How to get funding for an IT project
Getting C-level approval for a much needed IT project is no easy task. To get the required funding, a persuasive and compelling business case that outlines the costs and benefits of the proposed project clearly and succinctly, is a must.
Aside from providing financial justification, a business case for an IT project must also be aligned with the goals of the business and should comply with the organisations existing technical structure.
The content and length of a business case will vary depending on the scope and complexity of the project. But there are usually some common elements that you should include in your proposal.
Here are the key components of a winning business case:
- Summary of the project – This should be clear and concise. Briefly describe the process you have followed in developing the proposal and who has had input into the process. This is important to demonstrate that you already have internal support. Your goal during the summary is to give decision makers confidence in the proposal and that it has been well thought out and discussed internally already.
- Rationale – Explain what made you consider this project. Describe the current situation and outline the issues that your IT project will solve. Provide an in-depth description of what needs to be done and why. This is the part of your proposal which will set the overall tone of discussion so make every word count.
- Value Proposition – This is where you highlight the value of the project for the business. What are the benefits it will add to the business in terms of stability, reliability, performance, reporting, productivity, and so on. If it’s a new investment, how will it support the current objectives of the business? Keep in mind that the value of the project is what really determines its success. Where possible you should provide hard evidence of actual cost savings or return on expenditure.
- Delivery – Make clear the technical changes required and relevant planning issues. Who is going to do the work? Will it be internal or external? Are you going to hire contractors? Offer ways on how your project will be monitored and how that information will be reported. Specify the time frame – when it needs to be done and how much downtime will there be. Don’t forget to address how the project will affect business continuity. Will it affect any users outside of the IT department?
- Cost – State how much your project will cost. Be as realistic and as comprehensive as possible. Explain what it is going to cost in terms of capital, resources, and people. Break this down into CAPEX and OPEX. Factor in resource hours if there will be any downtime in user productivity (for example, you will have to migrate each individual workstation which will take X amount of time per person).
- Alternatives and Risks – Consider this the summary of your proposal. You should ensure you’ve included a thorough analysis of other platforms, management systems, or hardware required for this project. Pick two or more and present the pros and cons. Make sure you also include any risks associated with the project and how these will be mitigated.
- Directness and data – Your business case should be written in a direct, to the point style. Make sure that you also include as many clear metrics as possible to support your business case. Avoid convoluted sentences, and IT jargon as much as possible.
You may include other information if you think it will support your case, such as case studies or scenarios, benchmarking information, interests of external stakeholders such as the community, customers and investors.
Remember that the viability of your project will be judged against the contents of the business case you have created, so leave no stone unturned.
Focus on the key benefits that contribute to business improvement such as performance, process control, safety, risk management, compliance, corporate reputation, social responsibility and cost savings. A well thought out business case will help ensure your IT project gets the green light.