What are the best ways to communicate the value of IT in my organization?

16.1k views1 Upvote5 Comments

Director, Customer Experience Services in Software, 10,001+ employees
This a hard battle to be won. It’s always a fight between the revenue generators and everyone else. Most IT orgs, by definition, are internal facing and don’t have direct impact on revenue. Therefore, it’s even more important that the IT leadership works on communicating our value and delivering results. My area of focus is business systems and I have the advantage of working with business leaders who understand the value of IT. They understand that while we do not directly impact revenue, we do impact profitability. IT has the ability to reduce cost and increase efficiency. My recommendation - Find the forward looking CFO/ CEO/ C-suite exec in your organization who sees your value in profit generation and have them champion the IT org within the company.  
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Chief Security Officer in Software, 10,001+ employees

I agree with the commend from Prithvi. IT is a cost center so it will always be a battle for budget, value, etc. However, there are ways to justify and demonstrate value. One way is for the engineers such as Technical Marketing Engineers to sell the value of your internal IT operations to customers. Things like SLAs, RPO/RTO, DR, etc. can all indirectly contribute to customer goodwill during a sales cycle. You can track these sales engagements and associated revenue to show your indirect contribution over the year. You can do something similar for internal engagements with your internal stakeholders to track value. Another option is to have clearly defined KPIs that get reported to your C-Suite. Things like uptime, availability, etc. should all be reported to them to give IT the visibility needed. This will engage the C-Suite to give you the resources you need if there is an issue.

CTO in Education, 2 - 10 employees
Interesting discussion! Most of the time I try to explain tech dependencies without involving "revenue" as it's such a bad metric for a healthy organisation.
I tend to focus more on the infrastructure and building blocks on which an organisation is built. When the IT departement is nothing but a website upkeep there is no value for me to bring.
VP of Global IT and Cybersecurity in Manufacturing, 501 - 1,000 employees
Agree with Lee around SLAs, RPO/RTO, DR, these can all indirectly contribute to customer goodwill during a sales cycle. For organizations who have treated DevOPS as a business strategy, IT ops resources are being used for internal consumption, but also are being used to contribute to customer solutions. This allow a portion of IT to NOT be a cost center, but rather a revenue center. The less siloed the organization, the more the agile and cross functional the IT resources the better.
Board Member, Former CIO in Software, 10,001+ employees
It's easy. First off, understand what your value is - what purpose does IT serve within your company. Sometimes it is efficiency. Sometimes it is productivity. Sometimes it is business enablement. The best way to understand what this is is to have a discussion with your CEO. Think about IT from his/her perspective. Why does it exist? At the companies I worked at in IT (Facebook, KLA-Tencor), this was the focus of my "Build" or Innovation function. Second, you have to educate the business on the rest of what is necessary. You may exist to drive the productivity of the workforce, but you must be SOX compliant. You must have a network. You must maintain your applications. These things are NOT what you will get credit for in terms of value, but you can make sure that people understand why they are there. (BTW - all corporate functions have this need. Facilities, HR, Legal - so you are not alone in needing to communicate what it takes to run the organization). At both KT and FB, I this was the focus of my "Run" or operations function. Third - run IT like a business. You have a P&L. You certainly should know what your cost is - the costs that it takes to run the organization. Your "revenue" is the business value that you create. The difference between your revenue and your cost is either Profit or Loss. For my "Run" function, the P&L was "Cost per supported user". Every new user in the company drove IT cost that was necessary for that user to exist - laptop, phone, network, etc). Our focus was to continually drive down our cost per supported user, which made everyone better off. If our costs were going down, the company is getting more profitable. If they are going up, then we have a problem.For the Build function, revenue was basically achieving the business thesis that IT existed for. At FB, the purpose of IT is the productivity of the workforce. So we existed to move Revenue / employee, or sometimes a more narrowly defined objective like hires/recruiter. Movement in these numbers had clear and specific ROI in business terms for the company (e.g. increases in revenue, profit, cash flow, etc). Finally, communicate this stuff! Whether at KLA-Tencor or Facebook, our business reviews for IT were about reporting how we were performing on our build projects, and how we were driving efficiencies in Run. No one had any question as to the purpose or value of the IT organization, or the effectiveness. Now, here's a few tidbits of what NOT to do:1) don't assume that anyone understands what it takes to run IT - you have to educate them2) don't assume that just because you think an IT project is important that it is. Unless you can specifically tie it to the bottom line, it may not be3) don't communicate your value in technical terms - even at the most technical of companies, IT lingo causes eyes to glaze over. Once you've lost your audience, it doesn't matter what you say4) don't come up with SLAs or business measures that you saw another IT organization use which worked for them. Every business is different. Just because availability or performance is really important to one company doesn't meant that it means anything to the next. Hope that helps

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