CIOs Should Learn the Two Metrics That Matter

CIOs need to be prepared to explain how their expensive IT project will improve the numbers every CEO cares most about.

Twenty years ago I was geared up for a meeting with the CEO. I was all ready to tell him how much better the new IT projects were going to be.

When I walked in to meet with him, he looked at me and said, "So, regarding today's discussion, will this sell more stuff--or save me money?"

I wanted to die.

The new IT would be better. It would be faster. Long-term it would be cheaper, but initially it was going to cost a lot of extra money. I felt like it was the right thing to do, but I was not prepared for his simple question. How would what I wanted to do either sell more stuff or save the company money?

A new book, Business Cases that Mean Business, by Jim Maholic, makes much the same point. He lays out in great detail how to create and present a compelling business case for a big IT project. But he says it all starts here: "A business case is about business. Business is about money--making more money than we spend and spending effectively so that we either make more money or spend much less money."

Crisp, Credible Numbers

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