Selling Back To Your CEO / CIO. What Do They Want To Hear?

This featured article was written by Simon Shaw, strategy consultant, GlassHouse Technologies (UK) Ltd.

There has long been a disconnect between on-the-ground IT staff and board level management. This is often because they have differing agendas; CEOs realise that IT is becoming an ever more expensive part of the business operating environment and often struggle to find the benefit that IT is offering in financial terms.

IT on the other hand, is trying to respond effectively to the changing and growing demands of the business. Simon Shaw, strategy consultant, GlassHouse Technologies (UK) discusses how to present IT requirements to C-level management in a way that will make an impact.

This can cause problems when trying to communicate IT back to the business. Presenting a proposition, selling back and communicating to a CEO/CIO is a very different kettle of fish to delivering a technology strategy or proposal to fellow IT directors and managers.

Instead, while they will be aware of the need for IT and that the business can not operate without it, in most cases C-level management just want to understand the key pain points and what the financial impacts of this ‘pain’ may be to the business.

The solutions to these pain points need to be built into a compelling business case and then presented in a format that the board will understand.

This is normally in terms of the ROI (return on investment), the IRR (internal rate of return), the capital expenditure and risk for the proposed remediation or solution. This is the language of the C-level execs and the more you align your presentations in these terms the more successful you will be.

It's also important to be prepared to answer questions on related issues as well as the effects and benefits to the wider business. Preparation will need to include any risks that might be relevant both by not following through with the proposed solution and by implementing it.

This also applies to any benefits. Don’t forget, C-level execs are very seldom autonomous, so it's likely they too will need to then present a ‘business’ solution to the rest of the board.

In the presentation, be technology agnostic and demonstrate the capabilities, benefits, risks, costs and what the solution means for any given proposal.

Showing preference for one named product above another can create a feeling of bias, which can cause unease. For assistance in producing solutions, its often beneficial to use a technology independent service provider.

Finally, most technology strategy or solution proposals that are aligned to ITSM can normally be seen as self-funding based on the proposed efficiencies to save current operational costs moving forward.

This presents a very compelling case and has the additional benefit of creating a more formalised and mature environment, which will allow much tighter cost control and more aligned capacity planning. This is the kind of message that will get C-level execs sitting up and taking note.