CXO

When it comes to tech budgets, it's time to make money matter

Complaining about not getting enough funding is the wrong response, says the Naked CIO.

So many people talk about how IT getting more funding would solve the world's and their businesses problems. But really it's time to stop complaining about a lack of money and start thinking about what to do with the money we do have.

IT is often seen by CEOs as fiscally irresponsible and a continuous and out-of-control spending department. Naturally when we ask for money there is skepticism: we live in a world where failed multi-million pound IT projects are front page news at an increasingly regular rate.

Quite honestly we need to demonstrate the ability to do more with less and develop fiscal credibility within our organizations.

Asking for more money should always be the last option, never the first. Credibility begins by ensuring your department and its costs are delivering appropriately to the organization's needs. It means taking suppliers to task and always getting the best rate. It means ensuring your staff are productive and properly distributed to meet the current priorities of the organization. It also means delivering projects on time and on budget and managing within your operational budget guidelines.

If you do this on a consistent basis you will develop a level of credibility that will then allow you to get what you ask for more easily because you are seen as a fiscally responsible leader. Too many IT leaders plan poorly and then fail to deliver critical projects and then have to ask for more money to salvage that failure, after which they have audacity to complain that they don't get enough funding from the business to achieve what needs to be done.

In 15 years of leading various IT departments I have never been over budget and have proudly demonstrated that I can manage IT needs without taking my oatmeal bowl and proclaiming 'Please Sir, may have some more?'

Would more money be useful? Absolutely. But I don't complain when I don't get it.

I buckle down, assess what needs to be achieved and then work to craft a plan that will allow me to achieve it - with the budget I am given.

I have forced vendors to buckle on costs when everyone told me it was impossible. I have sent letters to my primary suppliers asking for 15 percent reductions in support costs or they won't get renewed and it worked. I have reviewed resources to ensure that we were streamlined to deliver critical priorities and downsized areas where priorities weren't as critical.

I demand that everyone who works for me be productive and drive value and relentlessly root out those that don't. By doing these things I have developed and maintained credibility with my CEO and CFO and they no longer question costs when I bring them to the table.

That isn't to say they give me a blank check as it is never that easy. However, they don't question my financial proposals knowing I have already done the leg work that needs to be done. In addition, by ensuring my own house is in order I free up cash to spend where necessary and ensure nothing is wasted.

So it's time for IT chiefs to stop complaining and start acting like a leader of a significant organizational cost center and start being part of the solution - not the problem.

The Naked CIO is an anonymous technology executive.

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