In the current cost-conscious business environment, everything and everyone is at risk. IT and telecom programs are continuously under siege and at risk of being cut. While producing great results is important, it may not be enough to protect your IT communications program. You need to be able to effectively communicate those results in the right way to the proper stakeholders.
Being proactive in communicating the value of your program and your team’s contributions can go a long way to protecting them from the chopping block. Whether you’re managing an existing program or developing a business case to establish a new program, having a plan to demonstrate value will help win over decision-makers and prove the worth of your program.
In order to communicate its value, you need to fully understand your program’s objectives and why it exists. What does it do and why is it needed? And what would happen without it? Answering these questions first for yourself, and then proactively to stakeholders and decision-makers, prepares you to not only defend your program but go on the offensive in showcasing your value.
Defining your program’s value can be done in two main ways: identifying the program’s quantitative value, the metrics and hard cost savings; and identifying the program’s qualitative value, the other benefits that aren’t always easily measured with an exact number.
Every business lives and dies by the numbers, and an IT communications program provides plenty of opportunities for direct quantitative improvements. These might be a specific amount saved, spending eliminated or reimbursed, or time saved. When identifying which metrics to use, it’s important to consider what matters most to your organization. Track and communicate your program’s ROI in the ways that matter to your organization.
The most straightforward metrics to reference are direct cost savings, usually gained through the refund of billing errors and optimization of service levels. Cost avoidances and reduction of future spending are also key. A third major source of savings is labor costs saved or reallocated through process automation. These can occur in areas such as service order management, inventory management, or automation of invoice review, processing, and payment, and can be measured with hours (and dollars) saved.
Impacts upon service delivery and operations can be tracked through various Service Level Agreements (SLAs) and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). These types of metrics are critical to show operational improvements and to cut costs with providers. Hold vendors accountable for service quality by tracking break/fix costs and outages and optimize vendor services by examining metrics such as cost per user/call/event, etc.
Numbers aren’t the only way to demonstrate value. Some of the best benefits of an IT/telecom program are more difficult to communicate with raw data. For instance, one of the greatest benefits of TEM is visibility into usage, spend, inventory, assets, and more. TEM drives visibility which drives savings and provides vital information for leadership to make more informed decisions.
Your program also provides risk mitigation and security benefits, as well as operational and legal protections, that lead to indirect savings by avoiding potential problems. An IT communications program bolsters the effectiveness of communications infrastructure, helping to avoid outages, establish redundancy and ensure high quality of service across the network. Financial and legal liability is minimized through confirming compliance with regulations across jurisdictions, protecting against fraud-related issues, and helping manage contracts with service providers.
These types of benefits can impact a number of departments and provide solutions to issues important to leadership. Just because they are not always easily summed up quantitatively, they are no less important to express.
When communicating your value, start slow and keep it simple. Your audience may not be familiar with IT Expense Management, TEM, MMS, or Cloud. If applicable, ask them what they’ve heard and go from there. Keep it simple, beginning with 3-5 word answers you can build on and bring together. Using anecdotes and examples of concrete accomplishments can be very helpful to demonstrate value in a tangible way.
Knowing your audience and stakeholders is crucial. The way you communicate will change if you’re talking to a CFO or VP of Finance, someone in Operations, or a CIO. The overall message and key points remain consistent, but which points to emphasize and in which way will vary with your audience.
It’s also key to identify who to engage and do so proactively. Communicate early and often with relevant metrics, providing information such as reports and analytics that are relevant to your audience. Ask for meetings, whether they’re monthly or quarterly. Explain why ongoing review and analytics are critical to keeping up with the dynamic pace of change, and why one-time reviews won’t cut it anymore. The better your stakeholders understand the purpose of your program and the value it provides, the more they can stand by it.
Another useful method is to explain what would happen if your program didn’t exist. If ignored, your organization will miss savings opportunities, incur wasteful expenses from billing errors and invalid charges, and be unequipped to negotiate the best sourcing deals. Spending would be uncontrolled, security risks heightened and there would be little visibility. This can help you make your case from a different angle.
Having a plan in place and proactively demonstrating your program’s value will ensure your organization keeps reaping its benefits, even at a time when other programs are being cut.
In case you missed it, check out our Calero World session with Joe Basili, Managing Director, ETMA, as he discusses the importance of “Communicating Your IT Communications Program’s Value: Proving Your Worth.”
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