So, you think your business could benefit from changes to your IT. Maybe you think your business could benefit from Managed Services. How do you convince your leadership team to buy into IT?
This is not always an easy process as you are likely challenging your leadership team’s preexisting notions that IT is a set it and forget it system that is revisited every couple of years, or better yet, when something breaks. Pitching IT as a continuous investment that actively works for your business will be a challenge.
But we are here to help.
If you are looking to convince your business leadership to invest in IT, specifically Managed Services, you need to ask yourself a few questions:
- What information does your leadership need to make an informed decision?
- What do you need to understand about your leadership’s outlook on IT?
- And finally, how do you present all this information to leadership in a convincing way?
Let’s start from the beginning.
What Does Your Leadership Team Need to Understand?
This step will take some additional research on your end for both the problem and the solution.
Do your research to understand the problems posed by your current IT set-up. What is working? What is not? What areas of your IT environment need the most attention?
Don’t be afraid to ask your coworkers these questions, so you can provide information that pertains to the company as a whole, not just you and your department. Taking the time to understand these problems will also help you research solutions.
You do not want to walk into your meeting with higher-ups and only discuss problems. You want to bring them solutions that benefit the company. Here are some common starting points for discovering all the advantages a technology solution may bring to your business:
- Can this solution eliminate duplicate expenses, or even eliminate paper expenses?
- Is there a single solution—such as Office 365—that will eliminate the need for other subscriptions?
- Does this solution boost efficiency or cut lengthy steps from recurring processes?
- Does this solution make life easier for the people completing these tasks?
- Does this solution significantly expand the capabilities of your team—and what’s the monetary value of these added capabilities?
When you recommend a solution—or maybe solutions—make sure you have all the information so you are prepared to answer any questions your leadership team may ask. This includes knowing how the solution solves the problems you outlined, offering cost comparisons, and addressing any benefits this solution provides to the business. Do not just provide a hypothetical argument, provide data and facts to show the research that backs your recommendation.
For example, if you decide to pitch Managed Services as a solution, do your research into potential providers, what plans they offer, and be ready to explain how a potential provider solves the problems within your IT environment. When you provide thorough research, leadership is more inclined to take your recommendation seriously.
What Do You Need to Understand About Your Leadership?
Leadership tends to focus on the old, centralized model of IT which often fails to integrate new resources into their overall perspective of IT within the organization. Meanwhile, many of the new IT resources are decentralized and appear as departmental resources tied more specifically to missions within that department.
Traditionally, IT leadership was responsible for creating the budget for all things IT. The new paradigm calls for participation from across the organization. Operations, finance, sales, marketing, production, HR, and legal, to name a few, all have needs.
Sadly, in many organizations, leadership may still be a little behind the times. Their deep experience and organizational history are extremely valuable, but they may not truly understand the rapid and drastic transformations in the IT landscape over the last few years. They probably hold a more traditional frame-of-reference where IT is acquired as a capital expense every three to five years. The concept of IT as an operational expense, or a subscription, may be unfamiliar to them.
A good place to start is understanding how leadership applies a uniform set of standards and practices to assess if investments are healthy. Before creating and scheduling your pitch, put yourself in their shoes. What would you want to know before making an investment?
How Do You Convince Leadership to Invest in IT?
Changing your leadership’s outlook on IT as an investment starts with education. The C-level executives do not need to be turned into IT experts, but they do need to understand the modern IT world. Leaders that have been in roles for a while are frequently out of date. They need to understand that the traditional CIS/MIS models from a decade ago no longer apply.
Once you’ve done your research and understand how your leadership approaches IT, schedule a meeting to pitch your findings. Your presentation should clearly convey your problems, your solution, and how they fit into the modern IT landscape.
During the presentation you want to give demonstrations, explain resource requirements, and dive into the return on investment if possible. Remember that your business leadership looks at investments differently than those who run the tools. You will most likely be challenging their view of IT as a capital expense rather than an operational expense, so being financially literate will help you better communicate with the higher-ups. You also want to clearly lay out how different departments across your organization will feel the positive effects of a new IT landscape. Make sure you reframe IT as an investment that benefits the entire company rather than just a cost.
Reframe the Benefits
When pitching IT to business leadership, keep in mind that not every IT investment can be broken down into a Return-on-Investment model. If this is the case for your proposal, you will need to reframe your solution, so the benefits outweigh the cost from a leadership perspective.
Think carefully about the more obvious and less obvious ways a specific technology expense can have an impact on the bottom line:
- A security-related IT expense could cut down your cybersecurity insurance premium.
- A more expensive Office 365 or Google Workspace subscription could eliminate the need to pay for separate services like Survey Monkey or Zoom.
- An end-user technology training software could eliminate support tickets opened with your helpdesk.
Weigh the costs and benefits to your leadership, and they may just be ready to jump on board with your solution.
If you are pitching a technology solution like Managed Services to your business leadership, you may want to focus on the cost of downtime. There are two types of downtime that Managed Services can help you solve.
First, let’s talk about regular downtime—when major servers or systems go offline. When employees do not have access to the technology necessary to do their jobs, the company is paying them not to work and losing additional money in opportunity costs from their decreased output. For example, an employee in sales is getting paid during the downtime, but they also cannot use this time to generate leads. ITIC’s 2020 Global Server Hardware and Server OS Reliability Survey found that for 88% of respondents, one hour of downtime cost their company over $300,000. That averages to about $4,998 per minute per server lost.
Now let’s talk about another type of downtime—when individual users are unable to access their systems due to knowledge gaps or device and account problems. If your user doesn’t know how to reset their password, they don’t have access to important accounts and can’t do their job. Your business is losing money on that user’s diminished productivity while they wait for someone to assist them, and you’re paying an employee on your IT staff to stop working on their existing project load to walk them through the process. This is a much smaller cost to your business than traditional downtime but multiply the cost of this single incident across all your users a few times per month, and you’d be surprised at the outcome.
This is an example of a typically unseen cost that can be particularly compelling to your business leadership when you attach a monetary value to it and track how often it affects your organization.
Can your business withstand the recurring cost of downtime? Maybe it can, but it shouldn’t have to. An MSP frees a company from downtime by providing regular maintenance and a helpdesk for users who experience trouble with their IT. Companies make money when their employees can work, making downtime a hefty cost to incur. When pitching Managed Services to your boss, compare the costs of both types of downtime for your company to the monthly cost of Managed Services.
After your pitch you need to stay involved in the conversation. Be prepared to answer questions and offer clarifications. Remember that this is a collaborative conversation. You provided a starting point, and now you need to work with your leadership team to further develop your solution, decide on steps for implementation, or even alter your solution to better fit the company’s needs.
Throughout your pitch and the following discussion, clearly align the benefits of your solution with the overall organizational mission. The more you can show the organizational benefits, and not make it appear like a pet project, the more interest you’ll garner.
After the Pitch
So, now you’ve convinced the higher-ups of your solution and they are ready to move into implementation. Effective communication between all stakeholders will be the key to success. It’s imperative that leadership and each solution leader understand the interdependencies between the various IT initiatives. Have regularly scheduled meetings that focus on education, investment, and contribution to ensure your leadership understands the significance of investing in their IT.
This is not an easy transition for department heads or senior leadership. It’s hard to break old habits and new technologies can be overwhelming. The more we can re-train ourselves to look at the changing world of IT, the more prepared we can be to provide effective leadership.
If you need help convincing your boss that IT is worth the investment, we are here to help. Contact PEI today to get started with your IT buy-in.
Tim Krueger, PEI