This topic comes up over and over with IT Directors I come into contact with.
Current EnvironmentThe problem is further exacerbated by the fact that, according to a Gartner CIO survey, since the 2002 dot-com bust IT budgets have been flat to negative and for 2013 are expected to shrink. IT departments must also wrestle with lean human resource allocations and nothing to speak of as far as the luxury of an IT team member who is well-versed in sales and marketing and can create the business case for a technology project.
The scenario I see over and over is that the IT team knows how to select a solution and plan a project that will have favorable ROI results for the company, but not the time/expertise to articulate it to leadership.
Needing a Paradigm ShiftWhat it really boils down to are the non-IT people (aka the Operations and Finance folks). More often than not they still view their company’s entire IT budget as pure cost, which is why they want to cut it every year because in their mind technology dollars, like keeping the lights on, the roof repaired and the trash taken out is all about minimizing cost. Just find the cheapest option and we’re good.
The truth is that while a portion of an IT budget is to keep the phones ringing and the computers booting, increasing percentages of IT budgets are really strategic spends, not cost at all. By recognizing and allocating strategic IT dollars they enable the IT team to find, select, and implement technology that will increase the overall productivity and efficiency of the entire organization. If spent correctly a strategic IT budget can mean that for every dollar spent, two or even three dollars can be realized in efficiency benefits.
Wearing Someone Else’s ShoesAs IT actions become more important to the strategic success of companies, the IT team needs to be better at communicating to other departments.
One example that comes to mind is a client, that I’ve been helping over the last couple of months, who was looking for a new messaging and collaboration system to replace their aging Exchange environment.
Google Apps for Business in this case) vs alternatives (a new Exchange server or Office365), a change management training plan, and a budget.
Because the right solution was chosen by the IT Director, the evidence that the analysis and collateral pointed to was a pretty straightforward “yes,” that the CFO was able to deliver with confidence, and the project was able to move forward.