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  • Helen Pritchett

Don’t Disregard the Budget ‘Influencer’: A Strategic Approach to IT Investment



Don't disregard the budget 'influencer'
Don't disregard the budget 'influencer'

In the world of IT investments, decision-making often revolves around budget holders who control the purse strings. However, a narrow focus on these top-level executives can result in missed opportunities and suboptimal outcomes. There's another group that plays a pivotal role in the decision-making process: the influencers within the IT team. These individuals, often overlooked, can provide invaluable insights, and drive meaningful discussions about technology needs and investments. Here's why you shouldn't disregard the budget 'influencer' and how engaging with them can lead to more informed and effective IT decisions.


The Importance of Engaging with Influencers

Influencers within an IT team are typically those who are on the front lines, dealing with the day-to-day challenges and operational intricacies. They are the ones who experience the pain points first-hand and understand the nuances of what’s needed to overcome them. By engaging with these influencers, you gain access to a wealth of knowledge about the current state of your IT infrastructure and the real issues that need addressing.


Why Not Aim Solely for the IT Budget Decision Maker?

While it’s crucial to secure buy-in from the ultimate decision maker, usually a senior executive or the CIO, they may not always have a granular understanding of the technical challenges faced by their teams. These budget holders often operate at a strategic level, focusing on broader business goals and high-level strategy. This can create a disconnect between the identified needs at the operational level and the strategic vision.


By contrast, influencers are deeply embedded in the everyday operations of the IT department. They can provide detailed insights into the specific areas where improvements are necessary and can advocate for the projects that will have the most significant impact. Ignoring their input can result in misaligned priorities and investments that do not address the core issues.


The Role of Influencers in the IT Ecosystem

Influencers in the IT realm are usually at the forefront of the challenges being faced within the team. They are often the ones to propose new ideas and concepts for projects because they are directly involved with the systems and processes in question. Their proximity to the actual work means they 'feel the heat' when things go wrong and are highly motivated to find and advocate for effective solutions.


Understanding Pain Points and Requirements

Since influencers are hands-on with the technology, they have a deep understanding of the pain points and requirements across different IT areas. Engaging with them provides a more comprehensive view of what’s working and what’s not. This level of detail is often beyond the grasp of senior executives who are not as involved in the day-to-day operations.


Strategic Engagement with Influencers

To leverage the insights of IT influencers effectively, it's important to involve them in discussions about next steps and potential investments. Here’s how you can strategically engage with them:

 

  • Create Open Channels of Communication: Establish regular meetings or forums where influencers can share their insights and feedback. This ensures their voices are heard and considered in the decision-making process.

  • Involve Them in Planning: Bring influencers into the planning stages of projects. Their input can help shape more realistic and effective project scopes and timelines.

  • Stakeholder Involvement: Ask for stakeholders to be brought into conversations. This collaborative approach ensures that all relevant perspectives are considered, leading to more holistic and well-informed decisions.

  • Recognise and Reward Contributions: Acknowledge the contributions of influencers. This not only boosts morale but also encourages continued engagement and proactive problem-solving.


Conclusion

The role of the budget 'influencer' is indispensable across any industry. In IT, these individuals provide critical insights that can bridge the gap between high-level strategy and operational reality. By not disregarding their input and actively engaging them in the decision-making process, organisations can make more informed, effective, and impactful IT investments. Remember, while the budget decision maker holds the keys to the funds, it’s the influencers who hold the keys to the knowledge.

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