Special Feature
Part of a ZDNet Special Feature: Tech budgets 2017: A CXO's Guide

Video: 3 tips for winning the IT budget wars

An IT budget is about a lot more than just a spreadsheet and a wishlist. It is your best chance to communicate your company's technology strategy and to inspire action and investment.

Watch the video above to learn our best tips for how to win the IT budget wars. Or, you can read the summary below.

1. Know your audience

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Remember that your IT budget is your company's tech strategy put into numbers. If it's just a list of all the things you spend money on, then you're doing it wrong. The IT budget is also a written document, and like any piece of writing one of the key aspects of making sure it communicates its ideas effectively is knowing your audience. In this case, the audience is the company's leaders--and most of them are not usually tech experts--so the document should always be written from the larger perspective of how tech will help the whole company progress.

2. Use the budget to win trust

Putting together a budget that is sober, realistic, and laser-focused on bringing value to the organization will establish the fact that the IT department can be trusted as good stewards of one of the company's biggest pots of gold. Don't make the IT budget a wish list and don't sugarcoat or under-report the challenges. And if you have to make cuts, make clear the impact of those cuts--and what the trade-offs are.

3. Align everything around your top priority

Know what your top priority is, be able to communicate exactly how it will drive the company forward, and organize the IT budget document so that it clearly tells the story of why it makes sense to align everything else around this one thing. In almost all cases it should be something new or an important upgrade, and everything that simply "keeps the lights on" should be respectfully but purposefully relegated to background material.

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