CIOs: 10 ways to get your controversial project approved

From speaking the right language to knowing how colleagues make their bonus...

...utility provider will determine how seriously the proposal is taken, according to Gliedman.

"Sometimes the work that is involved in getting the new and innovative project approved has to take place over the years before that project comes up. The CIO has to build up that level of credibility," he said.

8.Step out of the CFO's shadow

CIOs that operate at sub-board level and report to the CFO need to come out from under the finance chief's shadow if they want to understand the business and have a hope of proposing an innovative project that addresses business needs, said Quocirca's Longbottom.

"The vast majority of CFOs in this country are still the ones who think, 'Don't spend so much, batten down the hatches, we'll save our way through this crisis', so they're saying to the CIO to do more with less and that is just a crazy way to do things," he said.

Unless the CIO sits on the board they are unlikely to be presented with the business problems and will instead be presented with the financial problems. This leaves little room for the CIO to propose IT projects that could play a strategic role in the success of the business.

CIOs who report to the CFO should get into meetings with other executives and line managers to get a better understanding of the problems the business faces and propose IT projects that tackle these problems.

9. Get a business sponsor

According to Brinley Platts, chairman of executive coaching organisation CIO Development, the main challenge facing CIOs who want to get an innovative project approved is that the rest of the business does not believe they have a compelling business case.

"This most often arises because the CIO is acting without full business buy-in," Platts told

"IT of itself can never create value - this is business/IT 101."

Getting someone within the business to back up your project before you make your proposal to the CEO and other executives is therefore important as it shows that your project solves actual business problems and has been designed with the business at the fore.

"You need to have a business sponsor for any technology initiative that touches the business," Forrester's Gliedman said.

CIOs should "socialise" the idea by going to business managers and finding out how the proposed project could help them achieve their business goals and objectives, Gliedman added.

10. A cheeky final tip...

Finally, CIOs should consider how they can appeal to what motivates their colleagues the most.

"The best way to appeal to a business person is to understand what that business person needs to do to make their bonus," Gliedman said.

"If I can help you make your bonus then I am your friend. If what I am suggesting does not help you make your bonus, I am either noise or opportunity cost."

By knowing how they can help their colleagues achieve their goals, CIOs can frame the project proposal in terms that relate directly to the needs of their partners.