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How to Communicate Your IT Budget, Part IV

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Step Four – Presenting the Budget With the work you accomplished in the previous steps, it is time present the budget.

In all but the smallest organizations, standardize approaches for submitting and presenting budgets are mandated. These approaches may include spreadsheets, online tools, and presentation templates.

A common goal is to produce submissions that are consistent with respect to organization and content. They also provide a way to ensure critical issues are addressed. For example, how each group will manage / be impacted by growth, potential reductions, or other significant events.
Show Time Presenting an Information Technology (IT) budget can be challenging. The forces driving IT costs are not always understood, and even more fundamentally, the very essence of IT is often unclear to executives.

Other factors can complicate the effort. As previously discussed, costs might be held by organizations outside of IT. This can make it difficult to calculate the organi…

How to Communicate Your IT Budget, Part III

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Step Three – The Unveiling  With the work you accomplished in step one and two, it is time to begin focusing on communication. Specifically, how the budget is built, the primary drivers, and validation.
Focus on the Core Elements I like to begin by going back to the key elements picture from Step 1:


Take time to walk through each circle on the diagram above. Doing so allows you to establish a standard vocabulary with your audience while illustrating your primary budget drivers.

Be sensitive to local conventions and vernacular; consider adjusting your own when necessary. Avoid unproductive discussion about terminology whenever possible, the goal is to arrive at a common and informed view.

As a side note, one of the benefits of previewing the budget, as discussed in the Validation section of Step Two, is to identify and resolve many, if not all, these issues early in the process.
Assembling the Pieces With the essential core elements driving the IT budget defined, it is time to show…

How to Communicate Your IT Budget, Part II

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Building the Budget The precise mechanics you use to develop the budget is beyond the scope of this article, but I will address some key practices I think are worth incorporating in your approach. Clearly Define Ownership Begin with a core issue: how does the organization handle IT expenses?  Are IT expenses centralized within one budget or decentralized?    Seldom is this a black-and-white answer, but a detailed understanding is critical. 
Consider for example service subscriptions.  Imagine your finance organization uses a service to help with state income tax rates or expense reporting.  Do they budget for that service?  Does that service index for headcount, does it include support, and how are IT costs impacted by that service?
Almost every area of the organization can have embedded IT expenditures, often without the budget owner's recognition.  Even IT can suffer the same issue, consider all the small "tools" developers and system administrators leverage.  Anothe…

How to Communicate Your IT Budget, Part I

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In many organizations, Information Technology (IT) represents a  significant portion of the overall budget.  In fact, IT is typically among the top expenditures.  Consequently, this budgetary prominence drives a corresponding level of scrutiny by management; an exercise that is often found to be time-consuming and frustrating for all concerned.

Much is written about capturing the value of IT and leveraging processes to ensure value-delivery.  Organizational cultures typically dictate the overall budget process.  During my career, I have labored under many of these systems; each has their advantages and disadvantages.  

I am going to leave the overarching budget process for others to debate; the focus here is on how to communicate and sell your budget.  

Your budget proposal needs to be communicate in a manner that will resonate with executive charged with approving the budget.  In my experience, this is where the process fails.  

As with many issues, ineffective communication is frequentl…

Defining the IT Roadmap in Life Science - Part III

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Welcome to part three of this blog series, click here for a link to Part One or here for Part Two.

Before beginning a prioritization process, it is essential to align the organization on how decisions will be made. Specifically, on the criteria used to evaluate and rank projects across the organization. The criteria is often derived from both internal and external drivers.
Internal drives typically include factors such as financial resources, staff availability, pending transformations (e.g. M&As). I also advise looking carefully at the organization's ability to adsorb additional change.
External drivers typical involve customer commitments, market conditions, evolving threats and opportunities, and possibly regulatory requirements.

Step 4: Managing the Portfolio - Managing the Project List

With your criteria in hand, a weighted project list can now be developed. A sample is show below. It lists each project (which is in support of a capability). In this example, f…

Defining the IT Roadmap in Life Science - Part II

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Welcome to part two of this blog series, click here for a link to Part One.
Step 1: Defining the Core Capabilities

As noted in the last entry, an organization’s core capability can be viewed as those things an organization does particularly well to drive meaningful business results. Examples can range from talent management, lean manufacturing, customer care, research or product design. For pharmaceuticals, some specific examples could be pipeline management, study design, regulatory management including submissions, responses, and related matters, as well as drug discovery.
If you do not already have an organizational capability map, you need to begin by meeting with each business area. From those discussions, you can collaboratively develop a capabilities list for that area.
That list will need to be filtered and sorted into priority order. The output from this, as well as discussions with other areas, will then need to be consolidated into a single list.

Step 2: Enumerating the Cor…

Defining the IT Roadmap in Life Science - Part I

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There are many things I associate with fall: cooler temperatures, vivid colors, and of course, falling leafs (and raking!) As an IT executive, there is something else I can count on: lots of e-mails focusing on CIO/IT Priorities for the new year.
Many of these articles are insightful and can provoke some interesting and thoughtful discussions. Nevertheless, the one-size-fits-all approach can limit their usefulness. Companies, like snowflakes, are unique. In this case, that uniqueness is result of many factors including:
IndustrySub-Industry FocusDevelopment state (startup, growth, downsizing)Operating status (pending sale, M&A, legal complications, etc.)Access to capitalTalent baseEach of these factors can shift priorities, and collectively their impacts can be substantial.
Consequently, I view these yearly priority articles as generalized recommendations that may or may not be relevant in my circumstance. To be sure, the often contained points have great value, but as the old a…