Have you ever been frustrated or wondered why the solution you championed wasn’t funded? During our podcast interview with C-level IT Executives we identified ten tactics to improve your success at getting funding approval for your project.
1. Account for the time value of money.
Will the same amount have to be spent every year? What is the life cycle of the solution and the total cost of ownership? How does spending on this project now reduce costs and spending later? Don’t underestimate the cost of staff to operate the solution.
2. Relate project outcomes directly to business impacts.
Allen Ingram points out in our podcast interview that you should “know as much as you possible can about the company you are working with.” Have you been out in the field? How is this going to impact customers? How does this affect service level expectations and agreements? You may find that your infrastructure project has a better chance of getting funded when its tied to the outcome of a business project.
3. Communicate clearly.
Proposals or pitches that are poorly worded, misspelled, or run-ons give the impression that your ideas may not be well thought out. Quality written and verbal communication is essential, particularly the Executive summary. It must be concise, convincing, and supported with facts.
Have a trusted colleague review your proposal before you submit it. Practice your pitch in the mirror. Practice technical and business writing on a regular basis. Get involved in proposals. Write a blog. Try out for business plan pitch competitions. The skills you hone will only make your more savvy and successful in your career.
4. Consider the relative importance of your project.
Money is a finite material resource. Appraise the deferred, ongoing, and planned projects that your department or team budget is responsible for. How does the priority of your project stack-up in the context of all the others? Is it in the top three? If not you should have a plan B in case funding to your project is cut due to cost overruns of the top three.
5. Reference relevant industry standard data.
Keeping up with competitors is a powerful motivator. Do you know what the average IT budget is in your market segment? Do you know how much organizations like yours spend on technology or security? If not, do some research. There are a lot of good resources online, but consider talking with a business librarian at your county or regional library. Many expensive databases and reports are accessible from major libraries.
While every organization and network is unique, a good business analyst knows the right approximations to obtain accurate estimates from industry average data. Including the right data in your proposal makes it easier for your business leader to make a decision.
6. Avoid surprises.
Many executives more receptive to proposals and plans submitted through the annual budgeting or strategic planning processes. Collect utilization telemetry and regularly forecast needs.
Address risk management in every proposal or pitch you make. Consider the cost of unplanned downtime of the technology your group operates. Since 2011 our industry has known the average cost of unplanned network outages can exceed $5,000 per minute.
7. Remind decision makers what your portfolio has done for the business lately.
Demonstrate the value of the products and services your group manages. Include measurable outcomes. Do so on a regular basis.
8. Don’t cry wolf.
Don’t use fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) every time you sell a project. Don’t say its absolutely necessary if its not true. Once your violate organizations trust its really hard to earn it back.
9. Be open to alternatives suggested by your technology leaders.
There is a reason why CTO, CIO, CSOs are leaders. Even though they do not program firewalls for your organization, they may have been there before and have a wealth of experience. Chances are they have come across solutions you never heard of.
10. Bring finance to the table.
Strategic and expensive projects have a big impact on finance. There are many important financial considerations outside of your traditional budget OPEX and CAPEX. Cash flow, quarterly earnings, and many other factors are top of mind for your CFO. As Johnathan Feldman stressed during our podcast interview, “don’t tell finance how to do finance,” When the time is right, bring finance to the table. Be prepared with alternates that can navigate financial road blocks.