When it comes to IT funding, many of the CIO’s I talk to are at a loss for why they continue to lose the IT funding battle. Whether the battle is over keeping existing funding levels during budget cuts or securing additional IT funding for operations or IT projects doesn’t seem to matter. When you think you are underfunded it is always hard to be told ‘No’.
Reason #1: Budget Mindset
Your orientation towards IT funding reflects a budget mindset and the thinking of an overhead cost center manager.
IT funding requests must be wrapped in the language of the value IT delivers to the organization. If your IT value proposition is a weak or your struggle to articulate it, you will make very little progress on IT funding until you develop a value orientation to IT.
Reason #2: You’re Not Presidential
Your approach to IT funding does not reflect your president’s or CEO’s big picture view of the priorities of the organization and the politics of balancing competing interests.
You have to find a way to approach your IT funding strategy the same way your president would. Start by looking for the WIFM that your president will require as will the competing interests.
Reason #3: No Business Case
Each of your requests for incremental operating funding or project specific IT funding doesn’t establish a clear business case to support the funding request.
Don’t stop working on your IT funding proposal until you have a compelling business case and cost benefit analysis to share with your audience. To make your business case compelling you need two ingredients.
- You must have a compelling story that speaks to the value that will be created in terms that connect directly with the organization’s priorities. This may mean it has to be part business and part emotionally targeted.
- You must have a comprehensive financial analysis of the capital and operating requirements on the expense side along with the revenues and savings to be gained. IN other words you need a defensible ROI which likely will account for the hard and soft dollar sides of each.
Reason #4: Poor Track Record
IT has failed to deliver the promised value of previous initiatives or failed to properly project the true cost or benefits of the project or additional operating funds.
It’s probably time to adjust your tactics. Instead of lobbying for the project or funding requirement you think is most important, consider focusing on the one that you are most likely to hit a home run on that also produces the most noticeable value for someone other than IT.
I am not describing a low hanging fruit approach, I am suggesting you pick something you can’t screw up that your CFO and peers would agree was money well spent.
Reason #5: It’s Just Not Strategic
More often than not, the reason you can’t get the additional IT funding you want is because it is just not the most important thing to be done with the funds.
If you fold all of the ideas from above together you will create for yourself an alternative view of securing the additional IT funding you seek. Focus on what matters to your boss or boss’s boss. Most of the time those are the things that take away their pain or get them broad recognition .
Try imagining how you could parlay any one of your funding needs in a way to get one of those classic photo ops of your president shaking hands or giving/receiving an award or donation.
IT Funding Secret
But if you really want to be sure your IT funding needs are strategic, go find a non-IT sponsor to champion your initiative. Maybe you loved my post on Becoming a CIO Rainmaker and need the additional funds for a project that will increase revenue, then get the CFO to sponsor the initiative and secure the funding. Increase first year student retention, then get the counseling department, dean or student affairs to champion the initiative.
In pursuing this strategy you may learn just how weak the organization views your linkages between more bandwidth or a new SAN and what matters most to them and what they are willing to stick their necks out to support.
In the end though, this will accelerate your learning and shift your mindset to be more strategic when you consider IT funding needs.