Genie in the Lamp

A Magical Trinity – Ask and You Shall Receive

Genie in the LampIn discussions with end users, I’m often asked how they should put together a case for getting funding for a particular project.  For example, in networking, I may get a question along the lines of, “Hey, I’d love to get a chance to try out multi-lambda fiber with MPLS to carry H.264 video traffic prioritized over data — how can I get the business to stump up the money for it?”

Biting back the urge to play back a recording of what has been said to me and just say “There’s your problem,” I would proffer the following advice:

The business should have no real interest in technology.  If it can get where it needs to go using soup cans and pieces of string, it should do so.  A business is not there to support or embrace technology; it is there to make money – and this applies even if the organization is a not-for-profit or a charity.

No, there are only three things an organization should worry about.  If you can create messages supporting your project that encompass these, then you should be closer to getting to the money.

1) Risk.  Organizations want to lower the risks to the business (and to the board members at a personal level). If you can show how your technology can lower risk at a business level, particularly with regard to Governance, Regulatory and Compliance (GRC), the board will listen.

2) Cost. The big issue, as far as many at board-level are concerned.  If something has an overall cost, then you are already on the losing end of the discussions.  Therefore, don’t use terminology such as total cost of ownership (TCO) — this has connotations of an ongoing cost against the organization’s bottom line.  Any technology should be capable of demonstrably removing cost from the processes that it impacts — this is what the business is interested in, as this adds to the bottom line.

3) Value. Slightly more ephemeral, but just as important.  What is it the business wants to do?  Your technology should help this happen, whether it is selling more of what the organization already sells at the same or greater margin, or if it is bringing a new product or service to market at a good enough margin.

So what would this mean for the project mooted in the first paragraph?

Risk: By utilizing quality and prioritization of service, existing applications will not be impacted and so business services such as cyclical reporting and application availability will be maintained.

Cost: The capability to carry video streams at a high level of fidelity without the video or sound going out of sync or juddering would allow more of the organization’s meetings to be carried out over video conferencing, so lowering the costs of these meetings due to travel and loss of working time.

Value: By using prioritization, the technology will be more flexible to respond to the business’ needs as it changes its strategy to reflect what is happening in the markets, so ensuring that new business campaigns will not require lengthy planning, developing and testing at the technology level.

Obviously, there will be a need to quantify some of these areas — and I’m not in a position to help you here.  However, concentrating on these three simple areas should give anyone the needed foundation for creating a business-focused proposal as to why a technology project should be funded by the business.

For those old enough to remember radio terminology, the three areas can be easily remembered.  Just ask, and you shall RCV.

Image credit: JD Hancock (website)

About the author
Clive Longbottom