Pitching the Technical Solution

Presenting a case to non-technical executives is always a challenge. While executives are focused on ROI and keeping cost predictable and sensibly manageable, some do have an ear for technology solutions that bring value and savings over time to an organization. Not all technology requests have to be feared as long as they are presented in a fashion that makes fiscal sense.

When pitching IT solutions, do not take a technical approach. Leave the technological advantages for last and only after you have captured the attention and interest in your money and resource saving IT virtual solutions. Make the following three points when explaining your ideas.

1- Savings Over Time. Present factors that can ultimately lead to big savings on capital expenditures on hardware/software showing that purchasing fewer systems will improve the bottom line.

2- Time Savings. The idea will lead to more time spent on critical projects that add value and dollars to the bottom line. This free time can be spent on strategy planning and moving the enterprise to a higher operating plane.

3- Increase Performance. Performance can be improved without having to buy more keeping a tight budget.

Back up all the above with KPIs. Hard graphical data trending over time always captures everyone’s attention. It is hard to dispute the cold reality of numbers.


Key Performance Indicators

Every department needs to develop key performance indicators to measure performance. IT is no exception. In fact, it is probably more important for IT to have a set of KPIs to show overall performance in the business. This supports the mission of IT to add value to the organiztion. For my department I have been tracking the following KPIs. I have been tracking on a weekly basis to keep an eye on trends that may develop. Your organization may be different but I would recommend that you track with more frequency then less.

Financial Management:

  • Percent of IT cost vs. total revenue of the
  • Percent of keeping the lights on cost compared
    to the total IT cost
  • Dollars saved due to productivity improvement
  • Average seat/resource cost trending over (Month
    to Month)(Quarter on Quarter)(Year to Year)
  • Actual spend vs. budget (Month to Month)(Quarter
    on Quarter)(Year to Year)

Project Performance:

  • Percent of projects completed within schedule
    and budget
  • Percent of projects exceeded their original
    schedule and/or budget by xx % (we use 10%)
  • Percent of project time consumed by rework due
    to defect fixes and scope changes
  • Number of known defects released to production
  • Percent of projects initiated without an
    approved business case

Operations Management:

  • Business critical system/application uptime
  • Average turnaround time for fixing production
  • Number of production incidents by severity
  • Percent of service requests/tickets closed
    within the SLAs
  • Average time to resolution for service tickets
  • Business time lost due to unscheduled downtime

Information Security:

  • Number of security breaches/incidents in systems
    and infrastructure
  • Percent of systems/applications compliant to
    security policies/standards
  • Percent of security patches applied within

The above KPIs have been graphed in Excel using the raw data collected. Again I track on a weekly basis which make it easy to slice and dice the data when asked. We have now started the process of incorporating this information into a dashboard format. We are using a product from iDashboard to help convert this data. It is recommended that a developer be involved to write scripts to interpret this data. Taking raw Excel data and importing in iDashboards was not clean and required additional coding. The end result will be to see this information in a clean graphical format wit the push of a button.

Measuring IT Staff Performance

As a CIO or department head it is important to establish a uniform practice of performance evaluation and tie staff compensation directly to performance. Many firms struggle with this task. Many IT shops fail at it. Staff management is the one area where there is no how to book. Instead, it is mostly trial and error-mostly error.

Staff performance should be evaluated in various categories that align with your company’s vision and goals. Depending on the needs of the business one or more categories may be focused on for improvement.

For example, for my staff I used 3 KPI each with a weighted percentage:
1. Leadership/Professional Development=30%
2. Financial Performance=10%
3. Core areas=60%

Leadership/Professional Development
Overall leadership /professional development skills demonstrated for employees will be measured in the following key areas:

  1. Critical Thinking/ Problem Solving
  2.  Teamwork
  3.  Driving Results
  4.  Communication
  5.  Personal Development

Examples of leadership and management skills that may be demonstrated are provided below. The lists below are examples to be used in employee’s individual annual goals. Not all examples under each core area must be included.

  1. Critical Thinking/ Problem Solving
    • Carriers out systematic and rational analysis to identify the root cause of problems
    • Provides feedback, input and support to the other parts of the organization for overall organizational improvement
    • Assists in the development of policies and procedures
    • Understands contract drawings and specifications & the impact on field work
    • Seeks continuous improvement by considering solutions that make novel use of existing ideas, approaches, technologies or products
    • Carries out systematic and rational solutions to complete the task required
  2. Teamwork
    • Works to coordinate efforts/resources within and across teams to deliver on goals
    • Recognizes the importance of teamwork to achieve objectives; brings in ideas, information, suggestions and expertise from others outside the immediate team.
    • Builds strong team relationships within and across teams.
    • Proactively supports colleagues and collaborates with them to help achieve targets.
    • Involves the right people (colleagues, vendors) to ensure the best decisions are made in a timely manner
  3. Driving Results
    • Takes personal accountability for achieving individual and shared goals.
    • Works to plan well in advance and initiates action to move projects forward.
    • Manages time effectively, monitoring performance against deadlines and milestones.
    • Knows when to escalate decisions and when to make on-the-spot decisions
  4. Communication
    • Communicates openly and confidently.
    • Influences, and convinces others in a way that results in acceptance and agreement.
    • Shapes conversations to ensure focus and understanding.
    • Speaks frankly, debates at the table, not afterwards; engages in constructive confrontation.
    • Is a supportive listener.
    • Ability to clearly communicate when appropriate.
  5. Personal Development
    • Ensure development plans are completed
    • Actively participates in midyear and annual performance reviews with supervisor in a timely manner
    • Identifies development needs and take advantage of the training made available.
    • Provide the necessary resources and support for the training efforts.
    • Participate in industry/core area based events and organizations to gain knowledge and expand the company brand
    • Engage in ongoing development, support and refinement of the mentoring program

In each of the above area, performance will be evaluated against the goals using the performance metrics agreed to at the beginning of the review period. The Professional Development / Leadership Index will be the sum of weighted scores in each of the above areas.

Financial Performance
Overall financial performance on the assigned projects will be measured by the follow Cost Management. Effective cost management is critical in understanding cost drivers and keeping them low to maximize the profitability on the projects. Besides good knowledge of the project, effective cost management practices require our project team to know what the individual cost items’ control budgets are, as well as actual cost incurred and projected cost to complete.

Core areas:
1. System Infrastructure
2. Application Management
3. Support / Helpdesk
4. Compliance & Controls

In addition, each position will be evaluated specific core functional areas. These core areas will be included as part of the goals for each employee.