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  • Writer's pictureNate Payne

How to Defend Your IT Budget…and Win



You’re an accomplished IT leader with an impressive resume of increasing responsibility. A proven manager of people, processes, and technology. Yet, every year when budget season rolls around major battles erupt.

You need to secure a budget that will allow you to run IT the right way; in a way that will help protect and position the company for future success. However, business stakeholders seem determined to reduce or eliminate as many line-items as possible, while at the same time increasing their demands on IT.

Why do business stakeholders insist on treating IT like a cost center, questioning everything you say and do? There’s a perfectly good reason. It’s not that they don’t respect you. It’s not that they don’t care about IT. It’s not that they don’t like you. Well, maybe they don’t like you, who knows. 😊

The truth is they simply do not understand how your IT plan and budget are linked to the success or failure of the things that THEY care about. Put another way, they care about IT to the extent that they understand what’s in it for them.

You’re getting pushback because you haven’t yet established an emotional connection to your budget or plan. That’s why statistics, white papers, case studies, infographics, and best-practice frameworks will never persuade them. All those things get processed by the left side of the brain, and emotion is a right-brained thing.

If you want to be seen as a strategic leader — a true business partner. If you want a seat at the table. If you want business stakeholders practically falling over themselves to fund your next IT budget, you MUST connect every technology recommendation and budget line-item to a business outcome that they feel strongly about. Something that really matters to them. A high-priority business goal or initiative.

Now, it may be true that senior leadership at your company isn’t very tech savvy. But that makes it even more important that you speak in a language that they will understand. Try using terms like — technology dependencies, percentage of contribution, degree of dependency, current state of IT, capabilities, weighting, hierarchies, and priorities — to justify your budget.

Framing the conversation in this way quantifies the discussion and helps neutralize the power dynamic that often exists between IT and the C-suite when having tough conversations. It also provides senior leadership with the clarity needed to fully understand what they’re saying yes to, and what they’re saying no to.

Meaning, they are not saying yes or no to a new piece of hardware or software, or some new security solution. They are saying yes or no to the business goals and initiatives that directly, or indirectly, rely on those hardware, software, or security solutions for success.

When business stakeholders can gain clarity and understanding around business-technology relationships and dependencies in a functional context, it becomes much easier to build consensus and get buy-in for your IT plan and budget. All of which leads to radically better business outcomes.




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