IT Budgeting Checklist

How to Get Budget Approval in Uncertain Times

Asking for funding during a financial upswing can be awkward and uncomfortable. Asking for budget in uncertain financial times? Buckle up, it’s going to be a bumpy ride!

Use this go-to checklist to cover your bases so your request stands out and gets approved, even when dollars are scarce.

ASSESS YOUR COMPANY’S CURRENT STATE

First, make sure you understand your company’s current business strategy and market trajectory which will prove valuable as you build out your justification.

  • What’s your org’s current mode of growth? Your positioning should reflect whether you’re in a state of expansion, retention, growth, or decline.

  • What’s your org’s business strategy? Align your budgetary request to your business’ priorities.

    • For penny-pinching orgs, provide financial justifications such as reduced expenses, lower breach exposure, etc.

    • For innovation-first orgs, highlight progressive elements such as time-to-market and industry trends.

IDENTIFY KEY PEOPLE – EARLY

Know your org beyond IT. Who’s responsible for purchasing and approvals, for example, and what’s important to them?

  • Will the purchase drive improvements for the business, IT, and/or security teams? How? The more specific and quantitative you can be, the better.

  • Who are the key C-Suite approvers and what are their approval thresholds? What will they care most about?

Some examples:
  • COO – Operational usability, repeatability, and scalability

    • CIO – Strategic differentiators, new opportunities for growth through IT

    • CFO – Revenue impacts, expenses, and/or breach avoidance

    • CISO – Tools that address vulnerabilities and remove threats

  • If you’re at a larger org, who’s your buyer? Can they help you get the most competitive quote or offer insights to move budget approvals through?

  • Who are your naysayers? What issues may they have with your ask? Ask yourself how to get them on board from the get-go.

RESEARCH PROCESSES AND FEASIBILITY

Before making your ask, think about process and feasibility.

  • Is my budget request non discretionary or discretionary?

    • Non-discretionary or “keep the lights on” expenses are likelier to be approved.

    • Discretionary spending for “nice-to-have” features are easy places cut.

  • Will the investment integrate with existing solutions?

    • Integration capabilities can increase tool value by improving useability.

  • Does the implementation require additional hardware, maintenance, support costs, or additional FTE resources?

    • Don’t get caught off-guard by surprise costs – outline detailed costs.

  • Are you addressing a core or high-priority issue?

    • Rethink critical systems. Is your request a band-aid for issues that must be addressed?

POSITION YOUR BUDGET REQUEST

During unsure economic times, prepare to have your request scrutinized. Make the right information available to the right people. Ask yourself:

  • Are you using a Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats (SWOT) framework or a corporate-approved cost/benefit analysis?

  • Have you included peer reviews, studies, and research to position your request with third-party sources?

  • Are you focused on “pain relief” vs. “nice-to-have”? Communicate why your request directly addresses your org’s pains.

EMPLOY COMPELLING METRICS

When dollars are short, stats and data are powerful. Provide measurements that demonstrate success and drive confidence for approval.

  • Have you calculated your benefits?

    • Highlight cost and time savings, MTTR comparisons, workload reductions, and improved SLAs, to demonstrate value.

GIVE YOUR REQUEST LAST LOOKS, THEN MAKE YOUR ASK

Effective communication is critical in getting approval. Ask yourself:

  • Have I prepped my executive leadership or sponsor? Are they bought in? Will they provide solid endorsement?

  • Is my request timely? Budget requests are more easily justified when the purpose, impact, and outcomes are known.

  • Can I demonstrate how this purchase will elevate alignment with both our IT and business strategy and/or roadmap?

  • Have I provided a clear outline of the value my requested budget will deliver? Have my peers reviewed it and provided feedback?

  • Do I have a presentation prepped and ready? Is my request direct and clear? Brevity can be the key element that gets your purchase approved.

  • Have I anticipated potential push-back? This will help you handle any objections.

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