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Improving on I.T. Budgeting and the ROI of the I.T. Project Portfolio

The annual budgeting process is primarily based on historical data. However, the demand that information technology spend directly contribute to revenue and profit growth is a forward looking need. Consequently, information technology managers are left using backward looking budgets and estimates to predict future events in constantly changing business environments. Senior level business executives who hold the purse strings for the annual budget, and project portfolio budget, are challenged by more than the amount, and the growth, of investment required by information technology. In addition to capital investment concerns, senior level business executive confidence in the return on information technology investment is shaken by personal experience, customer feedback, employee feedback and knowledge of the challenges that information technology departments face in reaching their goals and completing their projects.

The key to a smoother budgeting process is better collaboration between the technology and finance arms of an organization. Finance professionals have in-depth experience working with business leaders in order to plan budgets that can ensure that department budgets are able to absorb some of the ebbs and flows of business cycles and market demand. In addition, finance professionals can significantly contribute to the process of forecasting project costs, defining ROI variance scenarios, and teasing out the variety of financial levers that can be leveraged to optimize department spending. Forming cross functional teams of information technology professionals and finance professionals who actively work through the unique challenges that information technology managers face in accurately budgeting for their annual and project based work helps to reduce the variance between the expected and actual costs of the information technology department. Once budgeting is complete, the cross functional team must actively manage the estimated vs. actuals recording and reporting in order to ensure that the financial ledgers and financial reports are accurately and impactfully reported to senior level business executives.

In terms of tracking I.T. ROI, cross functional teams from the information technology Department, the business, and finance department must work together in order to define the quantitative and qualitative success criteria of a project before the project begins. The team must report project results to the impacted areas of the organization in accessible and succinct ways.

Copyright © Devon Manelski