A white bag with a dollar sign stuffed with an unknown material laying on the ground.
PHOTO: Paul Birnie

Turns out, CIOs have a lot on their minds. They want to improve change leadership and management. They want to enable organization and strategy alignment, drive innovation/increase relevance of IT, enable digital inclusion/equity/accessibility, establish thought leadership to drive digital transformation. They also want to reduce tech debt, improve data analytics/data quality, kill the data center and change the supply chain digitization.

And those are just some of the priorities this year for information technology leaders, according to a report from CIO.com. Of course, these leaders need money to do this. Gartner found last fall that worldwide IT spending is projected to total $3.8 trillion this year, an increase of 3.2 percent from expected spending of $3.7 trillion in 2018. How can you convince your organization your IT teams deserve a chunk of that change? We caught up with three CIOs who shared ways and means for securing funds for important IT company projects. 

Align Project Needs With Organizational Mission

Stacey Blissett-Saavedra
Stacey Blissett-Saavedra

Stacey Blissett-Saavedra, CIO of the New York City Commission on Human Rights, had an application project on her mind earlier this year. She needed funds, naturally. The IT team was able to successfully secure capital funding for the application project, which she said will change the way several departments at the agency conducts business. “This approval of funds came by working with the business to constantly advocate for the technical needs for these departments,” Blissett-Saavedra told CMSWire. “We collaborated internally and externally to create a robust business plan that allowed the budget team to understand the benefit of financing these solutions.”

Perhaps most important above all? Blissett-Saavedra said she ensured that the applications project was aligned with her organization’s strategic plan and mission. “This formed a narrative that resonated with the executive team who provided the support needed to gain these funds,” she said. 

Answer This: Why Does This Matter?

Headshot of Colleen Berube
Colleen Berube

When recommending any IT investment, outline it in the context of business impact and to communicate needs based on why it matters to the enterprise, as opposed to focusing only on cost of the project or investment required, according to Colleen Berube, chief information officer at Zendesk. “As technology leaders,” Berube added, “it's our job to understand the business impact desired, and then outline what's required from a technology perspective to achieve those outcomes. After the business need is determined, you want to be clear about the measurable value it brings, such as increased traffic or conversion rate, reduction in cost or improved productivity.” 

Related Article: Dallas Tech Leader on Blockchain, AI and the CIO's Evolving Role

Provide Options, Embrace Input

A key tip to help when you are bringing forward investment proposals is to provide options, Berube said. Decision makers want to know their choices. Often, they want to feel that they are part of the process, she said. “Many times you can make progress by being willing to progress with one of several viable options versus presenting one path to a solution," Berube said.

Appreciate that there are considerations you may not see from your vantage point, and that it’s OK, she said. “That's why it's important to bring options forward and lead thoughtfully with the ability to get creative and tackle a problem from different angles,” Berube said.

Related Article: 6 Digital Transformation Challenges Enterprises Need to Overcome

Communicate IT Wins Throughout the Year

Headshot of Anudeep Parhar
Anudeep Parhar

Securing faith and trust in your IT team is a good place to start. Don’t wait until your next budget proposal to share your team’s achievements with the C-suite, said Anudeep Parhar, CIO of Entrust Datacard. Keep team morale and company recognition up by communicating team wins regularly. 

Parhar recommends sending a bi-weekly company email highlighting your team wins. It’s an “easy and efficient way to demonstrate momentum and keep your team's progress top of mind year round,” he said. Meanwhile, try nominating team members to speak at industry conferences to gain external exposure for your team. 

Bottom Line: Demonstrate Improved Business Outcomes

To avoid falling behind the competition, IT teams must explore emerging industry trends early and often. “However,” Parhar said, “your CFO is unlikely to increase your IT budget without seeing a clear connection between the investment and improved business outcomes: such as growth, productivity, compliance or risk.”