Originally Published 12/20/2016. Updated 12/21/2017.
I don’t know about you guys, but I permanently have a wishlist a mile long of software and services that I wish I could have to maximize my time at work and do my job better. Balancing the list of things that I know would have a measurable impact on our company with the fact that I’m working within a finite budget means that I do a lot of research, testing, and adjusting to make sure I’m getting the most I can out of what I’m given.
When it comes time to plan my big projects for 2018, I know that my wish list has a lot of tools on it that would help me accomplish my goals. That means that for me - like most of you - this time of year is my shot at asking for more money for my department.
If you’re planning to talk to your boss about this in the next couple of weeks, check out these tips!
- Understand your audience
You need to understand where your boss is coming from. Is she under pressure to cut expenses at any cost or to show stronger results? Can your proposed software help her achieve her objectives? By making sure to focus on what your boss cares about (which may or may not be exactly what you care about), she’ll be more likely to get on board with your proposed increase.
For example, I know that my boss is much more likely to approve spending on something if he knows that I’m going to be able to track the impact that it’s having. Including this information in my proposal rather than assuming it’s a small detail to discuss later helps assure him that I’ve thought through the request and will know if it's working (and adjust accordingly).
- Don’t give a speech
It can be tempting to sit down and write out a whole speech to memorize and give to your boss about why a bigger budget is needed. But this isn’t the time for a speech. Instead, you should be prepared to have an actual conversation with your boss. Think through the possible questions he might ask, and be ready with answers. Possible questions to expect are:
- How it will integrate with or replace existing systems and processes
- How your staff will react to it
- If it’s a recurring cost, whether or not you’ll be able to cancel service
- How long it will take to get up and running
- Show some enthusiasm
You’re asking someone to spend more money on your team than they’re used to, so if you want to be successful, you need to show them that you’re motivated to succeed. If you’re excited about what the proposed changes can do for your improvement culture, your boss will see that and get excited as well.
Make sure you talk about WHY you’re excited, WHY you need the change, and WHY it’s a good investment. Giving more information justifying your enthusiasm makes it that much more effective.
- Be transparent
Make sure your boss understands why exactly you want to purchase this software. While YOU know what you do every day and why the various budget changes you’re proposing will help you be more effective, he probably doesn’t know the ins and outs of your work.
Discuss the problems you’re facing and explain how what you’re asking for will improve them.
- Think big
This might not apply for every line item you’re asking for, but if it’s possible to highlight a potentially huge ROI, do it! Of course you want to be realistic and honest in what you expect to get from the change, but if there’s an expected impressive ROI, make sure to talk to your boss about it. For example, KaiNexus customers have an average impact of $25,000 per user, and every one of them has attained a 100% ROI from a single improvement in the system. Numbers like that will undoubtedly get your boss's attention!
- Offer solutions and options
Demonstrate that you’ve considered both the pros and the cons, and detail ways to overcome the obstacles. Identify other possible solutions, competitors of the solution you’ve chosen, and ultimately be able to explain why you’re asking for the best tool to get the job done.
Also, be willing to compromise. For example, instead of pushing for a large budget increase so that everyone in the organization can start using the software solution right away, agree to a less expensive pilot program so that you can test it out with a smaller group.
- Use the same language as your boss
If your boss isn’t familiar with your improvement lingo, avoid tossing out terms like “Lean” or “Kaizen” without explaining them. If he can’t understand what you’re talking about, it will be much harder to convince him that he should invest in this software solution. Instead, talk about things like improving safety, reducing downtime, increasing revenue, and decreasing cost.
Those are my top seven tips for asking for an increased budget. What strategies have you found successful in your own experience? We’d love to hear from you!