How to Get Management Buy-In on Tech Upgrades

IT leaders must frame the need in business terms, find allies and underscore the costs of failure.

We’re living in heady days when it comes to business investment in IT. Corporate leaders understand better than ever that having the right technology in place is essential to achieving their business objectives, and that the need for technology upgrades, especially around security and digital transformation projects, has never been greater.

That’s why IT spending will hit $3.7 trillion worldwide this year, an increase of 6.2 percent, and will keep growing next year, according to Gartner. In fact, “The Digital Transformation Insight Report” by CDW found that 86 percent of organizations have initiated or piloted technology changes to support digital transformations.

Yet surveys of IT leaders continue to indicate that they’d be doing even more were it not for budget limitations. In a recent survey by Tech Pro Research, for example, 54 percent of IT leaders identified budget constraints to be a top digital transformation ­challenge, while 47 ­percent also cited ­difficulties in getting management buy-in for projects.

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Prepare for Common IT Questions in Advance

Most IT leaders know that making their case in business (rather than technical) terms gives them the best chance of ­getting their projects approved. But how can they get there?

When proposing a new project, the IT leader will likely face most or all of the following questions, so have answers for them in advance:

  • Will the project help the company make more money? How?
  • Will it help the company spend less money — at least over time?
  • Will it help the business improve the customer experience? In what way?
  • Will it change the way the business’s employees work?
  • How will the upgrade help the company reduce or manage risk?

Once the opportunity is clear, it’s important to map it back to the company’s objectives. A business that’s satisfied with its work environment, for example, may not be ready for an ambitious digital workspace solution. But if the need is to upgrade customer experiences and mine more and better data about those customers, now might be the time to make the case for software-defined networking.

Mike Grisamore
Most IT leaders know that making their case in business rather than technical terms gives them their best change of getting their projects approved."

Mike Grisamore Vice President of Small Business Sales, CDW

Partner with Non-IT Departments and Staff

Non-IT colleagues are crucial in helping tech leaders understand the business’s challenges and can be helpful in testing certain solutions. Yet some IT departments fail to engage enough of their coworkers in the process. Not only will greater involvement lead to better solutions, it will also produce more enthusiasm for potential upgrades and help IT leaders find more champions for their projects. In turn, those champions can help get new solutions approved and more widely adopted by coworkers.

In fact, partnering with other departments may free up new budget dollars, making the approval process that much easier.

Once the marketing department understands all it can do with the customer data that a new business intelligence solution will yield, for example, it may be happy to help fund the solution with part of its own budget.

Emphasize the Cost of Failure

Keeping the business informed of the risks it faces if it fails to get technology right is part of a technology leader’s job. And a good time to do that is when ­advocating for a needed solution.

This is clear when pitching a security upgrade. But what about when suggesting a new data center? In such cases, it’s up to IT leadership to quantify how the business is negatively affected by a data center that’s no longer meeting its needs.

Organizations continue to dedicate more dollars to tech upgrades, but budget will likely always be among the top ­barriers to digital transformation. IT leaders should consider it a core responsibility to effectively advocate for their desired projects — because, in no small measure, their successes are their ­organizations’ successes.

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littlehenrabi/Getty Images
Nov 06 2018

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