Infrastructure is never anyone's favorite budgetary item. I think we can all agree on that. It is critical that you continue to do so or in the end you spend way more than you would have if you simply kept up with it. IT infrastructure is no different. How do you get your board on board?
To understand whether you should consider an item for budget is easy. You just have to ask your self three questions.
-Will it increase productivity?
-Will it make us money?
-Will it save us money?
If you said no to all three, then it probably isn't the right time. If you said yes to any of these than you should consider budgeting. You then have to ask yourself "what is my return on investment or ROI?" Why? This will be the first question your board is going to ask.
Almost a decade ago, my team and I had to develop a plan to replace a thirty year old telephone system. Our board felt it was necessary but didn't think we could afford to replace it at that time. We were ready. We had to develop complete plan. This part is critical. Research, research, research. Get demos. Get pricing. Don't get sold. If the demos and pricing are viable, invite shareholders to see the product. The more people you have behind a budgetary item, the easier the final sell will be.
Develop a report showing how you are going save/make money. For us, we were spending lots of money on hardware and having dozens of dropped calls. Messages weren't going to the right mailbox. This was an easy report to produce. The more calls you answer, the more prospective customers you will have.
To increase my team's esteem, I reached out to our chairman's top IT manager for advice. He was happy to help. We presented him with the reason to move the system over to what was then new technology in a cloud based phone system. He agreed with us. It's important to remember, I didn't so much need his advice as much as his blessing.
The next step was showing why this bleeding edge technology was the right choice at the right time. We put together a simple one sheet spreadsheet that was easy to read. The report clearly and easily showed why this solution was better than the rest. We provided a capital cost, a five year cost, yearly maintenance and equipment, and features. Altogether we had nine different options on the table including a very inexpensive, slight upgrade to our POTS system. We covered all avenues. POTS (Plain old telephone system), VOIP (Voice over internet protocol), and cloud. At the presentation we pushed the system we wanted but also gave credence to the other options. In the end, we thanked the board for their consideration.
A few months later we installed our system which is still in use today. The keys to success are:
-Research, Research, Research
-Get stakeholders on board
-Develop a ROI form
In the end technology is just like any other budget item. Show the need and show the profit, Bottom line speaks louder than anything else.