Expansion on Strategy 4: Leveraging Data and Metrics to Support Proposals
To persuade the board to invest in their initiatives, technology leaders must leverage data and metrics to support their proposals. By presenting evidence-based arguments grounded in real-world data, you can demonstrate the potential impact of your initiatives and instill confidence in the board members.
Here are key aspects to consider when leveraging data and metrics:
Understand Financial Statements:
Technology Leaders should develop a solid understanding of financial statements, particularly the balance sheet and income statement (profit and loss statement). These financial documents provide insights into the organisation’s financial health, profitability, and performance. By becoming familiar with these documents, leaders can identify key financial metrics that are relevant to their proposals and effectively communicate the financial implications of their initiatives.
Takeaways: You have to learn to speak the same language as your directors. Risk, Strategy and Finance. Understanding the board’s risk tolerances and performance goals as they relate to the finances will help you navigate the request for funding because you will be able to relate your predicted expenditure either to current performance buoyancy and/or future targets and make a stronger claim for them to invest in your initiatives.
Quantify Financial Impact:
Technology Leaders must quantify the financial impact of their initiatives. This involves conducting a thorough cost-benefit analysis that considers the investment required, potential cost savings, revenue generation opportunities, and other financial implications. By presenting a clear financial picture, including projected return on investment (ROI), payback period, and net present value (NPV), a Technology Leader can demonstrate the feasibility and value of their proposals.
Takeaways: This is the hard, but necessary work to translate the initiatives you know you need to implement, into an approval. Don’t skip corners. Work with someone from the finance team if it helps, but build a solid case. And don’t think of it as time wasted. Creating a costed business case is good practice if you aspire to become the next CEO.
Identify Key Performance Indicators (KPIs):
Technology Leaders need to identify relevant Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that align with their proposed initiatives. KPIs should be measurable, quantifiable metrics that demonstrate the impact of the initiatives on the organisation’s performance. For example, KPIs could include metrics such as revenue growth, cost savings, customer satisfaction scores, or operational efficiency improvements. By selecting and tracking these KPIs, a Technology Leader can provide concrete evidence of the value their initiatives can deliver.
Takeaways: In selling the big picture and the positive changes your initiative will bring, don’t forget to include how you will measure success both in the interim and the long-term. Establish the measurement methodology and aim at achievable yet impressive KPIs.
Conduct Benchmarking and Competitive Analysis:
Technology Leaders should conduct benchmarking and competitive analysis to contextualise their proposals and demonstrate industry best practices. By comparing the organisation’s performance and technology capabilities with industry peers, a Technology Leader can identify areas for improvement and present the initiatives as necessary steps to maintain or gain a competitive advantage. Benchmarking data and competitive analysis provide a compelling basis for decision-making and can reinforce the urgency and relevance of the proposed initiatives.
Takeaways: Leveraging information about other industry participants can have a powerful, galvanising effect on the board. If you can demonstrate that you will close a competitive gap or catch-up to other industry players, and can link that closure to increased prospects of commercial success, your board will be more likely to invest.
Utilise Data Visualisation Techniques:
Data visualisation techniques, such as charts, graphs, and dashboards, can be powerful tools for presenting complex data in a visually appealing and easily digestible format. Technology Leaders should leverage these techniques to present key data points, trends, and comparative analyses. By using data visualisations effectively, a leader can enhance the board’s understanding of the proposed initiatives and make a compelling case for their implementation.
Takeaways: Pictures sell. Although we are delving into the world of Marketing here, it’s a human truth that a well-conceived image will be more convincing and easier to understand than the best spreadsheet or written business case. If you can translate your initiative into an image or two, or a full page infographic with reliable data to back it up, you’ll be well placed to win funding approval. Don’t underestimate how much your audience would prefer an image – don’t force them to wade through text-heavy handouts if you can do better.
Incorporate Real-World Case Studies:
To add credibility and provide tangible evidence of success, Technology Leaders can incorporate real-world case studies that demonstrate the positive outcomes of similar initiatives. These case studies should showcase organisations that have achieved measurable benefits through technology implementations. By presenting concrete examples of successful initiatives, leaders can strengthen their arguments and build confidence in the board’s decision-making process.
Takeaways: Even better than an industry benchmark can be a case study of a known brand undertaking the same or similar initiative as you are proposing and seeing positive results. A real-life case study success will ease the sense of risk around the initiative you are proposing. Be prepared to answer extra questions though – the board will want to test the parallels between what you are proposing and the case study you raise.
Continuous Monitoring and Reporting:
Once the initiatives are approved and implemented, Technology Leaders should establish monitoring and reporting mechanisms to track their progress and outcomes. Regular reporting on key metrics, milestones achieved, and overall impact helps demonstrate accountability and transparency. By consistently providing data-driven updates to the board, leaders can reinforce the value of their initiatives and maintain ongoing support that benefits future endeavours.
Takeaways: Winning approval is just the beginning. Then begins the real work of keeping the board closely informed. Don’t be afraid to fail – a good board establishes its tolerance for risk and acts within it. If your project got approved but failed to deliver the intended benefits, it’s the board’s responsibility. As long as you executed your role by keeping them informed during and post-project, you will have earned their trust and the opportunity for future funding.
By leveraging data and metrics effectively, Technology Leaders can strengthen their proposals and demonstrate the potential value and impact of their initiatives. Understanding financial statements, identifying relevant KPIs, conducting benchmarking, quantifying financial impact, utilising data visualisation techniques, incorporating real-world case studies, and establishing monitoring and reporting mechanisms are essential components in presenting a compelling data-driven business case to the board. Once the project is approved, a leader must keep the board closely informed on its implementation and net results.