We know the deal: It can be the best of times for your company, but you’re still hearing from upstairs that there is simply “no budget” for the IT projects, personnel, or services you need. Your increasingly urgent requests escalate from simple requests to SOS signals, and you still hear the same thing: “No budget. Maybe next quarter.” Or next year. Or, you think to yourself, next century.
Meanwhile, your IT infrastructure and applications aren’t getting any newer, the help desk requests aren’t slowing down, and the list of sidelined projects isn’t getting any shorter. Or maybe you often find yourself passing a tin cup around “begging” for budget from department managers to fund IT projects. How long will it be, you wonder, until you resort to holding together your company’s information nerve center with little more than duct tape and crossed fingers
Don’t give up just yet. Effective communication—and a little persistence—can do a lot to open both minds and checkbooks when it comes to IT budget increases. We’ve got three ideas that might just help you get the resources you need, and to make the process (almost) painless
- Think like a CFO. You’re an IT person; it’s your job to deal with data and the tools and methods that manage it. Believe it or not, that gives you something in common with your CFO, because they’re interested in data too, but only of a certain kind: Hard numbers. Chances are your department is perceived primarily as a cost center—and even if that isn’t fair, it’s still a fact you have to work with. If you try to see your activities and your department from a CFO’s point of view, you may be able to identify their possible objections in advance—and to overcome them proactively.
- State your needs simply and clearly – and back them up. Finance people hate ambiguity—and they really hate uncertainty. Try to define your project’s scope, resource requirements, and benefits as simply and clearly as you can, with a precisely-determined price tag. Support your requests with as much factual and statistical documentation as you can manage—and make sure that they are presented in clear language that non-IT people can understand.
- Demonstrate dollars-and-cents value. You know the real value that IT provides to your company – but chances are your finance people don’t. It isn’t always easy to quantify your value in concrete terms, but by all means do it to the greatest extent possible. If you can identify ways that your planned improvements and activities stand to boost revenue, reduce waste or increase productivity and back them up with sound statistical projections, you’re probably much more likely to find a willing audience for your request—and increase the chances of a favorable response.
If you need further ammunition, Gartner, the technology research and advisory company, released a 2013 report with suggestions for successfully defending IT budgets. But the way we see it, the best defense is a good offense, and more is usually better than less. So why not see if these ideas help you get past your next – or current – budgetary dry spell? It probably can’t hurt to try.