Let’s start with a story about a newly minted CIO named Charles: Charles got his job by working his way up through the IT department and by earning a solid reputation for his technical proficiency and innovative ideas. Now, the first big project he’ll take on as CIO is upgrading the company’s ITSM processes from an outdated on-premise ITSM platform to ServiceNow. The more he learns about ServiceNow, the bigger and bolder his ideas get. For Charles, the best possible outcome involves an overhaul that requires a significant budget. How does Charles communicate his vision to the C-suite in a way that will resonate with them and help them see the value of the proposed investment?
At Crossfuze, we understand that the C-suite often proceeds cautiously when it comes to ITSM projects. In a recent survey of 600 business and IT executives, an astonishing 75% said they believe their IT projects are always or usually “doomed from the start.” Another study by McKinsey found that half of all IT projects with budgets of $15 million or more run 45% over budget and deliver 56% less value than anticipated.
In Crossfuze’s years of experience working with clients to deliver ServiceNow-centric transformations, we’ve learned a lot about how CIOs can avoid seeing their ServiceNow implementation budget slashed or, even worse, denied. Let’s explore three important ways to get C-suite buy-in for the ServiceNow budget you’ve asked for:
- Focus on building your big-picture vision: CIOs are typically great at methodically planning for a major IT project, including providing thorough documentation of timelines, resources, and governance. What’s much tougher to do is to build a compelling big-picture vision and communicate the value of that vision in a way that will resonate with the C-suite.
Vision is the foundational cornerstone of any ServiceNow implementation. As we discussed in our first pillar, vision is about defining desired outcomes based on corporate goals and then convincing others to rally around those goals as you put your vision in motion. By the time you present this vision to the C-suite and request the funding necessary to support this transformation, it is important to have shared your vision widely and to have received widespread buy-in. When you are able to show the C-suite that your plans and ideas already have near-universal support, they are much more likely to support those plans, thereby enabling your success.
- Ensure your budget is closely aligned with your roadmap: As you develop a well-articulated vision and receive widespread buy-in, you also want to design a long-term implementation roadmap spanning at least two to three years that will enable you to carry out your vision. Depending on the situation, the roadmap may develop concurrently with the vision or may be created after the vision is fully articulated.
As you develop a budget around your roadmap, it’s helpful to make sure every line item of the budget aligns with and supports the roadmap. The idea is that when the C-suite asks why you need a particular line item in your budget, you can point to the roadmap and show how the line item fits into the overall strategic plan.
It is also helpful to think ahead beyond your budget for the next fiscal year. Just as you want your roadmap to cover your implementation plan two to three years into the future, your budgeting should also be aligned with your roadmap this far ahead. Similarly, just as your ServiceNow successes will grow from within your organization, so too will the demands on your enterprise to further build out the platform. Again, this reinforces the value of a long-term roadmap and budget to support this progression. When the C-suite can see how multiple years of investments will ultimately build upon one another to create the ServiceNow transformation they desire, they’re going to be much less likely to worry about individual line items for a particular budget year.
- Focus on the business case: When it comes to IT projects, the C-suite will be primarily interested in the bottom line, not an itemized list of project deliverables. So, when you are writing your business case, you want to effectively articulate the plan, platform use, and budget while showing the anticipated results of the business plan at every major milestone. This will help the C-suite see that you have thoroughly analyzed the plan and discovered what is needed to help reach corporate goals. Without a strong quantitative argument, you run the risk of being cast aside in favor of a higher business priority that already offers a sound business case.
An effective business case has four main sections: executive summary, finance, project definition, and project organization. Those with the ultimate responsibility to ensure every dollar spent in the organization is spent on the right thing (e.g., the CFO) will be especially interested in the budget ask and ROI sections: What efficiencies and improvements can be expected to serve business drivers, and what do these look like in specific metrics? Therefore, you want to be sure to thoroughly and clearly explain the financial implications of the project. Consider every potential cost for the project, and include a cost/benefit analysis that includes predicted cost savings and growth. Also, be prepared to discuss the “what ifs.” For example, if we didn’t do ‘X,’ how would that impact the anticipated efficiency improvements and related cost savings, as well as the overall success and timeline of the roadmap?
By focusing on the value to the business, you have more control over your budget and ServiceNow journey than you realize. The C-suite is going to be looking to you to articulate a well-defined vision, to explain how your budget aligns with your implementation roadmap, and to justify the business case behind implementing ServiceNow.
Thank you for reading. If you found this post informative, please consider sharing it with others. Also, if you’re interested in finding out more about building a budget and a solid business case that will garner the support of the C-suite, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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