Dec 21 2020

How Small Businesses Can Get Leadership Buy-In for IT

IT isn’t just about technology anymore, and department leaders need to be able to work with executives.

When it comes to business operations, IT is often viewed as a means to an end. Company leadership knows that things like computers and networking are necessities, but many put technology in the category of mandatory business costs, something that is a drag on the bottom line and can be downsized if the organization needs to cut corners.

This line of thinking can be tough for IT leaders to overcome, particularly for small businesses who have limited resources. If technology is viewed as merely the cost of doing business, an organization can miss out on new tools and solutions to empower the company to get to the next level.

As widespread remote work demonstrates how truly crucial IT can be, now is the time to push for IT to be brought into more senior-level conversations. It may take some convincing, but getting executive leadership to recognize the value of bringing IT to the decision-making table can lead to bigger, more impactful investments down the line that can improve productivity.

WATCH: Learn more about the intersection between technology and leadership.

Why IT Is Critical to Achieving Business Objectives

Some businesses view IT merely as a help desk, a place to go when applications aren’t responding or hardware isn’t working. However, when brought into the conversation early, IT can be a valuable asset to the company, providing means that enable the businesses to grow and thrive.

Particularly during the shift to remote work, it was the organizations that embraced technology that were able to best weather the storm. The effects of the pandemic have placed a bigger emphasis on productivity and adaptability, two things that are only possible through IT.

In a recent CDW Tech Talk, Chicago Bears Vice President for IT Justin Stahl said that getting involved in early decision-making made a big difference when it came to supporting the team through an unprecedented season. The team is already looking ahead to what it will need in order to do the same next year.

“We're starting to look ahead and say, probably come April, we're going to have another virtual NFL draft,” Stahl said. “So, we’re looking at the cycle of our business, starting with that NFL draft in a unique way, free agency in a unique way, and then through training camp.”

How to Present IT Investments to Executive Leadership

Any conversation about IT investment with senior leadership needs to begin with the right mindset. Decision-makers need to see IT as a partner in delivering business objectives rather than as an unavoidable cost the organization must put up with.

In another recent CDW Tech Talk, CDW Senior Vice President and CTO Sanjay Sood said that looking at IT as a business asset can help an organization move through hard times.

“It’s about developing new concepts and new products,” Sood said. “Then, how do we make technology automate everything around that? How do we make people more intelligent and have more time on their hands, so they can actually effectively drive business outcomes forward?”

Building this mindset can start with getting stakeholders on the business side involved early in the IT planning. Bringing in leaders from the departments that stand to gain the most from a particular IT investment can help build a coalition of stakeholders that want to see a particular investment made. 

When deciding which of these leaders to approach, think about the business as a whole. How does the organization generate revenue? What is needed to provide that? Which departments have the most direct impact on those operations? Answering these questions will help identify the decision-makers who should be approached.

As small businesses move through a world with more distributed workforces, it’s critical that IT be able to approach leadership effectively. IT isn’t just about technology anymore — it’s about working with executives to achieve business goals. The organizations that recognize IT as an asset are the ones that will move successfully through a digital future.

This article is part of BizTech's AgilITy blog series. Please join the discussion on Twitter by using the #SmallBizIT hashtag.

Agility_Logo_sized.jpg

alvarez/Getty Images