Business and IT want cost transparency in this economy."

HP is coupling the FPA software with services to help customers more quickly adopt and integrate the software, and industry watchers argue the time is right for this type of software - despite the lack of budget dollars.

"The combination of asset management, business intelligence and data warehousing capabilities HP is bringing together could provide many in IT operations with the right information to make IT investment decisions," says Evelyn Hubbert, senior analyst at Forrester Research. "Now is the time for this type of product because there is no budget. IT departments are being much more diligent about spending, and this type of technology can help IT plan better and spend smarter."

While IBM has similar technologies in house, analysts say it hasn't packaged them for incremental implementation. Apptio, which focuses on IT cost management software-as-a-service products, competes with HP's FPA application, but other management vendors such as BMC and CA have yet to offer a similar offering.

"Clearly there has been a change in IT to get a better sense of accountability as to how the department spends money," says EMA's Drogseth. "This message is very appealing in 2009, and HP is offering mature capabilities that can deliver some tangible results in a reasonable amount of time."

HP Financial Planning & Analysis is scheduled to be generally available in July. HP would not disclose pricing.