Budgeting: Get More IT Value Through Insights
If you're seeking increases to your budget, you need to communicate the value delivered associated with that increase. But how can IT translate its operational data into actionable business insights, and how can these be turned into investments? Being outcome-driven and business-focused is a solid start to building your team’s budget.
Don't Present Data Without Context
Your team tends to be data-focused as opposed to insights-oriented. Data is often presented that suggests a need for budget increases without the necessary context or justification. Investments in budget tend to be awarded to revenue-generating departments or those oriented to growth. When an IT department cannot show where budget increases would either reduce overhead or improve profit, they’re left with the same (or smaller) budget to work with. It’s not enough for your team to simply show their data; you need to be able to use the data to create insights.
Prove Your Value
Raising your budget often requires some marketing skill. You need to prove the value of your department and show how budget increases would benefit the larger organization. As with advertising text: keep it short and sweet. While volumes of data may indeed prove your point, no one wants to sift through countless pages numbers and facts. People want to know exactly where their money will go and why it will be an improvement on current operations. Approach it as a very brief white paper: present your current challenges, the solution, and how budget expansion will help.
Tell the Reader a Story
Everyone loves a story. Think of your budget increase request as a story to tell, with the reader at the other end of your report in mind. His or her primary goals are business growth, right? Your budget usually get ignored– or worse, slashed– because it doesn’t directly generate revenue, but everyone knows IT support is critical for business operations. You need to concisely show just how your teams supports the organization and its business goals, and how much more support it could offer if the budget were increased. Be compelling in your story-telling; it increases the likelihood of hooking your reader.
Don't Let Them Draw Their Own Conclusions
It may seem as though your story comes to an obvious end, but it's important to be clear about the conclusions you want to convey: a budget increase is necessary in order to achieve A, B, and C for the organization. Think about the big picture, just as the people in charge of your organization’s budget do: your story impacts the business as a whole. Aim to aggressively advocate for your department; all areas of the business are fighting over the same piece of the pie. You will need to fight the hardest.
Increasing (and even maintaining) your budget may seem like a tiresome task, but it's a critical part of creating and maintaining a functioning team– and ultimately strengthening the business. Don't trust pages of facts and data to do your work for you. By demonstrating critical business insights and mapping IT's role in revenue generation for those in charge of your budget, you put your team in a better position to grow.