Three Tips for Avoiding a Budget Crisis

By Paul Mandell  |  Posted 04-29-2014 Print Email

These methods could increase the odds of the budget process going more smoothly in the future and yielding more of the resources needed to best-serve the business.

Project planning

By Paul Mandell

The IT department’s impact permeates every aspect of a business, facilitating the work of the other departments, as well as protecting every element of the business from a growing universe of sophisticated threats. Given its broad scope, IT is an extremely resource-dependent department. Without enough of the right products and services, IT cannot properly fulfill its critical mandate. However, in an environment of ever-strained corporate budgets, these necessary resources are often difficult to acquire and protect. As a result, CIOs must be proactive in leveraging every opportunity to support their own needs and, by doing so, support the IT needs of the entire organization.

Here are three tips to help CIOs ensure that their department receives and retains the resources they need to serve their business well.

1) Consistently keep executives informed. When your superiors do not understand your work or the connection between your work and the rest of the business, they have insufficient context to recognize the products and services required by the IT team. To avoid such a scenario, you must communicate your department’s current short- and long-term projects, as well as their impact on the day-to-day work of the rest of the business. Provide this information either through formal memoranda or simply via informal updates. You must also communicate your vision for IT, and help draw the connection between where you plan to take IT and future success of the broader organization. Finally, be sure to ask enough questions of your colleagues in other departments to help align your vision with where others hope to take the business. When presented with a clear picture of how IT can optimize the rest of the business with the right resources—from reducing expenses through automation to accelerating revenue growth by making sales teams more efficient—most senior corporate leadership happily support the needs of IT.

2) Build allies throughout the organization. When seeking to preserve or add resources to your IT department, you have no greater potential assets or liabilities than your senior colleagues in other departments. The support of these executives is incredibly powerful as having other organizational stakeholders making the case for supporting IT lends weight to your vision, as well as credence to your ability to use those resources effectively. To develop this support, take a clear and genuine interest in the needs of your senior colleagues, and be proactive in identifying opportunities for IT to better support them. By doing so, you will likely find yourself with more allies when budget season comes around and better access to the resources you need.

3) Develop a comprehensive advocacy strategy. No matter how well you communicate with senior leadership or build support from other areas of the business, you are unlikely to receive the resources you need without an active advocacy strategy. Start by working to construct a positive image of the IT department—one with a history of reliability and productivity that serves as a model for other departments. Then couple this branding effort with your vision of a more efficient, productive IT department and company to ask specifically for the resources required to achieve your goals. In asking for what you need, be sure to use actual historical financial figures, as well as projected financials for the department and company as best you can, to justify your requests and make it easy for the CFO and CEO to grant them.

Procuring and protecting the resources that you need is typically an arduous and stressful prospect, particularly when your department is often viewed as a cost center. However, following these methods could well increase the chances of the budget process going more smoothly in the future and yielding more of the resources that you require to serve the business well.

About the Author

Paul Mandell is the founder & CEO of Consero Group. To read his previous CIO Insight article, "Three Ways CIOs Can Ensure Better Communication," click here. 



 

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