What vs. Why

When you start thinking about your next great project, put your business hat on and think about it from a business vantage point, not from your technology perspective.

There are three key factors you must understand PLUS you must understand another part that is the most important part of all. Read on.

Three key factors

  1. Cost –  Certainly, a key ingredient is going to be the cost of doing something. So, develop a good idea as to what the cost will be and be sure to include the full cost implication of your new venture, including start-up and all project costs as well as ongoing costs once the project is completed.
  2. Effort –  What will it take in effort to get the new technology up and running? Time, resources, and the types of skills required all have important implications in delivering a new technology initiative.
  3. Risk –  There is both risk in delivering something new, , , but there may also be risk in not delivering it or in delivering it later than is needed. Risk has a cost so be sure you understand the risk implications of your initiative.

All of these things are key in evaluating any new IT initiative, but they are still not the key issue you need to look at, because none of these elements will actually help you get the project approved.

Each of these attributes (Cost, Effort, and Risk) deal with “WHAT”, , , the key piece is “WHY”.

The “WHY” factor
The element of an IT initiative that gets your recommendation funded is the “WHY” factor. “Why do we need to do this?” is far more important than understanding what it takes to get it done, , , although you will need this information as well.

If you can’t explain “Why”, then just forget about getting approval.

Ask yourself the question, “If I don’t understand why something needs to be done, would I spend money and effort to do it?”.

Probably not, , ,  hopefully not, , ,  you certainly should not!!!

This is exactly how your senior manager thinks about any recommendation you make, , , if he can’t understand “why”, it is very difficult to decide to spend money and put forth effort on something.

The “Why” factor is all about cost justification and the benefits that will be derived by doing something, , , and these benefits should be a business benefit, not necessarily an IT organization benefit.

Two key elements of “Why”:

  1. Cost justification –  something tangible has to be presented that makes the project worth the cost and effort.
  2. Benefits –  A business benefit must be articulated. Remember, it is all about the business, , , not about the technology. You focus your discussion on the technology and the business manager who must decide to spend the money or not will simply not hear you.

Learn to focus your recommendations on “WHY” and you will see that it has much more impact in getting your recommendations approved. Develop a solid track record of delivering cost justified initiatives that have business value benefits and you will be golden. It will turn the “No” and “Maybe” decisions into “Yes” votes of confidence.

4 responses to “What vs. Why

  1. Geoffrey Mulenga

    Great Stuff Mike!! I always appreciate the value you attach to IT vs Business. I really never realise how important this alignment was until I came across your articles.
    I wish you can make it to Zambia one day.

  2. Excellent Mike !!! You are a great IT Business Manager. I respect you and each article really articulates what you hold in your professional experience. I hope I will meet you soon in Dubai.



  3. Pingback: Top 10 Posts of 2010 | ITLever™

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